What is your best memory of your time as an ECON UZH student?
Two years into my undergraduate studies, I started to work part-time at the Department of Economics as a research and teaching assistant. I designed and delivered weekly seminars in introductory macroeconomics for first year students, which was both fun and instructive. Moreover, I was able to participate in the weekly seminars of the ECON department, where researchers from around the world presented their current cutting-edge research. Sitting only a few meters away from a nobel laureate giving a talk is very inspiring! Another highlight were the incredible people I met at the department and the close friendships I was fortunate enough to forge.
What was your professional path from graduating from the ECON Department to your current position?
After my undergraduate studies at the UZH, I moved to London to study towards a MSc. in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Living in London as a young economist during the Brexit negotiations was thrilling. The events around me informed my Master´s thesis on non-tariff trade policy with one of the leading professors on Brexit. I examined the effects of the Bilateral I agreement, a bundle of mostly non-tariff treaties between the EU and Switzerland, on the Swiss economy.
After graduating from the LSE, I worked full-time on two research projects at Yale University. The first was a big data project on the role of immigrants on US economic growth and the second one examined the drivers of rising US wage inequality through the lens of a labour market matching model.
How do you describe your current job?
I am currently part of the Vanguard Investment Strategy Group (ISG) in London. As an economist in the ISG, we monitor and assess economic and financial developments in Europe and publish research on topics like global macroeconomics. The work at Vanguard is stimulating. It offers me the possibility to conduct high quality research that is fast paced and topical, while being close to the real economy. At the moment, for instance, we extensively investigate the impact of Covid-19 on GDP growth in Europe.
Brexit, the Coronavirus, the role of immigrants or wage inequality – the day to day business of an economist are the crucial developments of our time. The tools and methods acquired during my time at the UZH help me make sense of them, which is what I enjoyed most about my ECON eduation and my professional path thereafter.
Which skills, which you have learned during your time at the ECON Department, helped you most during your career and (how) do you apply the skills you learned during your studies these days?
When studying at the LSE there certainly were times where Keynes, Krugman & Co. could not get my full attention and I would have rather spent my day playing tennis or taking advantage of the great London galleries. But luckily, the ECON Department provided me with a tremendous, broad and solid - yet technically rigorous - foundation in various fields from business ethics to international trade, ideally preparing me for one of the most demanding economics masters in the world. My ECON education went beyond pure economics, and the tools and methods acquired during my undergraduate studies are useful in countless life situations.
What are your future plans?
In the near to medium term, I strive to do a PhD in economics to hone my quantitative skills and deepen my knowledge of international economics and financial markets.
Roxane Spitznagel, MSc. Economics, 2019