Alum of the Month - August 2019

Stefano Piano

'My LSE experience reflected this ambition to better understand real-world issues, rather than engaging in theoretical speculations'.
Stefano Piano


  • Programme studied: MSc Economics and Management
  • Year of Graduation: 2015
  • LinkedIn profile

Alum of the Month for August is Stefano. He has been working for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on some of the most fascinating problems facing our economies and societies.

What’s your current job?

I work for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD provides policy analysis and advice across several policy areas, ranging from tax to environmental policy. I work as a Policy Analyst for the National Skills Strategies team. In my role, I help countries develop a coherent set of policies to improve the development, use and governance of skills. The range of issues we deal with in the team is quite broad: strengthening the linkages between universities and the labour market, improving active labour market policies, stimulating the adoption of better work and management practices across firms. We do our best to ensure that we provide tailored advice that will allow the countries we work with to address the most important challenges they face. 

How does the work you do have a positive impact in society?

Innovation and skills have become the two key drivers of economic prosperity in OECD economies. Ensuring that people develop the right skills and use them effectively in the workplace is crucial to enable them to have well-paid and rewarding jobs. This can also sustain their overall well-being: a job is not only a medium to earn a living, but often contributes to giving people a sense of purpose and identity. My work empowers policymakers to design and deliver better skills policies, so it plays an important role in allowing people to work better jobs and lead better lives.

Where have you worked previously?

I have tried different things over the years – I wanted to ensure that I would embark on the right track. I interned at Perella Weinberg Partners, a boutique investment bank, and in the Economics and Strategy team at Goldman Sachs. At Goldman Sachs, I co-authored a publication with Huw Pill, former Director of the European Central Bank, on the impact of political uncertainty on the economy of the Eurozone. I then worked for Frontier Economics, one of Europe’s leading microeconomic consultancies, for just over three years. Frontier is a diverse company, producing economic analysis on a wide range of issues, from the impact large-scale mergers have on consumers, to value for money assessments for museums. I had the opportunity to work on very high profile projects, such as assessing the performance of the Catapult Centres for innovation in the UK and helping government agencies in the implementation of the reforms for vocational education, stemming from the Sainsbury Review.

 How has the programme you studied helped your career since graduation?

It is no coincidence that LSE’s motto is “Rerum Cognoscere Causas” or “To know the causes of things”. My LSE experience reflected this ambition to better understand real-world issues, rather than engaging in theoretical speculations. The programme gave me solid intellectual skills to improve my understanding of economic problems; but this learning did not happen in vacuum, it was supported by the attitude of LSE staff and the atmosphere on campus. Individuals like Professor Sutton and Professor Estrin have spent years supporting governments and companies in thinking how to gain from globalisation and technological change. They impersonate and showcase this pragmatic but academically rigorous “LSE way”. And they do so with an extraordinary amount of energy and enthusiasm.

Tell us a bit more about your role as a Blogger for HuffPost:

This was as unexpected as exciting. I was in Cuba on vacation, wandering around the streets of Habana Vieja, when I discovered from a local newspaper that Fidel Castro had died. The holiday turned pretty much into a political reportage: we visited the key sites of the Cuban Revolution, in an effort to understand the reactions and inclinations of the Cuban people. The Huffington Post agreed to publish our reflections in a blog-post and that was the start of a longer collaboration.

What motivates you?

For me, it’s really about three things: feeling intellectually engaged, getting involved in the great challenges and debates shaping our time, and being surrounded by inspiring people. And not just bright people, but people with vision and enthusiasm to contribute to some of the key dilemmas facing our economies and societies, such as: how can we make the best of technological change? How do we make sure that globalisation works for everyone? How do we react to population ageing and demographic change?

What one piece of advice would you give to a recent graduate?

Before turning to economics, I had a humanistic upbringing: plenty of Latin, Greek and ancient philosophy. Mostly unhelpful for my (current) career, but it made me discover a key piece of advice, the classic “Know yourself”: understand your virtues and vices (or strengths and weaknesses in modern terms), understand what makes you feel uncomfortable, and perhaps most importantly the answer to that previous question, “what motivates you”? The “answers” may change at different points in our lives, but having a good awareness of these questions is essential for being happy and for choosing (and changing and shaping) a rewarding career.