Updating Results

Australian Bureau Of Statistics (ABS)

  • #4 in Government & public services
  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Hamish Morton

It’s been an invaluable experience to delve into the production side of the information that drives key decisions in our country and to receive positive feedback from stakeholders regarding the high quality of our work.

What's your job about?

The ABS is Australia’s national statistical agency and official source of independent and reliable statistics; in my role I work as an analyst compiling statistics, building models, analysing data and writing articles to tell the Australian story through numbers.

Specifically, I work on compiling the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and measuring inflationary pressures faced by Australian households (the change in prices paid by Australian metropolitan households over a period of time for a fixed “basket” of goods and services). My bread and butter work involves drawing on multiple data sources ranging from manually collected prices to web scraped data and even supermarket scanner data to calculate price movements. I then interrogate the data, draw out key stories and present my findings in meetings with my team, before it is published and used by policy makers such as the RBA, Treasury and businesses across the country.

I have also worked on completing interesting projects such as creating models using specific components of the CPI to find unique insights and I was part of the team that re-weighted the index in 2020. Due to the innovative approach taken in this work, it has been referenced and used as an example by other statistical agencies internationally which is something to be proud of!

What's your background?

I grew up on the Gold Coast but don’t really fit the stereotype; I love the beach but can’t surf, prefer AFL over rugby league and prefer Canberra’s cool winters to Queensland’s humidity. I followed the fairly traditional route of going straight from high school into university. I enrolled in a bachelors’ degree and discovered a passion for economics and surprisingly Italian language so I then swapped to a double degree and added on a diploma for good measure.

Throughout my studies I was fortunate to have the support networks around me that enabled me to extensively volunteer in leadership programs, student societies and programs that helped support international students when first coming to Australia. I also interned at Trade and Investment Queensland, took part in finance competitions, worked as a research assistant, volunteered in India and Nepal and taught English for three months in a high school in Italy.

These experiences and the skills I gained from them left me well placed to be a competitive candidate for the 2020 ABS Graduate Development Program and aided me in developing an agile and adaptive approach to my work. This has served me well throughout the rapidly changing environment in 2020 and has helped me to produce high quality work for my team in a timely manner resulting in a promotion enabling me to take on higher duties.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, absolutely! Even though I work in macroeconomic statistics it’s not necessary to have done an economics degree or to be a maths whiz to do my job (I don’t even particularly like maths myself). I would say the most important characteristics a person should have for this job are: an analytical mind, the ability to critically think and come up with independent thoughts and opinions, the ability to work well in teams, a certain degree of comfort with uncertainty and it also wouldn’t hurt if you were comfortable with public speaking.    

What's the coolest thing about your job?

One of the things I love most about my job is the amount of high quality and timely data that I get to play with on a daily basis. It’s been an invaluable experience to delve into the production side of the information that drives key decisions in our country and to receive positive feedback from stakeholders regarding the high quality of our work.

What are the limitations of your job?

Working in a team that releases information on a quarterly basis means that our workload has significant peaks and troughs. Our team receives a lot of data towards the end of the quarter and with strict deadlines in place to publish our work we are often extremely busy in the lead up to our release.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Grades are important, but being a well-rounded applicant with life experience is what makes you stand out. But whatever you do, DON’T forget about your work-life balance!
  • It’s nerve-racking for many people but if you can get comfortable with public speaking and/or speaking to strangers this will help you immensely in whatever field you choose. You will likely have to present your work to management and people you’re unfamiliar with in whatever field you choose.
  • You’re a human, make mistakes, it’s how you learn and improve yourself.