What made you choose to study for a PhD in Economics at Queen Mary?
I wanted to study a PhD in London, the University and SEF had a good reputation plus my father had studied his MSc in Economics at Queen Mary.
What aspects of your degree did you find most enjoyable?
My scholarship came with a teaching fellowship and I enjoyed teaching international trade and international monetary economics. Teaching these courses made me a better economist.
Can you describe your career path up to date and your current role?
I spent the first 7 years of my career working in Whitehall, mostly at HM Treasury where I worked on the economic framework underpinning the UK's supply-side reform agenda under Chancellor Gordon Brown and ended up having responsibility for the development and execution of the UK’s strategy towards the EU on financial service, financial services trade arrangements under the WTO and strategic dialogues outside the EU. I then spent 14 years working in investment banks, running global teams responsible for assessing the impact of regulatory reforms, advocacy and the Bank’s supervisory interactions with their core regulators. I am now doing a combination of things, including some teaching at Queen Mary, consultancy for the International Monetary Fund and an Advisor to a small Brussels based consultancy firm where I work on topics covering banking, securities and operational resilience.
Can you describe what a typical working day looks like for you?
I usually exercise before 6am and ideally start work before 7am. The last month I have largely been working for clients assessing regulatory changes Central Banks and regulators across Europe have been making as a result of the Coronavirus. Many of the changes are drastic and far-reaching to ensure the financial markets continue to function and banks continue to provide credit to the economy given these challenging times.
How did your time and study at Queen Mary help your career and development?
Studying a PhD helped me develop strong analytical skills which helped with the transition to becoming an Economist in the UK Government. I also learnt the ability to present complex issues simply and clearly which has helped me massively in both my time in Government and also working in investment banking.
Is there any advice you would give to current students or recent graduates considering their career options?
Work on what you are passionate about, enjoy and are interested in, most students have 40 years work ahead of them and you need to enjoy your work. To do well and progress in most jobs, you must develop core competencies covering communications skills, teamwork, organisation skills, ability to prioritise, creativity/innovation, management and leadership, alongside the analytical skills you develop at University, so focus on developing and being able to demonstrate these skills.
What is the most exciting thing about what you do?
I have tremendous variety in my work which I really enjoy plus I continue to learn.
What was so special about your time at Queen Mary? Can you give one or two examples of your most memorable moments?
I really liked how international the student population was. I have fond memories of going on pub crawls in East London with the late Professor Bernard Corry and travelling to Riga in Latvia to teach a course in Financial Intermediation with my PhD supervisor, Alf Vanags who sadly is also not with us.
Do you have a favourite spot on campus? If so, where is it and why?
Anywhere that serves good black coffee and is open early.
Do you have any role models that you look up to, both inside and outside of your field?
Sir Nigel Wicks in terms of integrity, achievements in economic policy, ability to deal with politicians and clarity of thought process on everything. People will not know Sir Nigel, but he achieved many things before retiring 5 years ago. His work on HIPC debt relief 20 years ago was instrumental at reducing the debt overhang on many of the poorest countries in the world and he was very influential in the design of the Maastricht criteria under European Monetary Union. He was also Principal Private Secretary to Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister. All my interactions with him were totally inspirational.