All The Ways Into Behavioral Science (And No, You Don’t Need a PhD) | Merle Van Den Akker
The world of applied behavioral science has never been better. So how do you get your foot in the door to have a career in the field? You may be surprised to learn that it doesn’t have to involve getting a PhD. Merle van den Akker discusses her career journey from academia into the corporate world, and what we can learn from it.
Merle van den Akker grew up in the Netherlands and studied in the UK before moving to Australia to start her current job at the Commonwealth Bank. Though she got a lot out of her PhD studies, she realized the academic system was not a good long-term fit for her. While in her PhD, Merle started the blog “Money on the Mind” which has allowed her the opportunity to interview nearly 200 leaders in the field of behavioral science and finance.
Having seen the world of behavioral science through the academic lens and now through the corporate lens, Kurt and Tim chat with Merle about how important a PhD is in the field (hint, it’s not!) But Merle gives her advice for all rising behavioral scientists and the many ways to incorporate behavioral insights into all fields of work. For those with behavioral science skills and knowledge, application can be used across many functional areas of an organization from marketing to HR to product development.
We also delve into Merle’s current work in finance. Financial solutions have a reputation of not being very human-centric and are difficult for people to navigate. Applying behavioral science and human-centered design can help transform these systems from within and take account of the cultural factors that influence our finances.
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(3:49) Welcome and speed round questions.
(5:06) Do you need a PhD to work in Behavioral Science?
(9:10) The real reason Merle pursued a PhD.
(16:07) The taboo around talking about money.
(19:24) Always leave your credit card at home.
(24:13) The journey from academia into industry work.
(28:26) Advice for people who are in PhD programs.
(31:41) Money on the Mind.
(40:54) What music does Merle listen to?
(45:17) Grooving Session with Kurt and Tim on applied behavioral science.
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