“The fact that my friends in the program range from pure game theorists to empirical finance researchers is a testament to how well the Business Economics program is able to span the spectrum.”
Having grown up in Berkeley to an academic family, some of my earliest interactions with economists came from the behavioral economics seminars. I am as fascinated by this field now as I was then, and my intention has always been to become an academic economist. After studying mathematics at Princeton, I took a slightly different approach, and spent a few years doing research and portfolio management at Goldman Sachs. I worked on statistical arbitrage strategies, news sentiment in credit markets, and regime-switching models, and helped manage portfolios in a variety of asset classes ranging from currencies to commodities. The experience helped me gain a much better understanding and appreciation of finance, and solidified my desire to pursue a career in research.
Most of my research interests fall broadly into behavioral economics and behavioral finance. Basically, I am trying to better understand how psychological biases affect decision-making in organizations and financial markets. I have been long interested in optimal incentive design for employees subject to self-control problems. For example, teamwork might be an effective organizational form when individual employees are not fully aware of their own tendency to procrastinate. A more recent interest lies in understanding reactions to different types of stale news (news whose informational content is not novel), and especially in the distinction between duplicate news that simply reprint single previous stories and aggregate news that combine information from several sources.
Business Economics Program
After a few years doing research at Goldman Sachs, I found that my interests spanned a broad set of topics: asset pricing, corporate finance, contract design, and behavioral economics. I was loathe to choose between finance and economics, and wanted a program that would allow me to explore both. The Business Economics program at HBS offered the perfect blend. The fact that my friends in the program range from pure game theorists to empirical finance researchers is a testament to how well the Business Economics program is able to span the spectrum. The program features excellent direction in business school fields, including instruction aimed to prepare us for future teaching in a business school environment. At the same time, the ties to the economics department are very strong. The ability to work with faculty both from HBS and from the Harvard economics department is invaluable. The combination of the resources makes the Business Economics program quite literally "the best of both worlds."
I would like to pursue research in economics and finance, while teaching at a business school... and hopefully to continue having colleagues as amazingly bright and staff as fantastically supportive as here at HBS.
Advice for prospective HBS doctoral students
HBS offers amazing resources—take advantage of them! Start working on research early, and do not be afraid to discuss and present it. Faculty and students here are all incredibly smart and will be eager to hear about your work and offer valuable suggestions.