Alumnus Anna Dixon was recently appointed as Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better. She graduated from the School in 1998 with an MSc in Health Policy, Planning & Financing.
Tell us about the new role. As the Chief Executive of a new organisation – the Centre for Ageing Better – I will be bringing my experience of promoting evidence based change to the issue of ageing, one of the biggest issues facing society. I am excited to lead an organisation that can bring fresh thinking to the challenges and opportunities we face as we all live longer. In all my jobs since graduating, I have sought to use research and evidence to improve the delivery of health care and the outcomes for the population. I have done so from within academia at the London School of Economics and Political Science, from within government at the Department of Health in England, and in an independent charitable foundation, The King’s Fund.
At the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the commitment I saw among academic staff and fellow students to have a positive impact on global health continues to inspire me. I hope the work of Ageing Better will ensure more people in England enjoy a good later life. Perhaps in future we can inspire others globally so more people around the world can live out their later lives in good health.
What made you decide to study at the School? When I applied I wanted to work in developing countries, having spent a year working with VSO in the UK in their campaigns team. Rather than development studies, I decided to study something applied. I come from a family of doctors and had done my undergraduate dissertation on attitudes to HIV/AIDS so health policy seemed the obvious choice. I was attracted by the diversity of students and teachers at the School and the range of course options available.
The best part about being a student at the School? The biggest impact the School had on me was that I met my husband there. He led a tour of the library during my first week and is now the Head of the Library & Archives Service!
I met so many amazing people from all over the world, many of whom I still keep in touch with.
I learnt so much from them. It was clear that their experience and knowledge was going to be much more useful to their home countries than anything I could offer working overseas.
How did your time at the School impact on your career? Through my tutor, I was offered a job with the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies which was being set up when I graduated. This enabled me to be based in London and work with policymakers and academics across the WHO European Region. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about how international health care systems are organised and to undertake comparative research.
Any advice for future students? Spend time in the library – it’s a lovely space and great resource – and spend time with your fellow students: you will learn as much from them as your teachers.
Read a recent interview with Anna in The Guardian.