Manuela, International Economic Policy

Manuela, International Economic Policy

Thu, 2023-05-25 09:00
  • Manuela KiehlManuela Kiehl

Manuela Kiehl has graduated in International Economic Policy, with concentrations in Methods and Global Economy. German and Colombian, she is now working as a Climate Economist at Oxford Economics in London. 

What is your role and main responsibilities?

I’m in the Scenarios and Macroeconomic Modelling team of Oxford Economics. A key aspect of my work is running climate and energy scenarios as part of our “Global Climate Service” subscriptions offering, to model and quantify macroeconomic impacts of risks to the global economy - especially of physical risks from climate change and transition risks from climate mitigation policy. This means analysing different pathways of how the world could develop, using Oxford Economics’ “Global Economic Model”, a model that connects the economy, the energy system, and the environment. Amongst others, we have a “Net Zero” scenario, a “Delayed Transition” scenario, and a “Climate Catastrophe” scenario, with very different assumptions and implications. Some themes that I explore are for example: carbon taxation, carbon capture, and the expansion of renewable energy sources – and how making an assumption on any of these variables would feed through the economy, looking at a lot of different countries. With the team we run such scenarios on a quarterly basis and we also add new scenarios, which involves for example research to build scenario narratives. 

Research is a central part of my role. Alongside the scenarios work I have written several research briefings and recently co-published a paper on the macroeconomic effects of global warming. I have summarised my research on this topic on this blog post here.

Currently I’m doing further research on climate adaptation. My role also involves consulting work, mainly bespoke scenarios for clients.

How did you secure this role?

I joined Oxford Economics as part of the “graduate scheme” as an Assistant Economist. Actually, when I applied for Oxford Economics I didn’t know that a graduate scheme existed. I just saw a vacancy on Oxford Economics’ careers site for an Economist position in the Econometrics team that interested me and applied for it. I interviewed with the Econometrics team and was then hired on the graduate scheme. My first year at Oxford Economics I worked in the Econometrics team, before moving to the Scenarios and Macroeconomic Modelling team and becoming an Economist. 

What is the most fascinating and/or surprising aspect of your role?

I find it particularly fascinating to see the deep linkages of climate research and scenarios to current international affairs. For example, just before the Brazil elections in October, last year, I was helping out on a research briefing about how the Brazil presidential election outcome could be consequential for the Amazon rainforest biome and the fight against climate change. The research that I’m currently doing on climate adaptation is also very linked to international affairs as adaptation is playing an increasing role in climate policy across all regions. 

Most surprising to me is probably the wide range of topics and variables that climate/energy scenarios can cover, and how different the scenarios can be. 

How did your PSIA experience help you with the role?

My specialisation in methods plus the econometrics courses that I took were certainly key in helping me secure the role in the econometrics team. At PSIA I learnt how to use Stata and R, which I have used a lot at work, and which makes it easier to familiarise myself with Python. In particular, the “Advanced Econometrics: Panel Series” was incredibly helpful as I have worked and continue to work with panel data a lot. The “Country Risk Analysis” course also helped me familiarise myself with a lot of data sources that I hadn’t used before. 

Furthermore, the policy-oriented and applied economics approach of the International Economic Policy Master was key for helping me contextualise economic theory and applying it in practice. 

And of course the international outlook of the mastersand of PSIA has been very useful when it comes to modelling scenarios with impacts across many different economies, as well as for the consulting work that I have done in both teams. 

The opportunity of using the 3rd semester at PSIA for an internship was also a useful preparation for the job world: It was a crucial experience that I could talk about in the interviews and it also allowed me to learn more about myself in terms of which kinds of topics and areas of work I enjoy. 

What advice would you give to others? 

Apply early if you can. For graduate schemes in the UK it is common to apply almost a year before the graduate schemes start (with most starting in September of the year you graduate – but there is some flexibility). I found that applying early helped me be less nervous in the interviews and took away some of the pressure. And sometimes vacancies are filled on a rolling basis so even if the deadline is a lot later it can be to your advantage to apply early. 

Practice interview answers out loud, either by yourself or with friends. 

Believe in yourself. Even if you get some rejections – it’s part of the process, and you will find your place eventually. Don’t give up! 

Ask yourself: What drives/motivates me? What am I passionate about? 

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