Eric Chung

In my current role as a project coordinator I attend many cross-functional team meetings where I frequently leverage economics course content to add to the discussion: price sensitivity, opportunity cost, cost-benefit analysis and statistical models. Often I use basic principles as a framework for understanding more complex ideas.

As an example, economics students may not be exposed to the concept of factorial design of experiments but we are familiar with a tool to analyze them, regressions! I also work closely with analysts, statistics gurus, to inform business decisions – two of them are even from Waterloo! It’s easier when you have a high-level understanding of what an analysis involves, an inkling of analysis assumptions and limitations. With that small seed of knowledge, you can ask informed questions which will result defensible analyses and better decisions.

During my time studying economics I worked part-time in retail sales to help pay for school, not a glamorous full-time co-op job. Sales jobs are great, you get to meet new people, make new friends and earn work experience. I think they have a bad reputation for not providing students with enough relevant experience. Wrong! You only get what you give. During the 4.5 years as a part-time associate I was trained in different aspects of store operations. This exposed me to employee hiring and retention strategies, national marketing campaign deployments, retail payroll and scheduling software, and budgets, sales and procurement relationships. Not bad, eh?

It’s no coincidence my retail background helped me land my current job. I work in the customer relationship management and technology industry, customer experience is a hot topic continually discussed and the projects I currently manage are for retail clients. I didn’t know it at the time but years spent as a retail sales associate helps me in my position today. As an example, when gathering requirements for point-of-sale (POS) software changes wouldn’t it be helpful to understand what it is and how it’s used, even from a limited sales associate perspective?

In 2012, I proudly graduated with a four-year degree in economics with a specialization in econometrics. Half my graduating class had jobs lined up, the other half were still figuring things out, and the other half didn’t understand ECON 321. I was part of the second group, the confused half. That was two years ago. Today while writing up business proposals or reviewing analyses, I am thankful for the time at Waterloo and I consider my understanding of economics a major contributor to my success.

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