Describe your role and what it is that you do overall and on a day-to-day basis.
I am an economist at the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic. One part of my job is to prepare short-term economic forecasts of several government expenditures (mostly social security transfers like sickness benefit or unemployment benefits). This is especially important in order to provide transparency and for the public to easily understand budget statements (aka how much money is going where and more importantly, why it is going there). Another more policy-oriented part of my job is that I prepare analyses and policy recommendations in the area of family and gender policies, especially in regards to the system of social transfers and labor market policies. My role is to analyze whether these policies really serve their goals and what to change to make these systems more functional, inclusive and accessible.
What interested you about the field/company/role you are currently in?
I liked the idea of doing work could affect the everyday life of everyone in my country, so I decided to see if my intuition was true. And now I really like that my colleagues and I can use our knowledge and power to make everyone’s life better by making our public policies smarter. Once in the role, I realized that because I come from a small country I can be in the room where important decisions are being made, even as an early-career professional, which is also a great opportunity. Besides these factors, I like the possibility of cooperation with many international organizations like the European Commission, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) or the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that provide endless potential for personal and also institutional development.
What is most exciting about your work at the moment? Where do you think your field is going in the next 5-10 years?
Hopefully we will implement some new techniques in the national financial planning. I hope that we will make use of all the data that has been collected on public revenues and spending and that we will optimize and provide the biggest value for money through optimal setup of public policies. Also, I hope that we will implement gender-responsive budgeting or green-responsive financial planning, which means that we would look at public spending and evaluate whether it promotes gender equality or fights climate change, and focus on implementing policies that target these goals.
What was so appealing about the SSE Masters in Economics program when you were considering where to go for your Masters degree? Or what was so appealing about Stockholm/Sweden?
There are just so many reasons why I chose Sweden! I really wanted to try to live in a different country with a different language in order to improve my English. This was clear for me pretty early on, therefore I started searching among the best schools with Masters in Economics programs in Europe and SSE was on that list. I was also in Umeå (northern Sweden) at the time for my exchange and I really liked it, so I wanted to stay in Sweden a little longer. What I also liked is that the Masters program in Sweden was financially accessible, which was very inclusive and a great opportunity. As for the city, it is just every bit as beautiful as in pictures and I fell in love with walking around the city - I loved the energy! And I liked the idea that Stockholm is home to the Nobel prize in Economics, I felt like so many genius economists walked around Stockholm that I just wanted to be near all of them and their knowledge.
How did your time/education at SSE help guide you to the career journey you have embarked on?
The courses that really shaped my career decisions were Development Economics and Behavioral Economics. The lecturers provided several case studies that evaluated different public policy experiments or approaches in order to improve the life of citizens. In class we had endless discussions on how to make policies smarter and more intuitive and functional and I liked that idea and knowledge that smart policies can help many people to a large extent. With that in mind, I decided to pursue a career at the Ministry of Finance.
Following your time studying, do you have any words of wisdom or advice you would like to share with our current/prospective students?
I would just recommend to attend as many school activities as possible (besides all the parties and such). There were just so many amazing lectures and presentations (besides usual classes) with representatives from the public sector, private sector and academia. It is really good that you can talk to them and hear how many different carrier paths there are to choose from. Thanks to that I feel like I have made a pretty good educated guess on what I want to do in life. Thanks to that, I do not regret my decision to return home and to work in the area of public policy.
What are three words that sum up your time at SSE?
Introducing new horizons.