Could you introduce your educational background and career pathways? Did you have any interactions with economics at a high school or university level?

I graduated from the University of NSW where I completed a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in mathematics. To balance out the hard science of mathematics I followed this up with an MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at UNSW. Career wise I have held numerous positions ranging from an analyst with Barclays Bank, followed by various middle and senior management positions with Citigroup, ING, State Street, Colonial First State and now First Sentier Investors. My main interaction with economics was at university as part of my post-graduate studies.


What was the reasoning behind your choice of studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science?

I enjoyed mathematics at school and although I had no idea where it would ultimately take me, it was a natural next step. Computer science was a field of interest. Mathematics builds analytical & critical thought, logical reasoning and problem solving skills. Skills that I felt would stand the test of time and hold me in good stead.

 

What does the role of Head of Performance at First Sentier Investors entail?

First Sentier Investors (FSI) is a global fund manager with a client base that extends across Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. FSI invests more than AUD 200 billion across equities, cash and fixed income, infrastructure and multi-asset solutions. I work with a team of analysts to evaluate the relative and absolute investment performance of our funds across all asset classes. We want to understand the drivers, how investment decisions such as stock selection, asset allocation decisions and currency tilts impact fund returns. We use several attribution models, including equity, fixed income, balanced and others to identify the securities or sectors that contributed or detracted from portfolio fund performance. We also monitor risk across our portfolios to ensure we are tracking within acceptable volatility measures.

 

How did an average day at work look like for you before COVID 19, and how does it look like now?

Apart from the lack of human interaction (except for my kids creating havoc!) - the average day is pretty much the same now as it was before COVID 19. This is because most of our working day involves sitting behind a computer screen monitoring portfolios, communicating with fund managers, distribution staff and clients.

 

Can you tell us to what extent studying economics either in high school or university would have an impact on those wishing to pursue a career like yours?

 An economics degree will boost your employability in many areas. There is strong demand for highly numerate graduates throughout the labour market, and the widely transferable analytical and problem-solving skills developed by economics students means that careers in economics are extremely wide ranging and diverse. So certainly studying economics will have a positive impact on those wishing to pursue a career in investment management. Having said that, there are many successful people in this industry with backgrounds as diverse as engineering, mathematics, chemistry, mining, law, computer science, finance, economics and history to name a few.

An economics degree will boost your employability in many areas


Did your Master of Business Administration at the University of NSW (AGSM) incorporate any economics?

Yes, economics was part of the mix, although an MBA is generalist in nature and teaches a broad range of disciplines. I found the economics component interesting because it provided a framework for understanding the actions and decisions of individuals, businesses and governments.

Economics provided a framework for understanding the actions and decisions of individuals, businesses and governments

Economics is perceived as quite distant and irrelevant to our lives by many students. Could you recount to us your personal experiences and interactions with economics, and how relevant it is to your life?

 Economics is all around us and affects our daily lives. From an individual perspective, economics frames choices we make each day with the limited resourced we have. I am constantly interacting with economic choices (opportunity cost). Do I take my family on a holiday or invest the money for the future? Do I catch the bus or drive? Purchase take-away food or make dinner? As a university student I had limited time to prepare for exams, I could chose to study, work to earn extra cash or relax. Choosing to work and maximise my income in the short term at the expense of my studies may in fact result in reduced future earnings and could be a poor economic decision.

 

Economics is all around us and affects our daily lives