Chenchen found that Quantitative Economics was especially important in teaching the basics of coding for data analysis, which now helps him manage large datasets working for the Commerce Commission.
Programme: BA / BSc Conjoint
Majors: Economics, Physics, and Mathematics
I decided to study economics since I was interested in game theory and the strategic decisions players make that don’t seem to have obvious explanations from the outset. This then led me to take an interest in industrial organisation and competition economics, which looks at the ways firms respond to different incentives.
I also majored in Physics and Mathematics through my Arts/Science Conjoint; physics because I was interested in how expected laws broke down at the quantum level, and mathematics was something I added later. I actually already had to take a lot of maths papers to study Economics and Physics, and soon enough I started to enjoy the problem solving aspects, and found the exercise of writing proofs was quite elegant.
Ultimately though, Industrial Economics is my bread and butter. I’ve been working at the Commerce Commission as an Assistant Economist, and I use and apply principles of economics in my job to support the decisions the Commission makes. These can range from whether companies should be allowed to merge, to in-depth analysis of particular markets.
A strong grasp on mathematics has made it a lot easier to engage with and understand the theoretical underpinnings of economics. I also think the skills I’ve picked up from mathematics have made my thinking more rigorous and more considered.
And although I’ve also gained a lot of quantitative analytical skills from Physics as well, Quantitative Economics was especially important in teaching me the basics of coding for data analysis. This has made me more comfortable analysing some of the large datasets in my work.
I was interested in game theory and the strategic decisions players make that don’t seem to have obvious explanations from the outset. This then led me to take an interest in industrial organisation and competition economics, which looks at the ways firms respond to different incentives.
Overall I would say the programme I studied gave me a lot of freedom to explore a wide range of topics. In particular, I enjoyed the Science Scholars programme, where I learned a lot about the world of research and built some great friendships with people outside my discipline. I also served on the executive of the University of Auckland Debating Society for three years, culminating in serving as president in 2021. Taking part in the Debating Society taught me a lot both about public speaking, but also about leadership.
I also got the University of Auckland Top Achievers Scholarship out of high school. It was helpful since it gave me a spot in halls of residence, and ensured I could focus on University in my first year whilst I transitioned from high school to university without having to get a job.
I’m glad my studies have got me to where I am, as I enjoy working with a group of highly skilled, thoughtful and intelligent colleagues on a day-to-day basis, all of whom make the Commission a great place to work. I also really enjoy working closely with economic theory, and on quite tricky problems. And finally, I think that the work that we do is important, and helps make markets that deliver better outcomes for all New Zealanders.