Founded the Effective Altruism Consulting Network (EACN) and cFactual. Board member of EA GER.
Worked previously at various consulting firms (incl. 3 years at BCG) and as a research assistant. Find here more information about my experience and consulting projects I did within the EA space.
In my free time, I like to get nerdy about improving personal and organizational decision making among other things
Let me know, if you need project support
Provide smart, EA-aligned people on short-notice
Thanks for clarifying! I think Training for Good looked into "scalable management trainings", but had a hard time identifying a common theme, which they could work on (This is my understanding based on a few informal chats. This might be outdated and I am sure they have a more nuanced take). Based on my experience, different managers seem to have quite different struggles which change over time and good coaching and peer support seemed to be the most time-effective interventions for the managers (This is based on me chatting occasionally to people and not based on proper research or deep thinking about the topic)
What do you specifically mean by "maturing in management, generally"? I noticed that people tend to have very different things in mind when they are talking about "Improving management in EA" so could be worth clarifying
Some shameless self-promotion as this might be relevant to some readers: I work at cFactual, a new EA strategy consultancy, where one of our three initial services is to optimize ToC's and KPI's together with organizations. Illustrative project experience includes the evaluation of the ToC and design of a KPI for GovAI’s fellowship program, building a quantitative impact and cost-effectiveness model for a global health NGO, internally benchmarking the impact potential of two competing programs of an EA meta organization with each other, doing coaching with a co-founder of a successful longtermist org around Fermi-estimates and prioritization of activities as well as redteaming the impact evaluation of a program of a large EA organization.
Thanks for highlighting this offer again and sharing your feelings, Catherine!
I like how you highlight that the forum is just one element of EA. Personally, I also distinguish quite strongly between EA as a question and set of evolving ideas and the EA community (which is obviously a part of EA).
Historically, I found it super valuable to talk with you through various sensitive community-building considerations and benefited a lot from your experience managing countless tricky situations I wasn't even aware of. Thanks for doing that important and hard behind-the-scenes work!
Thanks for sharing, Catherine! I apply many of your tips and agree that they are super useful. Additional questions I ask myself quite often:
Some tools for group decision-making we use:
If there are larger decisions I want to think through more rigorously, I quite often use this mental structure as a starting point (and then adapt it): Recommendation/conclusion incl. my certainty in the conclusion, alternative options, my arguments for the recommendation, my arguments against, key uncertainties, key assumptions, downside risks and predictions
Probably stating the obvious for many here: I think the CFAR handbook also has great prompts for people who are interested in the topic
Quick update: we launched an EA-aligned strategy consultancy, partly motivated by this post and the feedback we received from our pilot projects: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/a65aZvDAcPTkkjWHT/introducing-cfactual-a-new-ea-aligned-consultancy-1
Thanks for the question, Merlin. Please note that we have a small sample size and are still refining our models of what skillsets are most relevant for more EA-aligned consulting.
Three things that have been useful: 1) Structuring problems, projects and meetings well, 2) Being able to switch quickly between different levels of abstraction quickly and constantly: Thinking carefully about a key assumption in an excel model in one moment and thinking about how the results change the big picture for a CEO in the next moment 3) More vaguely: Just having seen and worked with a lot of organization, projects and leaders, probably shaped our intuitions
Three things that were less useful than I thought: 1) Executional speed - On the margin, we care much more about what we work on and getting it right compared to getting things done; 2) Qualitative data selection e.g., interviewing - during the pilot project we did a lot more independent thinking and then specific testing of key uncertainties with key stakeholders. In traditional consulting, we would have conducted interviews earlier to develop our hypotheses (which has the cost of becoming potentially an echo chamber); 3) Project planning - during all pilot projects we adapted our activities quite a lot based on our updated models, what would be most impactful
Thanks for sharing and your great work during the last year. Having talked to you several times, I was and am impressed with your systematic approach to finding product-market fit/high expected impact opportunities, your ability to build MVPs to test ideas quickly, and your courage to discontinue programs that do not meet your bar.
I think the latter is hard especially after investing weeks of work into programs and it is easy to trick oneself into motivated reasoning, about why it might be worth continuing the program. I admire you for having the courage to make tough judgment calls. Probably most of us should stop mediocre activities (earlier)
Hmm. Obviously, career advice depends a lot on the individual and the specific context, all things equal, I tentatively agree that there is some value in having seen a large "functioning" org. I think many of these orgs have also dysfunctional aspects (e.g., I think most orgs are struggling with sexual harassment and concentration of formal and informal power) and that working at normal orgs has quite high opportunity costs. I also think that many of my former employers were net negative for some silly which I think are highly relevant, e.g., high-quality decision making