What is your position today, and what are you working on?
I am currently a Professor of Industrial Organisation at the University of Barcelona (UB). My PhD in Economics duties involve teaching activities, as part of the PhD contract signed with UB.
My PhD in Economics research is focused on development economics, industrial organisation and regulation. My first paper, which is in draft version, consists of a natural field experiment in Ecuador, in which I estimate a causal effect between pesticides and newborns’ birth weights. For this, the GIS software has been very useful, and so far results are going as expected. The TSE Master in Public Policy and Development programme gave me the most complete tools to think objectively on identification strategies, self-selection problems, and many other obstacles one can face while doing econometrics. At the University of Barcelona, these skills were improved thanks to my advisor, J. Calzada. Despite the several challenges this paper initially faced, we managed to get important results with policy implications. My ongoing work now involves a model on industrial organisation and development economics.
What was your path from your Master’s graduation to this current post, and what are the key elements that helped you make your choice?
Doing the M2 PPD reinforced my vision to become a Development Economist, and this Master’s programme allowed me to discover the main problems that still need solving and how to do it. In the last term of my Master’s, I was looking for universities whose research areas include development economics. The options were too few, and the PhD posts were highly competitive. Eventually, I got to contact the University of Barcelona, through a forwarded email from a close friend. The application process ended with a successful PhD acceptance with contract.
I would highlight three elements as very crucial for making the correct choice. First, talk and listen to your professors. A short talk with them can represent a life decision for you, and they can give you advice. Second, talk to your colleagues: they usually help with ideas and, as in my case, they can show you options you had not thought of before. Third, stick to your research (or professional) ideals. If you pursue what you truly want, anywhere can be a perfect place to enhance your career.
According to your professional experience, what are the most useful skills you obtained during your degree?
From an academia point of view, the skill I have exploited the most so far is social interaction. Doing research involves 80% of self-training and your potential advisor’s guidance. The remaining 20% consists of crucial interaction with your PhD colleagues, who have more experience and/or ideas, and you can get huge help from them as well.
From a professional point of view, after working three years in Deloitte & Touche Ecuador, I might say that being objective is the main issue. You must present high quality results (and analysis) in the shortest time possible. Identify your priorities: all clients matter, but you should keep a balance among your duties to succeed. And again, social interaction with the senior, the manager, and even the partner is important. The minimum opportunity to exchange qualified opinions can result in good considerations and promotion.
What advice would you like to give to the TSE students, or to the school?
“Don’t worry, be happy”, as Professor J.P. Azam told me once. “Try to look for an active advisor for your PhD career”, as Professor E. Auriol suggested to me. And “be curious, open your mind into different fields and try to set your goals to a potential contribution”, as Professor S. Straub advised me.
My own advice: do not limit yourself to your strengths or weaknesses in Economics, find what you would like to do for society and/or for your own life, and choose your sacrifices today wisely to enjoy the results tomorrow!