• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site
ФКН

“ICEF challenges you and that’s the greatest thing about it”

For his outstanding academic progress, active life stance, and striving for personal development, ICEF 2-year master’s student Sergey Filyasov won Golden HSE Award in nomination Silver Nestling. Sergey’s other accolades include the prize from HSE 2018 Student Research Project Competition, and the place on RF Presidential Scholarship program. In his interview, Sergey spoke about what it takes to become a researcher, why studying in Russia is advantageous, and why health is pursued by economists as a research topic.

- Have you always been a bright student or has success come to you from learning how to learn?

I had a very difficult time studying for my bachelor’s degree. The shocking effect of becoming a student seemed unovercomeable and the study materials impossible to understand. But, once your mind is made up to study, you are doing it anyway and your attitude changes cardinally. You become more determined and consistent in dealing with the tasks you are given. And, what is more, the fear of being defeated by a challenge goes away. This philosophy I think can be practiced in everyday life as well. But the process is not over for me: I am still learning how to learn. This is something we should never stop for ourselves. With each new year, course unit or term project the need comes to update visions of how you study or work, the vision of your own self.

- What, or who, do you think helps bachelor’s students find their paths in life and whether they are suited to do research, or pursue academic career, or work for a company?

I couldn’t figure it out for myself what I was going to do in life and where I saw myself working until I became a third-year student. By that time, I had joined the student research group called “Microeconomic Prerequisites for Macroeconomic Models” and received some experience of working in a bank. Those two different experiences helped me realize I was more into science and that research career was the only option for me. A person whom I respect a lot once told me: “You will make a good researcher only if you can’t help becoming one.” It describes my case very aptly.

Many of ICEF alumni have proved equally good as company employees and as researchers with excellent progress while master’s students. Practice is very important. It will dot the i’s and cross the t’s for you when choosing a career path. Of great importance is also the input from faculty staff. I am lucky to have had the professors I have had during my years of studying for bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Andrey Gennadyevich Maksimov, who chairs the Economic Theory and Econometrics Department at HSE campus in Nizhny Novgorod, would encourage me to contribute to scientific events, supporting my initiatives. My scientific supervisors Anna Evgenyevna Novak and Alexander Vladimirovich Larin have been of great help in my research work. No less lucky have I been at the master’s level. The support I receive from Professor Maxim Nikitin cannot be overestimated. He supports me in my lecturing and my intention to start a PhD course, giving advice about the academic side of it and life in general. Of great assistance is also the MSc Study Office, supporting students in all matters possible.

- Why did you choose Moscow to do your master’s degree in, not an overseas country?

After I got my bachelor’s degree, I applied many different master’s programs in Europe and got enrolled in some of them on satisfying conditions earlier in spring. By that time, I had learned I won HSE Contest in Financial Economics, which gave me access to the master’s program at ICEF. I weighted all pros and cons very carefully. On the one hand, the quality of training offered by European schools and ICEF is equally good. On the other hand, going to Europe implied having to take care of the material side of life and other vital issues, which could have been easily avoided if I stayed in Russia.

- What would be the advantages and benefits of doing master’s degree at ICEF?

ICEF challenges you and that’s the greatest thing about it. Be sure that even a course unit that may have seemed useless to you at first glance, will come in handy when and where you least expect it, proving to have added to your analytical thinking skills, for instance.

ICEF hires experts with internationally recognized track record. The experience I get from interacting with them is very important for my future academic career. I mean not only the practical use of networking side by side with consummate professionals, but rather the environment and your colleagues’ level that you want to live up to by achieving more. And your progress will be there before you know it.

- What research projects are you currently working on and how did they enrich you professionally?

My master’s thesis deals with mechanisms to encourage CEO performance in businesses partially owned by government. Although the theory of contracts offers a multitude of models for such mechanisms, it is essential that we know whether they work or not and if yes how exactly. I think the answer to this question is what many stakeholders, including private investors and the government, would really like to know.

Also, I am doing a research internship supervised by Professor Hosny Zoabi at NES. The research project we are engaged in is conducted on a level I have never experienced before. It aims to build a theoretical model which would shed more light on why economically disadvantaged people in developing countries avoid microcredits as a means to help them out of poverty. The project is challenging in terms of the philosophy behind it and the technical implementation. Also, it is contributed by four highly esteemed professors in different countries. The experience I gained working with them has shaped my vision of what I am going to have to deal with in future. Research is more than work, it’s a lifestyle.

- Your teachers think you have an aptitude very rare among economists: you are as good working with theoretical models as you are with actual data. Why is that rare among economists?

As a beginner researcher, I can afford working with both. With time I think I will stick more to either theory and actual data. Indeed, being flexible is good. But, as with any other area of knowledge, if you want to succeed in it, you need to submerge yourself in it. I therefore think there is only one point all accomplished experts are really strong in.

- How does your teaching experience influence your research progress? Assuming that teaching experience will be one of your core assets for getting hired, is teaching something researchers should learn how to do? 

I think there are two reasons why teaching is important for researchers to engage in. Firstly, teaching is about live interaction and audience engagement, which is very important for me as a beginner researcher to practice, whereas research deals more with being able to communicate your idea to the target and non-target audiences. Moreover, student audiences normally have many talented members with different visions and opinions. They help me notice what earlier was not evident at all. What is more, by passing their knowledge onto audiences, teachers make a socially valuable contribution the effect of which is more than evident.

- How do you see your academic career evolving?

I am planning to enroll in a PhD program in Economics either in Europe of North America. I would like to explore the realms of Informational Economics. Given the role information plays in today’s world, the relevance of Informational Economics is self-evident. What I would like to explore particularly is the influences the information generates through health care services system – by looking at behavior patterns and social policies. This is a highly relevant topic. In human capital, health constitutes the most important element. So, the efforts towards enhanced health levels and reduced inequality in access to health services should be high on any government’s agenda.

Sonya Spielberg, specially for HSE ICEF