My HEHTA Journey

We're proud to have a dynamic team of people from diverse backgrounds. Click on the names below to find out how some of us ended up being part of the HEHTA family!

You can also watch our team video team video to meet more members of our team, including our Director and Deputy Director.

Interested in joining us? Visit Jobs at HEHTA.

 

Robert Heggie - Research Associate

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Research Associate Robert Heggie shares his experience of life at HEHTA.

How did you end up working at HEHTA? 

I was only vaguely aware of health economics and HTA. I had certainly never considered a career in this area. However, the job I was in previously wasn’t particularly challenging (I won’t give names...) and to be honest, after about six months I felt I had learned all that I could learn there. I was looking for something new and saw a job advert for HEHTA, so I figured “yeah, why not?”. Given the more scientific nature of the work, compared with my more economics/policy background, I didn’t expect I’d have much chance of getting the job.  

What has been your biggest success so far and what has been your biggest challenge? 

Well, getting the job was a big success! Since then, I feel I’ve learned a lot, both in terms of lots of new methodological/analytic skills, but also soft skills like how to collaborate with colleagues from a range of backgrounds and how to present my work. There were lots of little successes along the way – conference presentations, publications – that I am proud of, but I guess getting promoted in 2020 (of all years!) was my main success. This was really a culmination of all those little successes. 

My biggest challenge has probably been understanding how I work most effectively – when to knuckle down and when to take a step back. Also, how best to work with others who don’t necessarily work and think the same way I do. This can be a challenge particularly when timelines are tight for a project and deadlines are looming. Communication and honesty are key here, which is no great revelation, but sometimes you just need to do things wrong first to learn how to do them right.  

What is one of the best things about being part of HEHTA? 

I love to learn new things and I am convinced that even after a full career working at HEHTA there’ll still be plenty of things left to learn. I also enjoy the collaborative nature we have – I always feel able to knock on someone’s door and have a chat about work, or anything else really, over a cup of tea.  

What advice would you give to people who want to get into this field? 

I probably can’t give any great advice, since I still don’t really know how I got into it. Just go for it. Don’t be put off by the steep learning curve. There is a lot to learn, but there’s plenty of time to do it, and you don’t need to know everything at once. The skills you’ll acquire will open lots of doors to you, so you really can’t lose.  

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

Director of HEHTA, of course! Although maybe we’ll have to give that 11 or 12 years! Nah, who knows!? I think I’d like to be a professor one day. But honestly, I don’t like to make concrete plans about the future. You never know where you’ll end up. I just like to give myself as many good options as possible and then take things as they come. It was pure chance that I ended up at HEHTA. So, who know what the future holds? I am sure whatever it is though, it will involve working in this field (sunk costs and all that!). 

 


Dikshyanta Rana - Research Assistant

Portrait of Dikshyanta Rana

Research Assistant Dikshyanta Rana shares her experience of life at HEHTA.

How did you end up working at HEHTA? 

The months preceding my job offer from HEHTA was a stressful time – I was about to graduate with an MSc in Health Economics, and I had few months to find a perfect job before my student visa expired. I knew I was interested in academia and it was extremely fortunate for me that HEHTA was advertising the role of a Trainee Health Economist. My initial reaction was ‘this cannot be true!’. It was exactly what I was looking for - the role offered me space to train with some of the best people in the field as well as build an independent career. Being in York, I was also familiar with its connection to HEHTA and the latter’s contribution to the discipline. So, it was a no-brainer for me. I still think it was the best decision I have ever made. 

What has been your biggest success so far and what has been your biggest challenge? 

My first, first-author paper is about to be published soon with a commentary from an expert! So, it definitely counts as my biggest success so far. The paper is an economic evaluation of the FEMME Trial, which was coincidentally the first project I was assigned as a trainee in HEHTA. The paper serves as a timeline for my personal and professional development. Looking back, I was daunted by the prospect of statistical coding and overwhelmed about applying what I had learnt in university classes to real life. First job jitters! Though the project was a big learning curve, it has shaped me as a researcher. I have learnt to trust myself and not back down from a challenge. 

This brings me to my biggest challenge so far - Covid-19! I was away on a holiday before the UK lockdown started. So, I had to not only adjust to work-from-home mode immediately but also conduct the final analysis of the FEMME trial from home. It took some time to acclimatise but I am grateful for the support I was provided by HEHTA 

What is one of the best things about being part of HEHTA? 

There are so many things I love about HEHTA. The best thing about being a part of HEHTA is the people. I think the slogan ‘People Make Glasgow’ is apt here. From day one, I have been surrounded by strong role models. I admit I was a bit nervous to be amidst more experienced researchers in the beginning and worried about making friends as well. Now, I have colleagues who turned into close friends and mentors who guide me indefinitely. It is such a positive environment. I have so many fun memories. It also does not hurt that you’re allowed to bring pets! 

Another great thing I should commend HEHTA on is the autonomy that is provided to early career researchers like me. I am always encouraged, trusted and supported to lead my projects and pursue training for career development. I value this responsibility as it makes me a better researcher. 

What advice would you give to people who want to get into this field? 

My first and foremost advice would be to be passionate about being a health economist. One thing that has helped me the most is the fact that I enjoy my work. There are so many opportunities in this field, and you can truly carve out your niche aligned to your interests. Of course, there are days when everything feels like it’s going backwards and over my head. I think I should also mention that imposter syndrome is so commonplace in academia, yet not talked about openly. I think you can overcome any difficulties by maintaining a positive attitude and continuing to persevere. True learning happens when you push yourself out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Lastly, I advise treating everyone with compassion and respect. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

Ultimately, I see myself with a PhD and in a senior academic position. I am still trying to figure out what I truly want. Nevertheless, I want to be happy, contented and contributing positively to the world. I am sure future ‘Dikshyanta’ will be the best version of herself. 


Ping Hsuan Hsieh - PhD Student

Portrait of Ping Hsuan Hsieh

PhD student Ping Hsuan Hsieh shares his experience of life at HEHTA.

How did you end up studying at HEHTA? 

I think doing my PhD at HEHTA has been a wonderful journey. Before I started my PhD, I worked as a pharmacist at a medical centre in Taiwan. Many years ago, I attended a workshop organised by the HTA agency in Taiwan and was so impressed by their invited speakers from the UK - one of them was my current supervisor, Olivia. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to come to HEHTA as a visiting researcher for six months and really enjoyed my time in Glasgow. The team kindly provided excellent teaching materials, I had regular meetings with my supervisor and was always given helpful feedback - and everyone was so friendly!

When I finished my visit and returned to Taiwan, I luckily got another scholarship from my hospital to do a PhD. At that moment, HEHTA came into my mind as the first choice - that’s why I am here! 

What has been your biggest success so far and what has been your biggest challenge? 

Before I started my PhD, I had been doing clinical and administrative work in the hospital for many years, so I didn’t have much experience related to academics. Since starting my PhD at HEHTA, my supervisors have always encouraged me and helped me to submit my work to international academic conferences. So far, I think the biggest success might be that I had my first article published in a high impact factor journal in 2020. On reflection, I think my progress since the beginning of my PhD is also incredibly valuable. On the other hand, the biggest challenge also comes from its process, including academic writing as a second language and critical thinking. 

What is one of the best things about being part of HEHTA? 

I think my favourite thing is the friendly and supportive people and environment in HEHTA. Our office is in a three-floor house, always making me feel like I'm working as part of a big family. Even though we have been working from home remotely for more than a year due to the pandemic, our team are still very dedicated to organising various virtual events to engage us together, which I do really appreciate. 

What advice would you give to people who want to get into this field? 

I was trained as a pharmacist and worked in the hospital for a long time. I think I am still relatively new to health economics, and the major difference between my previous job and what I am doing now is that I view things from a broader perspective. For example, my study is focused on cost-of-illness from a societal perspective, so I consider indirect costs, productivity loss and how to measure and value unpaid work etc. These are not commonly seen in my previous training. So, I would suggest people who have similar backgrounds could do some research on these issues if they want to get into this field. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

Because my PhD is funded by the teaching hospital in Taiwan, I will have to work for them for most of the next 10 years at least. When I go back to Taiwan, I guess I will work as a researcher, and have some teaching responsibility at the affiliated medical college. I am very happy that I can continue my academic career and believe what I have learned at HEHTA, including being a researcher and supervising students, will be extremely helpful to me.