UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Meet the future of public value: Spotlight on MPA student…Cate McLaurin

28 January 2021

Introducing Cate McLaurin, 2020-21 Master of Public Administration (MPA) student at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP). We get to know more about her, while discussing public value and why she chose IIPP and our MPA.

Introducing Cate McLaurin

What were you doing before you joined the IIPP MPA?
I’m still doing it! I’m in my second year of the MPA studying part time whilst working full time at the London Borough of Hackney, where I’m the Head of Delivery in Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

Why did you choose to apply to the IIPP MPA?
I was looking for a course that would enable me to bring my work experiences into a wider context and allow me to think across different approaches to change.

What challenges or topics around innovation, public policy and public value concern/interest you the most?
Being able to challenge the prevailing ideas in the UK public sector about the role of the public sector, and the need for investment in the skills and capacity at both central and local levels. I’m curious as to how we’ve got to where we got to, and the course is enabling me to understand the ideas and theories behind what I’ve experienced in my career.

What do you hope to get out of the IIPP MPA?
A better understanding so that I’ve got a stronger set of capabilities and networks for transformative social change. This is my second year and the benefit of studying part time is that I’m already applying what I’m learning every day. This year I’m really enjoying thinking about how well-designed public policy innovation can be delivered.

Why do you believe it is important that we change how public value is imagined, practised and evaluated?
Because we need a new way to imagine how we’ll tackle wicked problems and Grand Challenges, particularly climate change but also inequality and poverty. 

What is your favourite album, film or novel?

Title page of a 1907 edition of Pride and Prejudice illustrated by C. E. Brock

Pride and Prejudice. For those who haven’t read it (and I can’t imagine why not), it is arch, funny and subtly unpicks societal ‘rules’. Also I like a feisty heroine who learns from her mistakes.

If you had to remove one social media app from your phone, which would one would it be and why? 
I’ve already removed Facebook as it is too much of a time sink for me. I’m already a bit addicted to Twitter.

Who would be your top three dream dinner guests (dead or alive)?

Rebecca Solnit New York Times
Rebecca Solnit
Caitlin Moran Wikipedia
Caitlin Moran
Mariana Mazzucato
Mariana Mazzucato

If your fellow MPA students were to visit you in your city, where would you take them and what is a local dish they would have to try?
I live in London so I’d say make sure you visit Drummond Street for amazing South Indian food.

What is your life motto?
Be generous.