My First Steps: Nick Hodges, CEPA (Economics and Public Policy consulting)

The latest in our My First Steps series comes courtesy of Nick Hodges, who’s here to shine a light on Economic Consultancy as a career choice – possibly little-known up to now, it could provide an interesting and fulfilling route for a number of our students. We do have information on some related career choices in the Legal, political, charity and international organisations of our Career Kit, but for now it’s over to Nick…..

I’ll start with a confession… Despite having done my job for a few years now, I am still met with confused faces when I try to explain what I do. Maybe the difficulty in accurately describing a career in economic consulting explains why this wasn’t discussed as an option when I studied (despite me doing economics & public policy!) This was an experience shared by many of my current colleagues.

But I’m really glad that I happened upon an advert for a small economic consulting firm looking for a new joiner. I was coasting towards a career in The City and the bright lights of such a job – and when I see these firms advertising alongside us at careers fairs with VR headset presentations and lots of swag, I can see why that’s a natural choice. Even if I didn’t like it, it’d be good experience and instill discipline for a couple of years, right? Within a year at an investment bank (albeit in economic research rather than the front line), I realised that it wasn’t the right fit for me, despite having quite enjoyed previous work experience in the sector.

I can only reflect on my experience and what I felt from undertaking one role in a sector employing over a million people in the UK. But for me, in economic consulting, I now get what I missed in that previous role – the variety of working across a number of projects, smart colleagues able to let their work speak for itself, and getting to utilise my degrees on projects that have a broad public policy impact. I’m sure there are lots of other people like me out there who’d thrive in economic consulting, if only they were aware of the work.

If we try to distill down what we do – economic consulting involves providing informed analysis to policy makers, regulators and businesses to help solve problems or aid decision-making. This could be on renewable support mechanisms in energy, the policy framework for the new runway at Heathrow or deciding how to best target funds to improve health outcomes in developing countries.

There are differences between economic consultancies, so make sure you do your research. To find out more about where I work, please visit our website.