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Johanna Modigsson

Working as an economist in the field of public policy is not just about statistics and numbers, says Johanna Modigsson, BSc in Business and Economics & MSc in Economics alum and Economic Counsellor at the Delegation of Sweden to the OECD. Being in the intersection between economics and politics also requires communication, negotiation, diplomacy, political intuition and some common sense.

Describe your role and what it is that you do overall and on a day-to-day basis.

I am currently on loan from the Ministry of Finance to work as an Economic Counsellor at the Delegation of Sweden to the OECD, in Paris. The OECD conducts wide-ranging analysis and provides data, standards and policy recommendations to member and partner countries. Every day is different, but I generally follow and contribute to the economic analysis done at the OECD, represent Sweden in the economic committees and working groups and support our national ministries and delegates in OECD-related matters.

 

How did you become interested in economic/financial policy?

Economic policy covers many areas that shape society and the public debate, including how to support sustainable growth and high living standards, how to strengthen resilience and manage crises, and how to ensure social security and equality. I chose to study economics because I wanted to learn more about these matters. After graduating from SSE, I started working for the Swedish Fiscal Policy Council and have since worked with macroeconomic analysis, forecasting and economic modelling at the Ministry of Finance.

 

What is exciting about your field at the moment? What are the challenges given the current climate (instability, post-pandemic, etc.)

In times of crises there is always a great demand for analysis, policy guidance and multilateral coordination, and international organisations like the OECD have an important role to play in this respect. But most countries are also facing long-term challenges, which will require significant efforts and cooperation to figure out solutions to. Often there is no consensus on the best way to solve a problem, but this only emphasises the importance of providing evidence-based analysis to give policymakers a sound basis for decisions.

 

How do you see your work/role developing in the next 5/10 years?

My work so far has been a steep learning curve and I hope that I can continue on a similar trajectory in the future. I have never been much for 10 year plans so we will see what the future holds.

 

What is the one thing you would like people to understand about your work?

Working as an economist in the field of public policy is not just about statistics and numbers. Being in the intersection between economics and politics also requires communication, negotiation, diplomacy, political intuition and some common sense.

 

How did your time/education at SSE help guide you to the career journey you have embarked on?

In my work I get to apply the economic theories that I learned during my studies regularly. The intense workload during my studies has also given me a work discipline which has been useful later on.

 

Following your time studying, do you have any words of wisdom or advice you would like to share with our current students?

Do not be afraid to stray from the beaten path. Many of the career opportunities that I see now I was completely unaware of during my time as a student. There is much to be explored and many alternative career paths that do not follow a straight line.

 

What are three words that sum up your time at SSE?

Exhausting, energising, friendships.