School of Economics

Johanna Welsch

Johanna Welsch
Subject: MSc Economics and International Economics

Graduated: 2013
Place of work: Competition and Markets Authority
Position: Economic Adviser

Johanna studied economics in her native Germany and in Denmark before deciding to pursue a masters in the UK. Attracted by a more "applied" approach to the discipline, she assembled a shortlist of six universities and finally chose Nottingham.


How did you first become interested in economics?

I took it as one of my majors in high school and really enjoyed it. My teacher suggested I should look into it as a possible subject at university, so I followed her advice - partly due to a lack of other good choices, I must admit - and enrolled for a BSc in economics in Munich.

Why did you choose to study at the School of Economics at Nottingham?

During my BSc I went to Denmark on an Erasmus Scholarship and realised that in other countries economics is taught in a more "applied" way than in Germany. So for my masters I decided to study somewhere else in Europe.

England has a really good reputation for economics degrees, and I looked at many universities in the UK. In the end I chose six to visit. Nottingham stood out: it had by far the nicest campus, the people were very helpful and supportive, and I liked the fact that you could specialise in different areas of the discipline.

What are your fondest memories of your time at the school?

Probably my lunches with my friends - both during exam time and when we were writing our dissertations. I remember that at the end of the year we had amazing weather, which made it very hard to stay in the library and keep working.

During one of those days I received an email containing the offer for my current job. I was so excited that I had to tell my friends, one of whom took me to Mooch, the on-campus burger bar, where we had a couple of beers in the sunshine. There and then I knew that the hard work had paid off.

What advice would you give to someone considering or about to start a course at the school?

Go for it. It's a great place to study - very diverse, with lots of great people from all over the world. If you're willing to work hard, everyone is very supportive and will push you to achieve your best.

Besides that, Nottingham is a fun city to live in, with great nightlife and some nice places to explore. The campus is just beautiful, and it's also a big university for sports.

Tell us about life since graduation

Straight away, in September 2013, I joined the Government Economic Service's Analytical Fast Stream as an assistant economist, which placed me at the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). In 2014 the OFT merged with the Competition Commission and was renamed the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and in March 2015 I left the Fast Stream to become permanently employed by the CMA as an economic adviser.



What exactly does the job involve?

In my everyday job I consider how competition is affected by agreements between firms, by firms' conduct and by mergers. I conduct economic analysis for market studies, competition and consumer enforcement cases and mergers. My economic analysis is based on the theory of industrial organisation, competition economics and behavioural economics. 

From the very beginning I had lots of responsibility and worked independently on my own pieces of analysis. That's great on the one hand, as you learn a lot, but it can also be challenging when you're relatively new to the role.

It sounds very challenging

It's very fast-moving, and sometimes deadlines are tight. But you get used to it and learn to prioritise.

How have your experiences at the school helped shape and develop your career?

The way we were taught to analyse an economic problem and draft an economic argument has been especially useful in my everyday work.

It's not just about economic skills, though. My time at Nottingham also taught me how to communicate with people from different backgrounds, how to be tolerant and how to see situations from other people's perspectives - and that has been very important.

Finally, although maybe I didn't expect this, the applied econometrics course has turned out to be tremendously useful. I sometimes even find myself looking back at the slides!

Are you still in touch with your fellow alumni and, if so, how do you stay in contact?

Yes, we're still in touch. I made a lot of close friends at the school. Many of them also came to London to work, so we see each other regularly. Those who aren't in London stay in touch via social media and visit when they're passing through.

Have you been back to the school since you graduated?

Yes. I still have some friends who live in Nottingham, so when I visit them I have a nostalgic stroll around the campus and knock on my old supervisor's door - although so far I haven't found him in...




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