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A Third Interview with NERA: Insights into Economic Consulting



It is always useful to understand what entry level opportunities exist across the economic sector and to hear of other's experiences. Hence, we had the chance to talk with Sofia Birattari-- a consultant and previous intern of NERA Economic Consulting. With five years of work in the energy practice at NERA, Sofia shed light on her work and her experience working from an intern up to a senior role.


NERA Economic Consulting is a leading economic consultancy with more than 25 offices around the world. They have a wide variety of practice areas including Antitrust and Competition, and Energy, Environment, Communications, and Infrastructure. NERA consultants apply quantitative, economic and finance techniques to tackle their client’s complex business and legal challenges. NERA is currently a sponsor of the Women in Economics Initiative. And for more insights into NERA, check out the first and second interviews about a career in economic consulting.


Here’s what we learned:


Could you explain your current role at NERA and your main area of expertise? I am now a Consultant within NERA’s energy team in London. Consultant is the first senior role at NERA, meaning I manage the day to day of projects, including following and reviewing juniors’ work and maintaining the regular communication with clients – although sometimes I still get to do some analysis/research myself. Within the energy team I’ve worked in various regulated industries, (electricity/gas, water, but also rail and gambling!) but my main focus has been the electricity sector. I’ve now done a bit of everything in electricity, from wholesale to retail market dynamics, to network regulation, to designing auctions for renewables, to modelling whole power systems to assess reforms.

 

How was your experience with the internship program? How did you find out about the programme? Were you able to learn about different expertise areas? I found out about the internship in my first year of masters’ (my programme lasted two years) through my university’s job fair. And I definitely had a positive application and interview experience – everyone involved was incredibly nice and helpful. I learned a lot during my internship, especially because it was my very first office job and I had zero knowledge of some of the basic tools, like Excel. By the end I got to write a short report all by myself! Then my director rewrote 80% of it…

  

Overall as an intern I got to learn about different industries within the energy and water space, and both use and refine my economic background. A fun plus as a non-native English speaker is that you get to work on your writing skills in English, but also there’s always a need for foreign language skills since both the team and the clients are very international. Since my internship in 2018 I think I’ve helped out with tasks in almost every Latin language – maybe I’m missing Catalan then I have a bingo.

 

How was the transition from being an intern to a NERA Research Officer? Were there any challenges or highlights you would like to mention? One thing I like about the NERA internship is that interns and Research Officers (i.e. the first junior role for permanent hires) basically do the same type of work, so I got a good idea of the permanent hires’ work during the internship and the transition was not so stark. I think new starters can sometimes find the beginning challenging as they want to do well from the get go and there’s so much to learn about new topics – but energy now is a big team with plenty of more experienced people who are happy to help, you just need to ask. I was lucky to have a good “adjustment period” when I started out as a Research Officer when I could get accustomed to the day-to-day.


What advice would you give to economic students that would like to be part of the NERA internship programme? To come say hi at job fairs/business games! We’re always happy to answer all questions about the application process and life at NERA.

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