College of Business > Academics > Department of Economics > Economics Alumni

Economics Alumni

Our program prepares students to work in a wide array of fields. Learn more about our alumni and how they’re using their economics degree in these interviews.

Alex Kfoury

Alexander Kfoury

BA Economics '16
Vice President | AlixPartners

Tell us about your current position.

I support clients in regulatory/legal disputes, advisory engagements and other independent research. My responsibilities include planning and implementation of data analytics, with a focus on translating quantitative models into intuitive deliverables and robust economic conclusions. I have contributed to expert testimony on matters involving financial market manipulation, international trade disputes and illegal subsidization, market power analyses in the energy infrastructure space, contract violations and other matters.

How did you become interested in economics?

I entered my undergraduate years unsure of what I wanted to study. After getting some exposure to public policy through political science courses and an internship at a political campaign, a mentor told me to consider majoring in economics to reinforce things I was learning on the job. That was great advice.

What was one aspect of DePaul that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career?

From day one at DePaul, there were opportunities for me to find internships and volunteer gigs through which I learned about myself and the world around me. I think that is a critical process for anyone starting out – you have to give numerous things a try to know your strengths and interests. As a university at the heart of an active and diverse place like Chicago, DePaul gives students opportunities that I just don’t think are available in all places.

What was your favorite course in economics?

History of Economic Thought was fantastic. Other notables for me were Money and Banking and International Monetary Economics.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?

Identify jobs you think you will enjoy as early as possible. Figure out what courses and experiences they are looking for in eventual graduates. Try to get some scripting (Stata, SAS, Python, etc.) and econometrics under your belt. I think anyone who has succeeded in the right courses, has a bit of quantitative exposure and has one or two diverse internship experiences (economics or other) should do pretty well after graduation.

Ahmed

Saira Ahmed

BSB Economics Honors ’18
Financial Transformation Consultant | KPMG

Tell us about your job as a financial transformation consultant.

I consult on large-scale financial transformation efforts that focus on delivering operational, technical and/or product development change, such as system and operational conversions, enhancements, process re-engineering, and new product development, with an emphasis in banking and capital markets.

How did you become interested in economics?

During my senior year of high school, I read two books on a recommendation from my history teacher: "Naked Economics" and "Freakonomics." Before this point, I had a very little knowledge of what economics was, but after reading these books, I was blown away by how all-encompassing and impactful economics was not only in a government and business context, but socially as well. I couldn’t get enough, and I went on to pursue a degree in economics to expand my knowledge of how the discipline plays a role in different contexts.

What was one aspect of DePaul that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career?

DePaul’s huge alumni network is something that I tapped into early and helped me throughout my time in school. Seeing what kinds of career paths various economics alumni followed opened my eyes to all the options at my disposal. Getting to know alumni taught me that having an economics degree doesn’t limit the type of work you can do, and can actually open up opportunities in traditionally unconventional fields. It also helped me get a jump start on networking which became hugely important when I started looking for a full-time position.

What was your favorite course in economics?

Behavioral Economics (ECO 341).

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?

Don’t feel discouraged to pursue opportunities in finance or banking – they’re not just for finance and accounting majors. Many economics majors feel pushed toward policy or academia, but the skills you learn in your economics courses will give you a unique perspective on business issues in these fields that will set you apart in these roles.

Attolini

Peter Azcue Attolini

BA Economics ’04
Partner | Fusion Capital Partners

Tell us about your current position.

I co-manage the daily operations of the fund and raise capital from high net worth and ultra-high net worth investors.

How did you become interested in economics?

I was always interested in why some countries are wealthy and others were poor.

What was one aspect of DePaul that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career?

The macroeconomic classes with Professor John Berdell were the most memorable, and his accessibility during office hours were always insightful. He always made you feel right at home. He still does!

What was your favorite course in economics?

Game Theory (ECO 379).

Do you have any additional degrees?

An MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?

Economics and finance are hard because as Herbert Simon pointed out, we are all constrained by “bounded rationality.” We are not aware of what we do not know and there is high chance that we never will be, and there is no reason to believe that we have perfect information or anything close to it. We are far more likely to be wrong than to be right. A lack of humility will kill you in this business.

Rowley

Katelyn Rowley

MS Economics & Policy Analysis ’15
Senior Applied Data Scientist | Civis Analytics

What was your first position after graduating?

I was an analyst at Compass Lexecon, one of the world’s leading economic consulting firms. Compass Lexecon provides analysis on a broad spectrum of matters to law firms, corporations and government clients. As an analyst, my duties were varied and included quantitative and qualitative analyses, gathering and organizing data, analyzing data through either excel or a statistical program (SAS or STATA), providing industry research, and reviewing analyst reports and business documents.

How did you become interested in economics?

Introduction to Economics was the first class I took in economics as an undergrad. This class was one of the most interesting classes I had taken. I was captivated by the subject, so I decided to take a few more classes, and after another semester I decided to switch my major to economics.

What was one aspect of DePaul that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career?

The fundamentals I learned in Research Methods I and II were instrumental in helping me excel in my career. The data analysis and programing skills in STATA allowed me to catch on quickly at Compass Lexecon. Additionally, the background in programing at DePaul helped me learn other statistical languages quickly. Without these two courses, I don’t believe I would be exceling as an analyst at Compass Lexecon.

Why did you choose DePaul University and the MS in Economics and Policy Analysis?

I wanted to find a program that put an emphasis on the application of economics in the real world, but I didn’t know what types of careers were available. This program caught my attention because its focus is to apply economics to policy issues.  

What was your favorite course in economics?

Economics of the Public Sector. This course combines all of the objectives of the MS in Economics and Policy Analysis program. Throughout this class you combine microeconomic concepts with theoretical models to look at real-world applications. The culmination of this course was to write an empirical research paper. I think this is an extremely important and valuable aspect of this class and the program as a whole.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?

There are many more ways to apply economic analysis to your career than you think. Figure out what aspect of economics you enjoy and most likely there will be a job that combines that passion with economic analysis. As students, we sometimes get caught up in just finding a job, but it’s important to take the time to find a job that excites you.

Andy Polacek

Andy Polacek

MS Economics & Policy Analysis ’11
BA Economics & International Studies
Senior Economic Research Analyst | Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

How did you become interested in economics?

I took Introductory Microeconomics and then Intermediate Microeconomics the following quarter with Gabriella Bucci and became interested in the ability of economics to model complex systems. From then on I was hooked.

What was one aspect of DePaul that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career? 

The fundamental approach to data analysis I learned in the econometrics sequence is something I use every day. I constantly work with large datasets and the skills I lerned helped me to manage and analyze them.

What was your favorite course in economics?

Advanced Microeconomics.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?

Take as many math and programming courses as you can. The ability to efficiently perform quantitative analysis is a valuable skill in the working world.

Lola

Lola Boldbaatar

BSB Economics, with a minor in Finance ’12
Key Account Manager Americas | DSV - Global Transport & Logistics

How did you become interested in economics?

I've always been highly analytical which made me quite drawn to the questioning and reasoning trait of economics.

What was one aspect of DePaul that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career? 

Campus involvement at DePaul was very important to starting my career. There are so many different organizations, including the Economics Club, that really helped me navigate my future.

What was your favorite course in economics?

Econometrics.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?

Be mindful that change is constant so keep an open mind and be patient when planning your careers – the opportunities will come.

Katarina

Katarina Milinkovic

MS Economics & Policy Analysis ’13
Director of Operations & Relationship Management | RCM Wealth Advisors

What do you do in your current position?

I provide client support and coordinate activities related to sales and servicing clients’ accounts and act as one of the main points of contact for RCM clients. I creates efficient and comprehensive strategies designed to manage risk, sales process, client onboarding and servicing, investment selection and reporting. 

How did you become interested in economics?

While majoring in finance at DePaul, I realized that functionality of the financial markets, as well as their performance, strongly depend on the economic outlook and public policy. Learning the theories of economics and conditions for implementation of public policies, I believed that such knowledge can contribute to accuracy of financial analysis which was the career path I decided to take on.

What was one aspect of DePaul that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career?

Learning about the influence risk management has on the financial world and therefore economic, definitely enhanced my curiosity to analyze such topics in depth. Several classes which required technical and analytical skills pointed out the direction of my interest toward a post-graduate career. Having an internship at a financial firm gave me direct exposure to the market where I was able to apply my knowledge gained at DePaul, as well as learn directly from the work experience.

What was your favorite course in economics?

Economics, Public Policy, Business and Ethical Environment of Government.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?

I believe that being successful in the world of economics definitely requires being up to date with current events, nationally and globally. Use the real-world examples to apply your knowledge gained in school. Try to complete an internship or two; on the job you really get to know where your true interests and abilities are.

Tim

Tim Fox

MS Economics & Policy Analysis ’14
Senior Analytics Consultant | West Monroe Partners

What do you do in your current position?

As a consultant in business intelligence and predictive analytics, I use technical and critical thinking skills to synthesize data into insights so that businesses can make actionable and timely decisions from their data. For business intelligence projects I help businesses identify and understand their data sources as well as devise ways for them to leverage these sources. For predictive analytics projects, I use statistics, econometrics and machine learning algorithms to transform businesses' data into meaningful measures of future performance.

How did you become interested in economics?

I have always been interested in understanding behavior and quantitatively analyzing systems. I began my undergraduate career in engineering, but realized my true calling after taking intermediate microeconomics and statistics for economics and business in undergrad.

What was one aspect of DePaul that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career?

The MSEPA program allowed me to delve further into economic theory and how it applies to the understanding of societal and business interactions. Also, the program was rather flexible and the time allotted for electives permitted me to take additional courses in mathematics and statistics. These courses in conjunction with econometrics and advanced microeconomics gave me a solid foundation to become a data-driven professional.

What was your favorite course in economics?

Advanced Microeconomics was my favorite course because it was my foundation for understanding economic reasoning and it provided me the perfect context to understand and apply the quantitative topics that I was interested in.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?

Make sure to get plenty of exposure to quantitative topics. DePaul offers great coursework that will complement economics beautifully such as statistics, mathematics and computer science. As society becomes more data-driven, it will become even more important to not only think critically, but to also support critical thinking with sound quantitative reasoning.

Jessica

Jessica Fulton

MS Economics & Policy Analysis ’11
Vice President | Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

How did you become interested in economics?

I became interested in economics after being displaced from Dillard University in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina when I realized the impact that poverty can have on people's lives. I realized that it was important to study the impact that economics and economic policy can have on the lives of low and middle income people across the country.

What was one aspect of DePaul that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career?

I really appreciated the trip we took as a class to Washington, D.C. under Professor Kallen. It helped nudge me in the direction of taking a leap of faith and moving to Washington, D.C. to pursue a career in policy.

What was your favorite course in economics?

I don't think I have a favorite course, but my favorite courses were ones that allowed me to apply economic theory to real-world problems like poverty.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?

Try to get as much experience as you can in as many areas as you can. Do research. Get published. Read a lot. I think economics is an exciting field and you have many opportunities to learn more and more!

Matthew Frankland

Matthew Frankland

MS Economics & Policy Analysis ’11
BA Economics ’08
Rentals Associate Planner | REI

How did you become interested in economics?

I was a sophomore that came into DePaul's College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences as a psychology major simply because I didn't want to be undeclared. I didn't know what I wanted to study or what I wanted to do after college. I took some political science, math and sociology courses, and I stumbled into micro and macro economics spring quarter thinking business courses could help me find a job after college. I was instantly hooked. Economics combined everything I enjoyed in a science, quantitative rigor, objective analysis, real-world implications, and just the right amount of questions, concerns, wild ravings and vicious attacks.

What was one aspect of DePaul that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career?

DePaul has many wonderful resources to help you find the career that's right for you. What helped me the most was DePaul's network of alumni and current students. I was lucky enough to meet many undergrads and graduate students as the economics department tutor, and one MBA student thought I had the right skill set to be an analyst at Walgreens. In my job-hunting experience I've found that the best way to get a job is to meet people who work for the company you want to be at. You can find them through your own network and on Linkedin, and take them out to lunch and discover if that company is right for you. Having a cheerleader on the inside will really help your chances of being called in for an interview.

What was your favorite course in economics?

I'm a micro guy, and I'll always love principles of microeconomics. I think the takeaways in Principles can apply to almost any decision you have to make in life. Learning to be a good decision maker is what microeconomics is all about, and there's so much insight that exists underneath the surface of the choices we make every day.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?

Many people divide econ grads into three buckets: academics, government and professional. All three have their pros and cons, but all three are in high demand of graduates with excellent quantitative reasoning skills and experience working with big data. Also, a good perk of being an data analyst is it's the 21st century's sexiest job!

Jana Fikri

Jana Fikri

BA Economics & International Studies ’09
Director, Head of Short Term Pricing Excellence | A.P. Moller -Maersk

How did you become interested in economics?

I initially majored in only international studies and had to take intro to macro and micro courses as part of the curriculum. This turned out to be very good because I found my true academic passion in economics, especially macroeconomics. Economics is exciting because it explains literally everything going on in the world around us, and getting a deep understanding of that was truly fascinating for me and something I felt could lead to an enriching career.

What was one aspect of DePaul that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career?

The study abroad program in Leuven, Belgium which included an internship at the European Parliament was a fantastic growth experience personally and professionally. It was the first time I was really able to see what I have earned in action and being discussed for policy.

What was your favorite course in economics?

International trade and international economics.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?

Consider combining the major with another topic too, whether international studies, finance, math, anything really. Economics is great and that was my preferred subject within my two majors, but the combination leads to a more nuanced understanding and application of economic theories, which are sometimes a little black and white.
Nicole Kaeding

Nicole Kaeding

MS Economics & Policy Analysis ’11
Senior Manager, Public Policy | Amazon


How did you become interested in economics? 

I always enjoyed my economics courses in undergraduate, but didn’t give much thought to it as a career. When I graduated with an undergraduate degree, I pursued a career in financial services as a financial advisor and then a bank manager. After several years, I realized that it was not a career for me and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do longterm. At the same time, I started reading more and discovered the works of Milton Friedman. I realized that I could combine my interest in politics and policy with my interests in economics to make a new career. I found the program at DePaul in Economics and Policy Analysis and knew it’d be a great fit. Since graduation, I’ve done just that. I now live and work in Washington, D.C. as an economic policy analyst focused on federal spending and tax policy.

What was one aspect of DePaul that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career?

One of the most important things that I learned at DePaul was how to debate economic policy. Professors at DePaul challenged us to blend the theory we were learning with current events and the current economic landscape. Many of my colleagues also have graduate degrees in economics, but few have the policy analysis skills that I learned at DePaul.

What was your favorite course in economics?

Public Economics II—I use what I learned in that class every day in my job.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?

Studying is absolutely important, but networking is equally as important. I recently changed jobs and I secured the job from networking.