Johnathan McMenamin is a macroeconomist at Ernst & Young and works on exciting projects that help monitor, analyse, and communicate about the Australian economy, its labour market and government policy.
Johnathan and his team help shape the economic narrative for EY, which is used to inform clients, colleagues as well as external stakeholders such as the media.
In addition, he works with EY’s national economic modelling team. It’s very exciting for Johnathan to work on a variety of government and non-government projects.
Starting his career in economics, at first, Johnathan wasn’t sure about the prospects of this field. “I was nervous for a long time if there was a role in economics. I felt pressure to be a banker or an accountant. I’m glad I followed my instincts,” he says.
“I was always interested in how the world worked, economics provided me with a really neat framework for analysing people’s decision making and understanding how society allocates scarce resources.”
For Johnathan, STEM was the way to unlock the insights that economics offered.
Johnathan’s career highlight during COVID
At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, when the virus was just getting started in Australia and the level of uncertainty and confusion was at unimaginable levels, Johnathan worked on projects at the NSW Treasury in the economic forecasting area.
“We were all unsure how the following months would unfold, but it was our job to provide the state government with some guidance – so they could make important policy decisions and understand the magnitude of the revenue impact on the Budget,” he says.
While this was a really chaotic time, filled with late nights and some busy weekends, it turned out to be highly rewarding for Johnathan and his team.
“We were stretching our economic models as far as we could, applying new data sources and techniques to forecasting and became far more collaborative in our approach to forecasting,” he says.
The COVID-19 crisis transformed the way economists work.
“While challenging, it may have been one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to be at the centre of all the action. Overall, we were able to make a real difference to the government’s response to COVID-19 by providing them with the information they needed during a highly uncertain time,” says Johnathan.
Economics trending again
After dropping off the ‘cool’ list for a few years, economics is trending again.
“People are interested to hear what economists think about the economy and where we’re all going. I think this renewed interest in the profession will bring economic thinking back to the forefront of discussions,” says Johnathan.
“I fell in love with economics during the Global Financial Crisis. I suspect the same will happen for thousands more as a result of the current global pandemic,” he says.
Outside of economics
Alongside economics, Johnathan pursues his passion, which is brewing beer.
“I have been brewing beer for seven years now and have been able to brew a consistent set of beer that complete with anything in the bottle shops.”
“It’s important to have something outside of work that you can be proud of that equally gives you a focus to switch off from your day-to-day work,” Johnathan says.
Johnathan’s advice to young people
“Talk to people that work in the field you are interested in.”
“It has been my experience that most people are passionate about their work and would love to talk to you about what they do.”
“This is a really useful first step to confirming your own interest in the field and can motivate you to work harder and set your goals of what you want to achieve,” he says.
Qualification and career pathway
- Bachelor of Economics, majoring in Economics and Finance, UNSW
- Masters in Financial Analysis, UNSW
- Principal Economist at NSW Treasury
- Senior Economist at EY
READ MORE: Catch Careers with STEM’s Economics special edition and more great mags on STEM careers.
Author: Dr Astha Singh
Astha is the Managing Editor at Refraction Media. She is a STEM Marketer and holds a Honors, Masters & PhD degree in Science. She has been producing STEM marketing content for over 10 years and is an avid advocate of Diversity in the STEM industry.