Interview Marly Tatiana Celis Galvez

Profielfoto Marly Tatiana Celis Galvez

In the section "Eigenwijze denkers" researchers from Utrecht University Centre for Public Procurement (UUcePP) are interviewed by Elisabetta Manunza and Fredo Schotanus, this time: Marly Tatiana Celis Galvez. Marly Tatiana Galvez is a phd candidate at UUcePP since August 2021 and with establishing her PhD project on Effective Public Procurement.

Who is Marly Tatiana Celis Galvez?

I am Marly Tatiana Celis, originally from Manizales, Colombia, a small city in the coffee region mountains. I studied economics in my hometown and worked in Bogotá (Colombia’s capital) as a policy advisor for the public sector. I see myself as a curious and creative person. This trait of mine has given me an intrinsic motivation to learn and push the boundaries of my knowledge. As a result, two years ago, I came to The Netherlands to challenge myself by doing the research master in Multidisciplinary Economics at Utrecht University. It was a very enriching experience and set the stage for a new phase in my life, as I am now eagerly embracing one of the greatest challenges of my life so far: a PhD at the school of economics of Utrecht University. I am glad to be part of the research community at Utrecht University Centre for Public Procurement.

I also stand up for challenges in my personal life. I like sports, football and running. In Colombia, I ran my first one and a half marathon. In The Netherlands, I had the chance to run the Utrecht Singelloop-2019. The next big challenge will be to run a marathon.

I aim to contribute to the debate about how public procurement boosts jobs and innovation, promotes a more transparent and less corrupt public sector, and guarantees an economy that is resource-efficient, sustainable and socially inclusive.

What are you working on, and why?

Currently, I just started working and setting up my PhD project on Effective Public Procurement; I find it intriguing how dynamic the public procurement market is. According to the European Commission, improving public procurement can yield significant savings: “even a 1% efficiency gain could save €20 billion per year.” This insight motivates my research. What do we know about the efficiency of different procurement decisions or different policies affecting public procurement? In my research, I will focus on the effect of public procurement decisions and procedures on realizing policy objectives such as transparency, innovation, competition, as well as bid quality and quantity.

Thanks to my experience in the public sector and my training as an economist, I understand how important it is to assess decisions with the help of two key elements: (i) a solid conceptual-theoretical framework and (ii) robust quantitative techniques.

With this topic, I am diving into stimulating work: (i) exploring in-depth data on tenders and other procurement sources, (ii) gaining profound knowledge about different procurement procedures and techniques (e.g. transparent documents, scoring methods, participation of non-domestic suppliers), and (iii) depicting methods to assess the effectiveness of the procurement decisions.

The ultimate goal of my PhD research is to provide valuable and practical insights into effective public procurement mechanisms. From an academic perspective, I aim to contribute to the debate about how public procurement boosts jobs and innovation, promotes a more transparent and less corrupt public sector, and guarantees an economy that is resource-efficient, sustainable and socially inclusive.

What do you get out of bed for every morning? And is that different because of the COVID-19 crisis?

I am a person of habits. I wake up early in the morning, after a good night sleep and prepare coffee (first thing in the morning). In that sense, for me getting out of bed every morning is a unique opportunity to move forward and get things done. For me, every day has a purpose because it is an opportunity to learn, share, ask, undertake new projects or complete a task. In that sense, I try to put my own grain of sand to society when I help, share, contribute with smaller or bigger tasks.

In corona times, I found more free time and feel captive by a sense of freedom (not having to commute every day imposed a different mindset in my life). Nevertheless, the Covid-crisis has had a positive effect on my daily habits. Overall, I still have the drive to wake up every day and take another step forward.

Is there anything you appreciate in these changing circumstances?

From my perspective, society has become more mindful about living and sharing with family, friends, and colleagues in a safe and healthy environment. These new circumstances have made me appreciate the importance of taking care of my physical and mental health while fostering relationships with others as well. From the mental health perspective, I have become aware of the threats of isolation from social distancing and the anxiety stemming from the uncertainty about public health regulations.

After the crisis, do we have to go back to our old life or not?

I don’t think we should go back to our old lifestyle. In contrast, I believe a hybrid between online and in-person work-life will emerge. While in-person lectures, meetings, conferences, etc., will come back to our daily lives, virtuality will become a latent and feasible alternative for those activities. The upcoming hybrid in-person-online lifestyle may have consequences in the practicalities of the economy, the management practices, and the procurement processes. For instance, perhaps an online environment for transactions could lead towards more transparent negotiations.

Who or what inspires you?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. For me, the writer himself is a source of inspiration. I would like to highlight how Holmes walks us through the evidence and Watson records so vividly every single detail. In his stories, Doyle captures our sense of "reasoning backwards, or analytically". I relate that point of view with research in economics: as Holmes and Watson, we analogously walk through data, descriptive statistics, and stylized facts in order to study hypotheses and carefully log our thoughts and findings. That is why I wanted to mention this writer.

Which teacher did you not forget during your entire study curriculum and why?

I have had a lot of inspiring teachers and professors. I remember with high esteem my social sciences (geography and history) high school teacher as she taught me to see beyond the facts. As a teenager, learning about remarkable events in our history was not the most exciting activity and neither was remembering country names and their location on the map. But my teacher taught us that the way we see our world is shaped by politics, institutions, and behaviour as a society. It was the first time that I was intrigued by understanding the behaviour behind people and governments economic decisions. It became the biggest motivation in my educational and work projects. I can say that because of her inspiring way of thinking, I decided to study economics.