Jo Smith

Principal Consultant
Wellington Office

A specialist in economic research, policy, and evaluation, Jo provides decision-makers with high-quality, evidence-based analysis and advice

Jo is an applied economist with more than 20 years’ experience in the public and private sectors. She uses mixed-methods research to learn how policies are working on the ground, and advise on practical ways of improving them.

Jo combines a driven, roll-up-your-sleeves approach with sharp analytical skills. Using economic frameworks, she quickly analyses policy issues and gets to the nub of problems. She works flexibly with her clients to deliver tailored, pragmatic advice. She has particular expertise in qualitative interviewing, stakeholder engagement, developing measurement frameworks, and combining multiple data sources.  

Before she joined MartinJenkins in 2022, Jo was an Inquiry Director with the Productivity Commission. Earlier she spent many years as a consulting economist, and held senior adviser roles at the Treasury and New Zealand Police. She has a thorough understanding of government processes, including regulatory impact assessments.

Jo’s experience spans a wide range of sectors and industries, including health, social services, the environment, and international development. She has extensive experience in designing and evaluating programmes and services across not just government but also the business and community sectors. This has included field work in a range of Pacific Island countries.

Outside of work, Jo maintains her passion for health and fitness, including weight-training and trail walks.

Examples of Jo’s work

  • "A Fair Chance for All” Inquiry at the Productivity Commission – Jo established this inquiry, which is aimed at reducing persistent disadvantage in Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Study of New Zealand boards and frontier firms – She interviewed leading company directors as part of exploring the role of boards in companies’ performance.

  • Evaluation of the Cancer Psychological and Social Support Initiative – She carried out a multi-year evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of support for adult cancer patients.

  • Cook Islands Public Expenditure Review 2018 – She reviewed the Cook Islands government’s expenditure in the economic, social, and environmental sectors.

Jo’s qualifications

Jo has an MA (Hons) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Economics (with Distinction), both from the University of Waikato.