Interview with Economist Boglárka Molnár
We interviewed Economist Boglárka Molnár from the Cambridge Econometrics Team in Hungary covering her work highlights so far, what inspired her to become an economist and what she likes to do in her spare time.
Tell us about your role at Cambridge Econometrics
I am an economist in the Environment team of Cambridge Econometrics, based in our Budapest office. Our team focuses on energy and climate policy related topics, such as carbon abatement policy options, circular economy or scenario-modelling of large-scale renewables deployment projects. I am responsible for supporting consultancy projects with a wide range of economic analysis, working with large datasets, developing bespoke economic models relevant to the project and performing economic impact assessments.
Apart from our topical team, I am also keen to support the Hungarian office’s expansion plan to gain more presence locally and in the Central European region, thus I dedicate some of my time to business development purposes in this area.
I am positive that our global expertise in data analysis and economic modelling can be used to great effect in addressing local issues and in supporting policy making in our region.
What happens in a typical day – what does your job involve?
Typically, my projects are a nice and balanced combination of research and analysis carried out individually (including both modelling analysis and reporting of findings), internal meetings during the week with the project team, and client meetings as often as the project requires to discuss progress and talk over interim results (now all of them online, of course).
What do you enjoy most about your job?
- Variety of projects – even within the Environment Team, there is a huge amount of variety in the type, size and topic of the projects we do.
- Critical approach to our work – We often ask ourselves ‘Do we believe what our models tell us before sharing them with the client? What are the limitations of our approach that we are aware of?’
- Trust – the trust that Cambridge Econometrics colleagues have in each other is something that I have experienced from my first day with the company!
Trust allows us to take on large chunk of individual responsibility in team projects and that offers a great learning opportunity from day one.
- Applied economics – being able to apply academic research methods and economic theory for real-life policy questions and topics.
- International teams and international impact – I get to work for high-profile clients addressing highly important climate policy issues, with great people across all three of Cambridge Econometrics’ offices in Budapest, Brussels and Cambridge. All whilst staying based at home in Budapest!
Tell us about the project you’re working on at the moment
Most recently I have been involved in a research project titled ‘The Case for a Green and Just Recovery’, where we looked at the labour-market implications of a set of green COVID-19 recovery policy measures being implemented in six model cities around the globe.
We also investigated the skills shortages and training needs for the green jobs created, as well as the difference in job quality between the created clean and dirty jobs. Our work on this piece has just finished, and besides the interesting topic it has also been a great example of how Cambridge Econometrics as an organisation succeeds in finding and addressing the most pressing and relevant policy issues of our days.
Of which piece of work are you most proud?
I have been with Cambridge Econometrics for two years now, and during this time I have had the chance to dive into quite a few interesting projects and topics. Perhaps the most challenging but rewarding one was the project in which we looked at the economic impact of past natural disasters at the most detailed regional level possible (NUTS3 regions), covering the whole EU. In this work I was assigned to develop the modelling approach as well as to deliver the analysis itself. This proved to be challenging sometimes, but also enabled me to pick up useful technical and process management skills and to learn a lot on the way.
One of the key findings of the project was that unfortunately our geographical region – Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries – tend to be relatively more affected by the assessed natural hazards (floods, droughts, windstorms and earthquakes) than most other parts of Europe. This was also the case in economic terms (disaster damages versus the economic output of the regions).
While the project is still ongoing, interim results and the related materials are already published for those interested.
What inspired you to become an economist?
Economics for me is a way to observe and understand causes and effects in the world we live in: it helps me interpret complex processes and it also offers tools to predict and evaluate the effects of certain interventions in the economy.
I have never found purely theoretical approaches sufficiently impactful or interesting enough to me (and I must admit, I could never be the person who finds herself both talented and passionate enough for a career in more theoretical fields). Thus, after graduation I was looking for a more applied fashion of operating as an economist, and for the possibility to apply academic approaches in addressing real world problems – such as the overarching economic and social consequences of the changing climate. Cambridge Econometrics is just a perfect place to do this!
What advice would you give to someone looking at economics as a career?
- Prioritise developing the technical skills that are necessary to deliver high-quality work efficiently.
- Try to identify professional role-models (ideally, you will find them amongst your colleagues) who are more senior in the field and who you can learn a lot from – whether that is developing modelling approach in a specific field, excelling your inter-personal soft skills or figuring out what would be the best area of expertise for you in the wider field of economics.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
When I’m not working, I love baking cookies, dancing modern jazz ballet and scuba diving. If you had asked me the one thing I dislike about my home country, scuba diving, unfortunately, cannot really be practiced in Hungary – so this is surely a hobby I will be extremely cheerful to do again in a post-COVID world!