A day in the life of an Economist – Nick Brunsdon

Nick Brunsdon has recently joined the Infometrics Team.  This month we sit down to chat with Nick about what he’s working on at Infometrics and what brought him full circle to work in economics.

Nick has two articles in our July newsletter; the first is about the scope and value of Infometrics Events Calculator and the second is about the changes in New Zealand’s housing size over time.

Bio – Nick Brunsdon

Studied at: University of Canterbury
Resides in: Kapiti Coast

Jacqui: What are you currently working on and what does your job entail?

Nick: I’m currently working on an economic impact assessment around a technology which improves productivity for beekeepers. Because beekeeping is concentrated in rural areas which often have lower incomes, the assessment highlights how this improvement can lead to more jobs and better incomes, especially in areas with currently poor socioeconomic performance like Northland and the East Coast of the North Island. In between consulting work like that, I look after our South Island regional clients, helping them to make the most of our products. I also write their Quarterly Economic Profiles.

Jacqui: What is your background and how has this influenced your work at Infometrics?

Nick: I didn’t set out to do economics – I went to the University of Canterbury to study engineering, then switched to geography and economics, before completing Honours and Masters study in Geography. Geography is one of those subjects that you can take in any direction, so for me my research was about geospatial and quantitative analysis, mostly applied to a health setting.
While I was studying, I landed a job at Canterbury Development Corporation as an analyst focused on workforce and housing issues. This was at a time when post-earthquake housing pressures in Christchurch were at their height, which really sparked my interest in housing. It was a great exposure to the ins and outs of regional economic development, and I draw upon that experience a lot as I work with our regional clients now – I was an Infometrics client back then!

Doubling down on my interest in housing, I took up a role at BRANZ – the building research institute in Wellington. There I developed experience in project managing research and working with industry to turn their questions and ideas into consulting or research projects. I enjoyed learning much more about the nitty gritty of the building industry, and hope to apply this to work for our building sector clients in future.

Jacqui: What challenges do you see in the future?

Nick: I think it’s really interesting to see how the ageing population manifests across New Zealand and its implications for economic development. We’ve already got 13 districts where natural increase is zero or negative, meaning that births are outweighed by deaths – the only thing keeping them from population decline is continued attraction of migrants from the rest of New Zealand and overseas. This has implications for how we grow and how we think of economic success – businesses will struggle to grow when they can’t replace retiring workers and their local customer base is stagnant or declining. It will be interesting to see the different responses – at what point do you accept that traditional economic growth might not be achievable, and what goals do you set instead?

Jacqui: What do you enjoy doing when not at work?

Nick: I’ve got a 15 month old daughter, so most of my life outside work revolves around her. I love getting outdoors, so I’m slowly trying to introduce that bug to her through bush walks and gardening, which she’s taken to well. I’m a very keen DIYer, so there’s no shortage of half finished projects around the house to work on. My wife is from down South, so we spend a lot of time with her family in Christchurch and like to go to Arrowtown for the Christmas break each year.

Jacqui: What is an intriguing fact about you?

Nick: I visited Infometrics while I was at high school, as part of an economics careers day. We also visited the Reserve Bank and the Westpac trading floor. I’m not sure if was particularly effective, as I set out to study engineering after high school, but I guess I did end up at Infometrics after all.

Jacqui: Thank you Nick. We’re very pleased that you’ve made your way back to Infometrics!

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