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Alumni edition!

It is always wonderful to hear about the fortunes of our recent graduates on the job market. In this 9th quarterly newsletter, we talk to five recent alumni about their career experiences so far.

Stephan Reid

It was a Monday morning somewhere in the autumn of 2009 when I discovered the place I wanted to be more than any other. This was some months after the end of the world and my subsequent disillusionment with economic ideologues and their bickering while streets bled outside.

Leland Stanford Junior University it was to be, because that’s where the textbook was written, the one on my desk at the time. I was excited and vaguely afraid, because I finally knew what I wanted to do next. I had found the big pond in which to be a small, but plucky, and ambitious fish. The stellar education I received in the east-by-southeastern section of Stellenbosch’s campus was to help me swim and thrive. That, and my South African accent. I think perhaps that it has. The oaky petrichor of the season’s first rains on Victoria Road still lingers nostalgically in my mind’s nose (as it were), and has periodically brought me to that time, sustaining me during the more difficult, drought ridden days in California.

I arrived here in September 2011 and began my 5-year PhD statistics course. It has been challenging. More than half the days are more trying than one would hope. But I am still here. Periodic checks even suggest that there is still nowhere else I’d rather be. Stanford is an imposing place; its faculty list equally so; its students, bright and motivated. Luckily, people fall over themselves to bring their data to the feet of the doyens of the Stats department. The doyens share their data with us. So one keeps busy, working hard to produce the results that maintain the aura. Then it is on to the next feat.

Now, as my time here winds down, I find that new ponds have to be identified. The next few years will probably hold the same wonder and low-grade terror as have the last few. As ever though, I’ll remember the rains, sun and sleepy mountains of home and I’m sure the memories will help me carry it through.

Greetings from this frenetic place on the far side of the world.
Stephen Reid (BComm (Hons) Economics and Statistics 2009)
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Calumet Links

I completed my Economics studies in January 2011, filled with the idealistic zest for work any new university graduate would have. So, in March 2011, I took a job with the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture in Kimberley, as the Assistant Manager: Supply Chain Management.

I believed that the convenient distant criticism towards government many youths today make was insufficient for me and took the position believing I could make a difference. Working for the Northern Cape government was challenging, but it taught me skills that have proved invaluable in my professional and personal life. I also had the privilege of receiving tutelage from great colleagues during my tenure at the Department and realised that my relentless drive to stave off mediocrity was my greatest asset. The only negative about my time working for government was that I felt my training, as an economist, was going to waste.

Subsequently, I made the tough decision to move to Paarl and take up employment at NKC Independent economists at the start of 2015. Not only has this move been tremendously rewarding, but one realises the stellar education received from the SU has been great preparation for the working world.

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Jolandi Uys

I graduated from the University of Stellenbosch with a Master’s Degree in Economics in March 2011. During my final year of studies I spent a semester abroad and upon return to South Africa had no idea what I wanted to become or to do with the rest of my life.

For a brief period I moved back in with my parents and found myself in the midst of a quarter-life crisis. Browsing the internet in search of some answers I stumbled upon a job advertisement posted by Bloomberg L.P., the leading provider of news data and analytics. The position of Renewable Energy Data Analyst was the first job I interviewed for and I have happily been with Bloomberg for nearly 4 years now. My studies, specifically environmental economics, definitely helped me to land the job.

I have since moved into the role of Business Analyst, focusing on the more technical aspects of database management and workflow improvement. My background might not seem relevant for my current position, but I feel that economics teaches one about how the world works and provides a solid foundation for a successful career path in a variety of fields.
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Lizelle van der Merwe

I completed my honours in Economics at the University of Stellenbosch in 2009 after obtaining my undergraduate degree in BComm with Economics and Statistics as main subjects. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed my degree, I decided that being an Economist was not part of my immediate plan and therefore I opted to start my career rather than to pursue my Masters degree. In 2010 I started on the Graduate Development Programme at Standard Bank’s Corporate and Investment Bank (“CIB”) in Johannesburg where I spent a year rotating through the departments of CIB learning as much as possible about the bank. During the year I also had the opportunity to discover what I feel passionate about within the bank. This resulted in me being placed in the Mining, Energy and Infrastructure Finance team, mainly due to my passion for developmental aspects driven by the Developmental Economics modules I completed as part of my honours degree. 
I have since been involved in various aspect of financing projects in mining, railway and power across Africa. Travelling and working across the continent has further developed my love for the continent and for its development. I hope to continue doing my part by originating, advising and financing projects that move the development of Africa forward.

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Nkoanyane Sebutsoe

I enrolled for a Master of Commerce degree in Economics from the University of Stellenbosch from 2008 – 2009. Following my graduation, I worked as a part time lecturer at the National University of Lesotho teaching Development Economics and Monetary Economics. Being a fresh Matie I was well-equipped with all the requisite knowledge to undertake this mammoth task.

In March 2010 I joined the Central Bank of Lesotho working as a Capital Market Specialist in the Capital Market Development division of the Financial Markets Department. One of my main tasks was to undertake research and oversee the development and the issuance of the maiden government bonds in Lesotho.  Due to the passion for development I observed in my Development Economics lecturer Professor Servaas Van Der Berg, I decided to venture into development work and joined the African Development Bank (AfDB) in November 2011 through its Young Professionals Programme. This program requires one to do yearly rotations within various Bank departments. Having had a stint in capital markets, the Capital Market and Financial Operations Division became my first stop.  My duties entailed doing research and assisting team members with the mobilization of financial resources for the Bank from international financial markets.

Currently I am working as a Senior Economist in the Policy Management Division of the African Development Institute which is the capacity building arm of the Bank. Our main task is to provide capacity building on a range of issues to our regional member countries.

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