When I came to the European Institute, I was full of expectations and wonder. Learning from and even debating with some of the big names in the world of Political Economy was going to be an incredible experience. Add to that the immense amount of LSE public lectures with hundreds of academics, politicians, and societal leaders attending each year, and you will get a glimpse of the excitement my ambitious 20-year-old self experienced.
Staff and teachers at the EI always delivered – and often even surpassed – the academic excellence I expected from an institution as renowned as the LSE. Theoretically profound, but also very hands-on, and never afraid to make mistakes. This doer mentality complemented my very rigorous and analytical undergraduate education in Economics at the University of Zurich.
In my first professional role after graduation, as an economic adviser at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), I consulted the services trade negotiations team and ministers on the complicated nature of EU Exit and future free trade agreements. Unpacking queries by taking a step back in the analysis, asking the right questions to uncover the puzzle, disentangling problems from constraints – all skills I gained in my MSc that were essential in the chaotic world of Brexit.
However, the things I didn’t expect – as so often in life – were the ones that really made my time at the EI outstanding. The value the department put on discourse among students as well as with our lecturers was almost shocking. I still remember vividly when we were told early on that our teachers had as much to learn from us as we from them. This spirit had an enormous impact on the collaboration in the cohort, and ultimately, on our academic and personal development. Evaluating and debating our – often varying – opinions fostered our understanding of the concept of lifelong learning and established bonds between the students – leading to equally long friendships.
Earlier this year, this comradery has even led me to establish a company with Bob Hancké – one of my former teachers and, may I say, friends at the EI. PEACS, our new consulting and training company in Applied Political Economy delivers cutting-edge thinking in seminars and strategic consulting on a broad range of topics.
The basic PEACS philosophy – very much in line with the spirit of the EI – is to help you explore and develop your potential. In most cases, your organisation has the capacity to solve your problems in-house, but may find it difficult to deploy the tools necessary for that as you lack exclusive methodological approaches and substantive background knowledge. Hence, rather than offering one-time standardised solutions, our tailored approach sustainably mobilises your own toolbox by showing you how to disentangle complicated questions and highlight previously underemphasised dimensions.
We also intend to combine our paid customised consulting and high-end training activities with a wide array of pro bono activities, including blog posts, public interest reports, public seminars, debates and lectures. Visit our website or follow us on LinkedIn to get a flavour of what the outstanding collaborative academic approach at the EI can lead to.