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An Interview with NERA: Insights into Economic Consulting

Navigating the work force and understanding what opportunities exist is no easy task. So, we took the time to sit down with Leonie Janisch, Economic Analyst at NERA Economic Consulting to learn more about NERA’s work. 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.

Here’s what we learned:

How does the weekly schedule of a NERA Economic consultant look like? How much time do you spend working by yourself versus in teams; what do you spend your time working on e.g. analyses etc.?

Every Monday we have a team meeting to discuss the status of projects and assign teams. Our project teams may include people from different offices, since we are closely collaborating across the global NERA company. In the past, I have worked with colleagues in Paris, London and the US and especially the Energy teams in Berlin and London are working together frequently.

Most of the time our teams are working from our offices, traveling to clients when necessary, for instance for presentations and workshops.

Usually, at junior level we spend most of our time with research, analyses and the preparation of outputs for our clients. Whether you are working by yourself or with a larger project team really depends on the project, the project stage and the specific task at hand.

What do you like about your work at NERA? What is the most challenging part of working at an economic consultancy like NERA?

Working at NERA means working on interesting and often complex questions with smart and experienced people. Applying economic concepts to analyse real-world problems provides great opportunities for learning and developing your own expertise. Since my team’s work is mainly within the energy sector the past few years have been particularly interesting. Topics such as the market-ramp up of hydrogen, the future role of natural gas, the coal-phase out and the accelerated energy transition are at the centre of the public debate and reflected in many of our projects. Moreover, I appreciate the variety of project types and methodological approaches we are using which provide ample opportunities for further developing and expanding one’s skill-set.

In addition, one of the most interesting aspects of our work is communicating economic concepts and analyses to different audiences, including non-economists, and to ensure our outputs effectively inform decision making processes.

What types of projects are you working on and could you describe a project from the energy practice that you have worked on and what made it exciting?

Broadly speaking, in NERA’s Energy, Environment, Infrastructure and Communications Practice we have three types of projects. In arbitrations, we act as experts supporting the respective proceedings for instance with economic assessments of the merits and quantum estimations of occurred damages. In due diligence projects, we support sellers and potential buyers during transactions with analyses of the relevant regulatory frameworks and commercial aspects of the relevant market. Finally, consulting projects can take many forms and may include the quantification of the impact regulatory changes may have on energy market participants, assessments of developments in the electricity and gas markets and evaluations of policy design options.

One of my first projects was a consulting project for an Asian Energy utility which sought insights into the renewable energy expansion in Europe and the US. For this project we prepared a study on Green Certificate systems in Europe and the US which included economic analyses of regulatory frameworks, market dynamics and price developments. We identified key learnings and take-aways on the functioning and the impact of such systems from an economic perspective. We further prepared a multi-day workshop on the energy regulation of different European countries and US states, their progress towards achieving their renewable energy targets and challenges they are facing.

Do you have any suggestions for economic students and young professionals that would like to join an economic consultancy?

Economic consulting provides great opportunities to get in-depth insight into individual sectors and thus to develop your own expertise. Hence, figuring out topics and sectors you are curious about might be a good first step. Our work is particularly interesting for students and young professionals interested in microeconomics, data-based and client-focused work.

Finally, getting in touch with people and looking up publications of economic consultancies such as NERA, may be a great way to figure out whether joining an economic consulting is something for you.

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