Career advice, blog posts
Career advice, blog posts
Vladimir Hlasny is an associate professor of Economics at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. We chose him as the winner of our Conference Grant Contest 2016 and awarded him with a €500 grant. The prize helped him to attend the Joint NIDI-RUG Workshop on Socioeconomics Differences and Health Later in Life organized by the Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Groningen. Over 670 participants took part in the contest by submitting short answers related to their own academic career growth. You can see Vladimir's winning answer here.
We asked Vladimir about his impressions from the conference and his academic experience. We share his thoughts below.
Why did you choose this workshop among others?
Because it promised to be a high-quality, intensive (two-day) workshop on a narrow theme (health later in life), during which all participants would attend all sessions and give good constructive feedback.
How did you spend time in Groningen and how is your overall impression from the workshop?
I ended up spending four days in Groningen, sightseeing and enjoying local cuisine. The workshop was what it had promised to be. There was a lot of high-quality interaction. Many participants used similar analytical methods and datasources (European survey of the elderly; one participant using similar Chinese data, myself using Korean data), and several distinguished researchers were in attendance, so the debate was advanced and technical.
Which other international conferences or workshops have you attended and how were they useful for your career?
I have attended a number of conferences of various formats, from large congresses such as the ASSA meetings, through technical workshops such as this, to conferences of regional associations covering all fields of Economics. Not all conferences are useful, and probably it is the less renowned, more get-down-to-work workshops that have been the most valuable, facilitating useful networking and feedback on presentations, and publicizing presented papers to relevant research communities through dedicated websites.
What is the importance of networking for you and what do you do to extend your network?
I have benefited from networking in a number of ways, probably including ways that I am not even aware of. I was offered a consultancy engagement, and an opportunity to write a technical paper for an international organization, and I was invited to apply for a job which I ended up getting hired for. I have also been able to collaborate with several high-quality researchers who had a great positive impact on the outcomes of our research. Finally, of course, networking – and participation in conferences – facilitates dissemination of my research, leading to recognition of my research in the relevant research communities and to literature citations.
Tell us more about your position. What is your main area of research? What has been your greatest research accomplishment so far?
I am an associate professor of Economics at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. I am an empirical microeconomist, doing research on various topics, typically with firm or individual-level microdata. Since graduate school I have floated around from studying regulation in the energy sector using data on gas distribution companies or electric plants, to studying environmental externalities of international trade, to measuring labor-market discrimination and inequality of economic outcomes. This last area – measurement of economic inequalities – is presently in vogue, and my research (joint with coauthors) has contributed to policy debate.
Why did you decide to develop your career in Academia? Do you enjoy teaching or research more, or maybe both?
I started my career in the consulting sector, working for a litigation support consultancy in the area of labor discrimination. I missed doing independent research, and I wanted to give teaching a try, and so I went on the academic job market. The job I found has been my job for the past ten years. I should add that I did enjoy the statistical analyses I did for labor-discrimination litigation support, and so I am glad that I have recently turned to studying labor issues and distribution of incomes.
I enjoy doing independent research a great deal. Writing papers, publishing in journals, and applying for grants and to conferences is challenging, but it fills one with joy when the effort is successful. I also enjoy advising students and teaching – if only I could outsource grading.
Which channels, tools or websites do you use as a researcher that you would recommend to the others?
I post all my working papers on SSRN, which is indexed by internet search engines.
Which factors did you take into account when choosing to pursue your career abroad at the Economics Ewha Womans University in Seoul?
I come from Europe, and I had studied in the US for ten years. Out of a desire to change something in my life, and to travel, I went on the Korean job market, and was lucky to be accepted at this prestigious university in the heart of Seoul.
How do you see your future academic career? Which positions are you aiming at and where would you like to work?
I try not to think too much about my future career, and instead try to focus on research and on encouraging students to become independent researchers themselves. New projects and new research topics pop up without a warning, and I try to be open to new opportunities, without limiting myself by conventions in academia. Just like research universities, research institutes and government organizations can offer the necessary climate in which researchers can work on topics that are exciting to them and can realize their full creative potential. Nowadays even for-profit employers offer sabbatical leaves! So, for my future career, I just see myself balancing my family’s needs of decent living conditions and ample family time, and my desire of adequate support by my employer for my creative work.
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