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ICEF Held Thesis Defense Sessions for Its Master’s Cohort

ICEF Held Thesis Defense Sessions for Its Master’s Cohort

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Presented to the thesis committee was a total of 31 master’s theses. Of these, twenty-one were given excellent grades, with four scoring 10. The thesis committee had among its members professors of ICEF, NES and HSE. Here’s how the honours students prepared for their thesis defense, what drove their choice of topic and what they plan to do after graduation.

Anna Posokhina

Thesis supervisor: Fabian Slonimczyk. Thesis title: The Effects of Childbirth on Female Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Russia

My graduation paper attempts to estimate how childbirth can impact a woman’s career path in Russia in terms of employability, relocating for a job, and prospects of promotion. The topic was an easy choice. As a woman embarking of her career, I just used the opportunity to explore academically what I’ve had an interest in. My study went farther than the traditional examination of the gender pay gap to find out what it is that catalyzes and explains the pay differences – precisely the birth of first-born, a vital event in every woman’s life that leads to major changes in her career progress. I really wanted to explore this topic academically. It laid the foundation for my two-year long research that ultimately yielded some fruitful results. 

With this topic in mind, I hoped to find a supervisor with similar research interests and diverse experience in my chosen area. Willing to assist me on my research journey was Fabian Slonimczyk, who has been specializing in labor economics and applied econometrics for many years. I stayed in touch with my research supervisor throughout the whole period of thesis writing, and we would meet every two or three weeks to discuss my progress and to plan further steps. This helped me to stay organized and continue working on my thesis even when my other academic tasks came to the fore. And, what is more, it gave me the awareness that I was on the right track and moving in the right direction.

Fabian would always say, “You are a researcher”

Even when it seems that everything goes wrong or your results are far from what you have expected, this, too, is part of the painstaking work of a researcher and a thing you need to take really calmly. This has been a unique experience for me. And although I didn’t choose academia over industry, it will help me build a career in finance. I see myself working in a business, that’s where I want to be at this stage of my life.

Many of the thesis committee’s questions pertained to methods used in my research, since those were rather complex methods, designed to obtain more accurate and reliable results. One question, a very difficult one, related to how women’s career patterns might evolve in the future in the context of my research findings. To answer it, one needs to consider a whole array of factors, and I was glad to voice my vision with the thesis committee members and my colleagues. 

I am very pleased to have my thesis graded so high by my supervisor, the reviewer, and the members of the thesis defense commission. Given the amount of work and effort I had put into my research, I did expect ‘excellent’, but, frankly, getting a ten came as a surprise.

Daria Chipchagova

Thesis supervisor: Sofya Budanova. Thesis title: Analysis of FDI Inflow Determinants in Russian Regions

Like all students, I was very nervous before my thesis defense. I didn’t expect to score as high as 10. I wanted to present my research in as much detail as possible within the allowed time. All questions from the thesis commission appeared interesting and in-depth, and I was very pleased that the commission had found my thesis worthy of close attention. They also suggested a number of further research prospects in my area.

My master’s thesis has been a follow up on the topic of my coursework, in which I took keen interest, so at this stage I was able to explore it in greater detail. My supervisor, Sofya Budanova, is a major expert in her field, and I am very grateful to her for the professional advice and valuable comments that helped me go on with writing in critical moments.

This has been a very useful experience. My plan is to achieve further growth by learning new things and to establish myself as a valuable employee.

Daria Yakovleva

Thesis supervisor: Vladimir Sokolov. Thesis title: Corporate Governance Gender Diversity and Company Performance: Evidence from Russia

My high grade is in fact a well-deserved reward for all my hard work. As for whether I expected it, I rather expected it from my research supervisor and the reviewer. It has been a great honour to receive a ten from the professors of ICEF and NES, it really came as a surprise. But, with high assessments serving as a sort of “airbag” for me at the defense, I didn’t rule out the possibility of getting a ten altogether, but you never know at the defense, even though I felt it was unlikely for me to get a grade lower than “excellent”.

I can’t say I had a lot of meetings with my supervisor, but those few had proven very productive. Most of them were Zoom meetings, and we were able to discuss all my concerns. Whenever I had a question or a query, I would contact my supervisor by e-mail or via messenger. To give one example, four days before the exam I found some of my research results to be unrealistic and had to rewrite the case studies part after discussing with my supervisor.

Having to make adjustments two days before my thesis was due for submission was my biggest stress

However, if I hadn’t made them I wouldn’t have hardly achieve this high grade. Whatever happens happens for the best.

My choice of thesis topic relates to my long-standing interest, which is gender diversity and gender issues in general. I previously explored gender pay gap and I thought it might be useful to continue with it in a new dimension. While the relation between corporate governance gender diversity and company performance represents a sufficiently explored topic in the West, there are only a handful of studies that use the Russian data. And because gender diversity in Russian management still remains a poorly explored topic, I embarked on it as a highly relevant and interesting issue.

I am currently employed but doing interviews to get a job in my field. And I also consider the possibility of studying for a PhD.

Meilis Orazov

Thesis supervisor: Udara Peiris. Thesis title: The Interaction of Monetary and Macroprudential Policies in the Presence of Financial Friction

Macroeconomics – precisely applied macroeconomics – has always been my passion. Even if your occupation is of theocratic nature, it should necessarily have as outcome a certain insight that can be applied to current reality or used in today’s macroeconomic planning. In this sense, monetary policy is a perfect choice. By building theoretical models it is possible to find out how a particular monetary strategy may influence the state of things in the economy. It’s both an exciting and a practical investigation. Another issue I developed an interest for is financial stability, especially after the notorious crisis of 2008-2009. This led me to explore the interaction of monetary and macroprudential policies in greater detail. My paper attempts to find the most optimal combination, where the monetary policies are responsible for the traditional regulation of the economy and macroprudential ones for the financial stability. 

Choosing a thesis supervisor is an extremely important decision. It’s like employment, the only difference being that you work with just one person

Therefore, the match should be made based on detailed information about your potential supervisors as their research interests should be in perfect alignment with yours. And, of course, the match should be made based on your compatibility as humans. Different supervisors use different styles to build relationships with their students. While some tend to be demanding, others prefer to be equal partners, but in any case if you bring initiative and are willing to get to the truth, you won’t be left without the assistance from your supervisor. 

As to student-supervisor cooperation, it’s always a mutual process. You are to demonstrate you are deeply engaged in the topic and that you are a diligent student for your professor to believe in you and lead you through the maze of economic questions. Otherwise, you can’t expect your contact to be healthy. One message I am trying to get across to students and friends is try hard, enjoy what you do, and you will be rewarded. That’s what I do. You don’t need to care if other people underrate your chosen topic. If you like it and think it deserves more attention, go for it!

My goal now is to start applying my skills and knowledge in practice, since theoretical knowledge alone, no matter how valuable it may be, is never sufficient for understanding the ins and outs of the industry.

And because I know how important it is to keep my skills up-to-date and be working to higher standard, I am open to new challenges and achievements. ICEF is a real forge of talents and highly skilled personnel, enabling its students to pave the way in any field from industry to academia. For me personally, it has always been important to do what I really like. I believe that given due effort, the profession you love will always bring results. 

I'm excited to go to this new stage in my life when I need to decide what I want to do and how my future role can benefit the society. But no matter the path I’ll choose, I will stay grateful to ICEF for giving me the clear understanding of the academic subjects and for instilling in me, largely thanks to my teachers, an even greater love for science.