Students and graduates from your country share their experiences of living and studying with us.
Student name: Hongru Zhang
Course title: MSc in International Economics, Banking & Finance (2006) and PhD in Economics (2011)
Current employer: Nazarbayev University
Achieving academic excellence in both his master’s and PhD, Hongru is currently an Assistant Professor in Economics in the newly set up Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan.
Speaking highly of the PhD route in Cardiff University, Hongru enjoyed the excellent research facilities and encourages students to not only work hard, but play hard too.
Why did you choose Cardiff to do your MSc and PhD?
Since I initially came to do my master’s, I chose Cardiff because it offered me the course I wanted – International Economics, Banking and Finance. Later on I met Professor Patrick Minford as he was my lecturer in Macroeconomics. He helped develop my interests in further study and research into that subject.
Do you think Cardiff equipped you with the necessary skills for your job? And do you think it opened doors for you to further your career in academia?
Yes. I would say the Economics Department at Cardiff University does an excellent job, if not better, of training PhD students.
We had abundant facilities both internally and externally. I also enjoyed well organised research seminars that promoted lots of discussion and inspired great ideas.
My PhD supervisor gave me plenty of help on how to develop my own research philosophy. He often used the phrase “What do you think?” rather than “Let me tell you…” during our discussions and pushed me hard to think and work independently. Meanwhile, the whole department made me feel at home as everyone was friendly.
Tell me about your day-to-day responsibilities as the Assistant Professor in Economics at Nazarbayev University. How many classes do you teach and what modules do you handle?
I am currently sitting in the University Library Committee and the School of Humanities and Social Science Committee. Regarding my teaching duties, I am teaching both Microeconomics and Macroeconomics and this might possibly change in the future. Apart from daily teaching and research activities, I am also involved in designing the curriculum for the Economic major and am in the process of discussions with the School of Policy and Faculty of Evaluation and Design.
Since Nazarbayev University is a newly established university, there are only three faculties in the Economics Department and my roles and responsibilities are currently very complex.
What area of research are you currently focused on? Any upcoming publications or papers?
I am currently working on the macroeconomic implications of financial intermediation on banking sectors; its role in business cycles, monetary policy, etc. After coming to Kazakhstan, my research interests have also been diverted to the economic development of Kazakh and Central Asia in general.
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with prospective students who are thinking about coming to Cardiff?
Study hard then play hard. Cardiff is a beautiful place to explore, but allocate your time wisely.
What important lessons did you learn in Cardiff (academic or otherwise) do you carry with you until today?
Cardiff taught me to think logically and to behave rationally like an economist. If you’ve got a dream, then move in a sure-footed manner because everything else is out of your control. Having humble expectations and then getting a surprise is a more realistic way to handling things. Never give up!