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Case Study: Mattias Bjornfors

Personal details
Degree:Financial Economics Profile picture
School(s): School of Economics and Finance
Year of Graduation:May-2005
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Gatwick Airport Limited
Job title: Economic Regulation Manager
Occupational Sector: Economic Consulting
What has been your route to getting your current position?
After graduating I started work in the Government Economic Service. After a year working on offshore energy economics for DTI I joined Ofgem, the energy regulator - which was the start of my proper energy career. I stayed there for 3.5 years. After that I did short stints as a regulatory consultant and then a strategy role at EDF energy before joining the regulatory team at Gatwick Airport. Much of the regulatory experience in energy translates well into both aviation and also other regulated sectors such as water utilities, telecoms and broadband and payment systems.
What does your job involve ?
Under UK law airports found to have "substantial market power" needs to be economically regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority. This means the regulator determines at regular intervals how much the airport is allowed to charge its airline customers. The role at Gatwick involves leading this engagement with the regulator and managing the ongoing relationship.
What are the best bits of your job ?
I joined Gatwick at an exiting time around 2 years after the breakup of BAA, and straight before the start of a major regulatory review. I like the job as the the type of work is very varied (if sometimes quite reactive), and the principles of both industrial organisation economic and financial economics are highly applicable. It also involves taking responsibility and driving important policy areas internally and engaging effectively with people at all levels of the organisation.
Why were you successful?
My career has drifted down a route focused on economic regulation, competition policy and modelling, and evolved. Some areas like regulation are relatively contained groups spanning the regulatory bodies, some academics, the regulated companies and consultancies. It is very important to keep up a broad awareness of the world around you outside your own field to enable you to engage effectively with people who have followed slightly different career paths from yourself.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
I have found the financial economics modules very helpful, as well as the concepts from microeconomics (but the arithmetics tends to be too theoretical to have any practical application and is impossible to communicate beyond a narrow body of economists).  Perhaps the most critical aspect to ensure you leave your degree with is numeracy - you need to be able to understand data, analyse it and prepare it. Insufficient numeracy is probably the most common reason I have seen for economists not being successful in their field. Econometrics is a practical and saleable skill which believe it or not also makes you much more useful as a consultant (and in some organisations).
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
Careers can seldom be planned out in detail and these days it is important to make the best of the situation you are presented with. It is also important not to get too bogged down in your first job - it is important to get stuck in and develop. However, I have found it has been quite helpful to ensure that you swap jobs around every 2 years for the first 5-6 years of your career to make sure you get a rounded experience. It also helps to keep in touch with recruitment agents and to do the occasional interview to stay in practice. I also found a stint as a consultant to be very effective to help learn time management and budgeting.