Rhonda Evans (1991)

Managing Director for Research and Development, NcHenry Group, San Francisco

I'm the Managing Director of Research and Development for The McHenry Group, a financial consultancy that specializes in risk management and business development support for the investment-based benefits market . At McHenry, I am responsible for conducting financial analyses, industry assessments, and research on the latest pension and retirement trends. In addition, I manage research and design for financial reporting and analytical tools, which involves improving statistical measures, data calculation and testing, and product design.

In my spare time, I'm also the Managing Director for ELM Research & Strategy, which I co-founded with Berkeley Sociology alumnus Jason McNichol. ELM provides integrated research, development, and incubation services for new ventures in the non-profit, public, and private sectors. My work at the company has focused on employment and work processes research.

For ELM, I've conducted research on taxi driver health care for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, done a series of studies on sexual minorities in militaries around the globe, analyzed commodity chains and global corporate organizations in the maritime transport industry for the ILWU, and continue to work on an innovative city-union organizational change partnership in San Francisco.

While there certainly were faster ways of getting here, I've never regretted getting my Ph.D. or pursuing a career path outside of academia. A Ph.D. from Berkeley provides instant legitimacy within my industry. The training in Economic Sociology, Organizational Sociology, Political Sociology and Quantitative Methods has been tremendously helpful in my work, providing methodological and analytical tools for understanding the quantitative financial issues and the organizational and institutional elements of the industry. And while my work is less in-depth than academic research, its breadth and pace make my present career dynamic, challenging and engaging. I work with a group of good people who care about the lack of pension security in the U.S. and who, in their own small way, are working to improve accountability and transparency in the industry.

One final note: I was consistently surprised by the number of graduate students who expressed their own doubts about an academic career path when I told them my plans. It is one option among many, and I'm glad to report that there are many satisfying alternatives for those who question the academic route. Other social science disciplines, such as Economics, Psychology and Political Science, have more established and institutionalized career paths in the private, public and non-profit sectors. I believe it would be beneficial if our discipline worked to facilitate opportunities outside of academia for its Ph.D.s.

Therefore, I'm more than happy to talk with people who are thinking about careers outside of academia, or more specifically about the private sector or the financial services industry. I can be reached at rhonda.l.evans@gmail.com.

Dissertation Title: 
The Rise of Ethical Trade Advocacy: NAFTA and the New Politics of Trade