Can you tell us a little bit about your background and main interests in economics?
I am an industrial economist who specialises in competition policy. So I’m mainly an applied micro economist but to be honest I’m interested in nearly all areas of economics. I have been a Professor at UEA now for more than a quarter of a century, and during that time have seen us move up the national and international league table. It’s fair to say that we really are one of the leading Economics departments in the UK and beyond. I’m proud of that achievement.
I have tried to devote my research and teaching to subjects that are directly relevant to the real world – particularly competition economics. For most of this century I have been an adviser to the UK’s competition agencies, notably the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition and Markets Authority. I have also had a similar advisory role to the OECD in Paris, and I have worked on many projects down the years for many of the world’s top agencies: the European Commission, the World Bank and the UN. I believe that these outside roles have provided me and my students with a direct line to policy and policymakers – this is important to me and often beneficial to their career prospects.
What do you think makes studying Economics at UEA special?
I love the School here at UEA – it really is a fun place to work in; my colleagues are a great bunch who combine professionalism with friendliness and humour. To this day, even after over 40 years in academia, I still look forward to coming into work in the morning. I believe this all rubs off on to our students, who receive a top quality education in an environment which is fun – or so the surveys tell us!
How does a degree in Economics prepare you for your future career?
For me, one of the things that first attracted me to Economics was that it was/is an ideal combination of an academically challenging subject, which is also highly real world relevant. Above all, it helps to develop one’s ability to analyse problems in a well organised and transparent way, then getting the results over to other people in a clear intelligible way, and then engaging in discussion/argument, where appropriate, with other views of the problem. In my experience, there is rarely a single correct answer to any problem – it’s all about choosing the right solution given the context. This is where an Economics training really is helpful
What do you enjoy most about your job?
That’s easy – on the one hand, working with colleagues and students with lively minds who are not frightened to disagree and answer me back, and on the other hand, working on subjects which really matter to the outside world. I never wanted just to be a nerdy Professor working in an ivory tower, feeling too precious to involve myself in the outside world.
What are your interests away from academia?
My interests outside academia can be summed up by the two Fs: football and family. I’m a lifelong Arsenal fan, we have season tickets at the ground and travel down to Highbury for most games. I come from a long line of Gooners – my dad spent his early years in Avenell Rd (in the shadow of the East Stand of the much-loved old ground.) I am lucky enough to come from and now have myself biggish families; I have 3 children and 5 grandchildren – all of whom are of course Gooners as well. Having a childish sense of humour myself, I adore kids! In some ways, Economics is all about being rational; outside of my day job, I have always been attracted to what Dickens called ‘Fancy’ – playing childish games one can create a fantasy world – come to think of it, that also true about being a football fan.