Jake Nelson

Jake Nelson

Murdoch University
Research & Data Officer
Jake studied Bachelor of Science at Murdoch University

What's your job about?

I work at the Western Australian Mental Health Commission within the Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate. The Commission is responsible for the planning and purchasing of mental health, alcohol and other drug services for the public of Western Australia. My particular work area within the Commission focuses on system performance reporting, monitoring program outcomes and undertaking various research and evaluation projects. In my current role I undertake regular reporting activities and plan, manage and report on a range of statistical research projects. Currently I am assisting in developing State-wide service demand forecasting models for the allocation of funding to mental health and alcohol and other drug treatment providers in the new financial year.

What's your background?

I was originally born and spent some years in the fairly remote Pilbara region of Western Australia. I have since been living in Mandurah, which is a major city just south of Perth. An important stage in my life was attaining my Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) and achieving a highly competitive Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER) in year 12 which allowed me to smoothly transition into further study. While I was deciding on what I wanted to study at university, I went on to complete multiple information technology related certifications at TAFE. After which I enrolled in a Bachelor of Science where I undertook studies in chemistry, applied statistics and environmental science – achieving high distinction and distinction grades.

Nearing the conclusion of my studies I managed to secure a Vacation Student Program at the local Alcoa Alumina Refinery in Pinjarra. During the Vacation Student Program I was responsible for the planning, management and reporting of an industrial research project focusing on process improvement. It was my high grades and professional experience that allowed me to secure a place in Western Australian Health’s highly competitive corporate Graduate Development Program. The Graduate Development Program supported me in the transition from student to professional and allowed me to further develop my analytical, policy and project management skills. I have since held various challenging and interesting positions across the Western Australian health system.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Definitely yes. To do my role you need strong analytical research abilities with a focus on collecting, analysing and reporting data. In addition you need strong soft skills including effective written and verbal communication abilities. Having experience in planning, managing and reporting on various research projects is also a bonus. People working with health, alcohol and other drug data come from a vast array of backgrounds including information technology, psychology, environmental science, mathematics and statistics.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

What I enjoy about my work is producing valuable intelligence through effective data analysis and modelling that is used by various stakeholders across the health system to undertake improvement projects, implement strategic policy and make better informed decisions. I always feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that my research and analysis is being utilised to support and improve upon the crucial services delivered to the public of Western Australia.

What are the limitations of your job?

Working in the public sector means that changes in political priorities and leadership can result in changes in the tasks and focus of your organisation or work area. So having the ability to adapt and confidently confront new challenges is crucial.

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

Looking back I would have definitely focused on enjoying the journey a lot more rather than worrying about the destination. I would have also spent more time thinking critically about the key priorities (“the why”) that are important to me and used that as a means to continually shape and manage my life. Finally I would have reminded myself to think outside the square when it comes to career or major life decisions and not just follow what everyone else is doing.