Richard Tooth (PhD ’06) is President of the NSW Branch of the Economic Society of Australia. He has held consulting roles at The Allen Consulting Group, LECG and Booz Allen & Hamilton. He is currently Director of the Sapere Research Group where he recently provided expert testimony to the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
Richard invites all fellow UNSW Australia Business School alumni interested in economics to get involved with the Economic Society of Australia.
Did you always want to be an economist?
Initially, I had no idea what economists did. Midway through my first degree (in information technology and mathematics), I did some economics courses and I got hooked. I remember reading about the economics of crime policy and thinking this is really cool. It showed me a different way of thinking about how we make choices on really important issues.
What are the major challenges of your current role as Director of the Sapere Research Group?
Through Sapere I provide independent expert advice on policy, regulatory and strategy issues to public and private organisations. I work across a range of industries and topics; recently everything from road safety, urban water, insurance markets, energy security and mining taxation.
Any form of consulting can be a tough gig. A common challenge is managing the classic consulting cycle of going from being too quiet to too busy.
What is the role of the Economic Society of Australia? How did you first become involved?
Broadly, the Society’s aims are to promote interest in and application of economics and support the professional development of economists in Australia.
I sought it out. I have a strong belief that the tools used by economists can and should be more widely used in business and informing Government policy. It’s great to get involved in contributing to something that you think is worthwhile.
How can other UNSW Business School Alumni get involved in the society?
Join up and come along (or vice-versa). We hold regular monthly lunchtime seminars on a diverse range of topics. We also hold evening events on topical issues, such as one in October 2012 that coincides with the Nobel Prize announcement and a panel debate in December 2012 on measuring well-being.
Our website is ecosocnsw.org.au
What will economists be doing in 10 years time?
I’m sure the foundations of economics will stay the same but I expect it will continue to be applied in new ways and areas. I think one of the most exciting developments is in the use of psychology and in particular using hedonic psychology (happiness) research to inform economic policy.
I’d like to see greater recognition of the need for ‘evidence based policy’, which naturally leads to a greater use of what economics has to offer.