Measuring design

Our new Evaluation and Programme Manager Shalini Subbiah believes in data-driven decision-making to maximise impact.
June 13, 2018

Shalini Subbiah joined the M4ID team this spring as our new Evaluation and Programme Manager. In her role, Shalini supports the monitoring and evaluation of M4ID’s projects and  generates learnings that will strengthen our policy and programming. We had a chat with her to learn more about the importance of monitoring and evaluation activities within the health and development sector.

What is the importance of M&E in our line of work?

Maternal Newborn Child Health programmes and policies are designed to change health outcomes, for example, to increase antenatal care uptake or to reduce sepsis in newborns. Evaluation methodologies help us to determine whether or not these changes are actually achieved, as well as generating hard evidence as to which strategies or products can contribute towards achieving these changes.

Impact can be demonstrated by using experimental and quasi-experimental methodologies to build statistically robust evidence. Equally important is the ability to track indicators and measure whether all the set objectives are being fulfilled. This allows programme managers to track progress, improve processes, and utilise resources more efficiently.  

In the past, the allocation of funds has been far from perfect within the aid community, which is why I think it is crucial to backup decision-making by quantitative data which has been contextualised with qualitative insights. Regarding our line of work, I think the biggest challenge relating to evaluation is the question how to do it in relation to creative processes, which by definition resist standardisation.

What are your expectations in working at M4ID?

I am interested in using data to contribute to the creative problem-solving process and to make programmes at M4ID more effective. In addition, I am hoping to participate in the burgeoning conversation about how to evaluate and optimise human-centred design processes.

As M4ID moves into the implementation space, there is more scope for us to be able to understand how HCD can be used to positively influence health programming in low-resource settings. There is currently limited understanding of the causal mechanisms through which HCD processes influence outcomes. The establishment of these linkages will be crucial to facilitate increased adoption of design principles in global public health programmes.


Shalini Subbiah has accumulated extensive experience in data analysis, quantitative and qualitative research and programme management, focusing primarily on gender issues and maternal and neonatal health. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from India as well as a double Master’s in Economics and Public Policy from the University of Michigan.


Interview by: Petra Sillanpää

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