On the Job Market

by Mike Kimel

On the Job Market

Recently, my employer went through a merger. As part of the process, my position disappeared. I turned down a different position that was offered, the result being that at the end of the month I will no longer be with my current employer. Yes, I am aware of how bad the job market is, and yes, I learned a lot at and enjoyed my job, but without getting into a lot of inside baseball, it was time to go. In fact, it has been time to go for a while. Sometimes it takes something like this to tell you something you already know. So, yes, I have butterflies in my stomach (I’ve never been on the job market with this many mouths to feed), but I’m also looking forward to what comes next.

So… time to assess the situation. Here’s what I got.

Step 1. Financial assessment. Job loss means a financial hit, but we can hang in there provided unemployment doesn’t last too long.

Step 2. Education / Work history. I am a trained economist (Ph.D. in economics from UCLA, two master’s degrees, and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics / economics). I have fifteen years of experience since leaving graduate school, having worked for a Big 4 (at the time, Big 6) accounting firm, two Fortune 500 companies, and for my own consulting practice. While a consultant, I also taught economics and advanced statistics in the MBA program at Pepperdine University for five years. Some of the work experience is international. Industries I’ve done work for include telecom, utilities, investment banks, brokerages, consumer goods, software, hardware, aerospace and military.

Step 3. Work categories / skills. Most of my work falls into a few different categories:

a) Statistical / econometric analysis, including designing some fairly sophisticated algorithms. I’ve built models for macroeconomic analysis, demand forecasting, costing, capital allocation, equity valuation, commodity valuation, marketing research, and hedging. Over the years I’ve used the most common statistical and pseudo-statistical packages, like SAS, SPSS, EViews and VBA.

b) Regulatory work in utilities, both as an employee and as a consultant. Some of that work was for foreign companies, and some of that was performed abroad.

c) Strategy work. I think the most fun I ever had was developing and leading implementation of strategies for dealing with new competitors while a manager at a Fortune 500 company. I’ve also had the opportunity to do some strategy work in other capacities, including as a consultant, and some of that has been abroad as well. Strategy is always a lot of fun.

d) Management. My work experience includes a few years as a corporate manager, running groups like economic policy & analysis, strategic marketing, and competitive strategies. I’m good at motivating people, and I enjoy mentoring junior staff… which explains what I enjoyed teaching as well.

e) Language skills. Though born in the US, I grew up in South America, and am fluent in Portuguese and Spanish. I’m a bit rusty from lack of recent use, but nothing that two weeks in Rio, Buenos Aires or Montevideo wouldn’t fix.

f) Writing. I do write frequently on economic and business issues, and co-authored a book. I like to think I have learned to explain reasonably complex concepts, including the results of statistical analyses, to lay audiences.

Step 4. Deciding what type of job to target. I’ve been very lucky in life, and I can safely say I have enjoyed almost every day in my last fourteen years of work. (And yes, I have fifteen years of work experience.)

Looking back, I’ve tended to really like oddball problems and a fair amount of autonomy. Give me the project that is already two months late, that nobody knows how to do, and from which everyone is backing away. The fun problems are the ones that make you sweat. Consulting jobs often provide a lot of interesting problems, a lot of autonomy, and a minimum of formality.

On the other hand, I have had a few jobs in the corporate world where I had the freedom to poke my nose into a lot of different tents, and in such cases it can be very easy to get involved in cool projects. All you need is a willingness to follow your nose in the direction of bad news. In the corporate world, nobody wants to be involved with bad news. But fixing the issues that created the bad news is often the most interesting work in the company.

I’ve never worked in a “Wall Street” type job, but I’ve done a fair amount of work that is probably interchangeable: hedging models, forecasting prices and demand for equities and commodities, and of course, designing statistical algorithms.

Step 5. Preparing a resume, and lining up references. Available upon request.

Step 6. Tap your network. That’s the purpose of this post. Anyone looking for someone with my skills and background? Know of anyone who is? Know of someone I should contact? Know someplace I should look? I’d be grateful for any pointers or assistance.

Minor correction. For legibility, contact info shown below rather than within the post.

Should you want to reach me, my e-mail address is my first name (mike), my last name (kimel – with one m only), and I’m at gmail.com.”