In its new series “Staff in Focus”, London Economics aims to highlight the variety of work we do and shine the spotlight on a different member of staff and their experience each month. In this inaugural edition, we spoke to Economic Consultant, Clio Von Petersdorff about what got her interested in economics, and particularly a career in consulting…
Why did you choose to study economics?
To be honest, I had never heard of economics until I started university. I started studying Industrial Psychology with the intention of using that degree to increase the well-being of workers and employees. Economics was one of the many first-year modules I took and it quickly became my favourite subject – I figured that they were very similar but economics works on a much larger scale. An industrial psychologist can suggest firm-wide policies that increase the well-being of employees in one firm, but an economist can suggest public policies that can impact entire nations.
Consulting has always appealed to me because you gain exposure to clients from many different industries. Every project is so different and comes with its own set of challenges, which require you to think creatively and find unique solutions.
What attracted you to LE when looking for a job?
LE is a small, young and international company, and the working environment reflects that. But despite its relatively small size it was easy to see the link between the projects and the public policy they influence.
My master’s was in behavioural economics, but I always worried that specialising would box me into a particular field and there are so many other fields I’m curious about. London Economics allowed me to explore interests outside of behavioural economics. Analysts and consultants are also encouraged to ‘shop around’ within different practice areas before specialising in a specific team, and many of the more senior staff work across different areas too.
What’s been the most interesting project you’ve worked on since you joined?
I have learned a lot about some truly niche topics through the projects I’ve been involved in: Why are more boys diagnosed with autism than girls? How many aluminium cans and PET bottles end up as litter in the Dead Sea? How will quantum computing impact cyber security? How do social media bots increase political polarisation?
An interesting project I worked on towards the beginning of the pandemic was about “fake news” and face masks. Our task was to estimate the amount of harm caused in the UK by misinformation spread on social media.
What advice would you give to girls considering studying economics?
Firstly, don’t ever let anyone (but especially not a boy) intimidate you. They may all seem really smart, but so are you, so don’t underestimate yourself. A helpful thing to remember is that literally everyone (including all of the smartest people you’ll ever meet) experience imposter syndrome sometimes.
Ask/answer lots of questions and argue your point if you disagree with something during a lecture. Speaking up during lectures can feel scary, especially when most of your classmates are men, but it stops being scary pretty quickly. The more you speak up the more comfortable other women will feel to speak up too, and this will ultimately lead to more interesting lectures which are representative of a multitude of opinions (something that everyone can benefit from). My top tip to get over public speaking fears: sit in the front row and pretend there is no one behind you.