David Silke is Director of Research and Policy at The Housing Agency in Dublin. He is also Chair of SRA Ireland.
How did you come to social research as a career?
As the third son of a farmer, primogeniture was going to deny me that career option. So I read social science at University College, Dublin. At that stage I had social work in mind as a career. But I got more interested in research and policy, an interest confirmed by taking a Masters in Social Policy at LSE.
What was your first professional job?
This was in the Analytical Services Division at what was then the Department of Social Security in London, working chiefly on disability welfare issues. It was a good training in research commissioning and management, and experience of the policy impact of social research. After three years I returned to Dublin (and marriage) and freelanced for some years. Then took a job with the Irish Combat Poverty Agency, and later with the National Economic and Social Forum (an in-house think tank in the Prime Minister’s department) and then the Centre for Housing Research that merged into The Housing Agency where I now work.
What do you enjoy most in your work?
I take great pleasure and pride in bringing a project to completion. I think that this satisfaction relates to my need to be under pressure to work well.
A favourite quote?
Knowledge is power – Francis Bacon.
What would you advise a social researcher at the start of their career?
To get as diverse experience as possible – researching different topics, using the full range of methods, experiencing the roles of designing, conducting, managing and communicating research. That way you’ll find your strengths and have more opportunities to advance your career.
Interview by William Solesbury