From high school debate lead to economic analyst

From high school debate lead to economic analyst

Analyst, Caty Guerrero, shares an insight into her path to becoming an economist, working at Frontier and life in lockdown.

I made the decision that  economics was what I wanted to study, when I was 16 years old. I was head of the debate team in high school and most of the debate topics were related to economics. I loved engaging in debates with the other team, and to be able to explain complex concepts in an understandable way in order to win the case. That’s when I realised that becoming an expert in the field of economics  gives you the skills to solve very interesting problems and you can use these skills to have a meaningful impact addressing some really important questions, which affect governments, businesses and society as a whole.

My time at one of the biggest global banks

Once I finished my undergrad studies in Tecnológico de Monterrey (México), I worked for almost 4 years as an investment specialist in one of the biggest global banks. Whilst working there, my desire to use my skills to help people understand complex economic questions grew even bigger. At the bank, my job involved giving advice to investors on their investment portfolios. I tried to mix economics with the needs of the client to deliver tailor-made portfolios. My clients appreciated that I was able to explain complex economic concepts to them, and how this affected their investments and their daily lives.

Back to basics

Although I liked my job, I wanted to go back to basics and become a fully-fledged economist, not a banker. In order to make that happen, I thought that a good way to start my career change would be by doing a masters in economics and specialising in an area of economics that I liked. At that time, in Mexico, a series of reforms took place. The financial regulation reform was part of that series of reforms. I therefore had the opportunity to see first-hand how a regulation affects the business as usual of the banking sector. That’s when I decided to apply for a Masters in Competition and Market Regulation at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (GSE) and I moved my life to Barcelona.

The masters surpassed all of my expectations, and I was glad that I had made the move from banking to economics. After graduation, I became Massimo Motta’s Teaching Assistant – Massimo is a research professor at Barcelona GSE. This gave me the opportunity to share my knowledge with future economists and affirmed in me the importance of communicating to help others understand economics.

Having completed my masters and spent time as a teaching assistant at Barcelona GSE, I realised that the perfect job for me would be the one that that mixes a lot of economics with being able to communicate how economics can help solve important questions and problems. The perfect job for me was in economic consulting.

The start of my Frontier Economics journey

Applying to Frontier Economics was something that I had in mind the moment I realised I wanted to work in consulting. What makes Frontier stand out  from other consulting firms is how much they care about their people. Throughout the interview process I looked for signs to see current employees were happy, and from what I could see, they were very happy to be working at Frontier.

Applying to the Madrid office was a natural step for me, not only because I am a native Spanish speaker, but also because they do a lot of project work with Latin America, and in particular with Mexico. Who knows, maybe in the future I can help expand Frontier offices to Latin America! 

August 5th 2019 was my first day of work. I remember very well how happy and nervous I was. I took the bus (route 14), and got off at the Gregorio Marañon stop. I looked at the building (Castellana 60) and said to myself how lucky I was to be starting my dream job. More than a year has passed since that day, and I still feel just as happy.

Moving to Madrid was also very exciting. Madrid is a city that has it all, very good cuisine, beautiful parks, nightlife, and a lot of diversity. I must admit that is colder than what I expected, but I do come from sunny Mexico…

Lockdown living

In 2020 things changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Spain was put into lockdown, which meant that  going to the office was prohibited. At first I was not that anxious, since I had the impression the lockdown was only going to last 2 weeks…I decided to use the lockdown to my advantage, by embracing cross-office working and connecting with colleagues across our network of international offices that I may not have otherwise spoken to. This worked out quite nicely. I also learnt to work efficiently at home, and to exercise during the time I would have otherwise been commuting. My dietary habits improved drastically, and my dog was so happy to have me home all the time.

When the Madrid office opened by mid-June, whilst there was no pressure for myself or colleagues to return to the office, I decided to go in once a week. I had the opportunity to catch-up with some of my colleagues and the change of scene certainly helped a lot.  

I didn’t felt that the lockdown made me take a step back in my career. I still perform the same tasks that I used to do before lockdown. I still run economic models, write reports, do presentations, help in the practice business development, just in a different location.

Actually, during the lockdown I experienced one of my first career highlights at Frontier, which was co-authoring my very first article for the website, and it was the most read Frontier website article that week.

The advice I would give to someone applying to Frontier is to really understand its values. Frontier is a firm that lives by its values every day, so be sure that these values are what you’re looking for. Although, who wouldn’t like to work in a Fun, Interesting, Open, and Profitable company!?

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