When Ruchira Ray discovered that economics was one of the highlights of her undergraduate commerce degree she decided take it to a higher level.
‘I always enjoyed my economics electives knew I wanted to continue specialising in economics so honours was the next obvious step,’ she says.
Completing her honours degree in 2013, Ruchira is in the final year of a three year-graduate program with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and has just been appointed a permanent role as an economist with a team that produces long-term forecasts for gas and electricity use in Australia.
‘My honours degree helped me get to this position so it’s been highly valuable to my career. My role involves market research, data analysis and econometric analysis, and developing forecasting models. I also engage directly with large industrial users of electricity and gas to understand their market drivers,’ she explains.
Before commencing her honours degree, Ruchira says she contacted Deakin’s honours lecturers who invited her to sit in on some of the classes to see if an honours program was something she wanted to pursue.
‘I really liked the lecturers and the teaching style and that helped me make my decision to apply for an honours’ program.’
She says completing that program has now made a significant contribution to her current professional role – particularly the modelling component.
‘I regularly use the econometric and economic techniques learnt during my honours year. I also read academic papers to help develop ideas for model development which is something I learnt to do in honours.’
During her studies, Ruchira’s hard work was recognised by several awards including the Vice Chancellor’s Prize, Productivity Commission Prize and a partial scholarship.
‘It was great to be recognised Deakin and it gave me the confidence to continue further in my chosen field,’ she says.
Now working in that field for AEMO – an organisation which operates and monitors electricity and gas markets – Ruchira says there a ‘lot happening in the energy space’ including Liquefied Natural Gas exports, Queensland’s renewable energy penetration and solar photovoltaic (PV) uptake in homes.
‘Through technological change, policy and evolving customer behaviour, the way we use energy is changing rapidly. Working at AEMO, I get to witness this first hand and grapple with some of the challenges it brings. This is a very exciting time to be in the industry.’
She says that her economics-focused honours degree was a highly-valuable career investment.
‘The skills that you develop – such as critical thinking, presentation skills, communication – help with any career path. I enjoy analytical and research based roles where I can apply my economics skills so that’s the direction I’m heading.’