IN THE MIDDLE | beyond the job description

Going Beyond the Job Description: Economists

By Alyanna Silvestre
Published May 13, 2021

There are common misconceptions on what it takes to be an economist whose main responsibilities revolve around research and educated guess. Luckily, Carlo Asuncion, UnionBank of the Philippines' Chief Economist, sheds light on the qualities that make an economist as he shares his career journey in another career-defining episode of Job Defined, and we’re here to break it down for you.

Qualities Perfect for an Economist


One of the many factors that make an economist great is their curiosity. In this field, you must be able to question and challenge available information and take into account the in-betweens or individual variables that may not be highlighted but are critical for you to maximize the use of data and reach a forecast that’s hopefully correct.

Data gathering

An efficient economist must be equipped with cutting-edge technology for data gathering. These professionals must know how and when to push the boundaries of measuring things and researching subjects. They must learn how to step back from conventional and traditional processes and embrace new and creative ways of collecting valid data and information to come up with alternative proxies for weighing events and even measuring crises.


On top of being curious, one should be an open-minded individual. Open-mindedness allows a professional to confidently challenge own existing beliefs, unspoken in-betweens, and new ideas coming in which, in turn, helps in obtaining fresh insights and different perspectives.


Like in any other profession, failures and shortcomings are bound to happen to an economist. Since this career is mainly about gut feel and social science, it’s easy for an economist to have missed forecasts when predicting the impact of various events on the economy.

“Your guess is as good as money as long as it’s an educated guess.” - Carlo Asuncion, Chief Economist of UnionBank of the Philippines

Due to its nature, one must be persistent when pursuing this career. When faced with difficulties or such shortcomings, Asuncion said one must not miss out on the learnings that come with it. Instead of being disheartened, an effective economist can use these instances to continuously improve their research processes until they get that one big hit among the many ones they have missed.

Desire to learn math

While it's true that to be a successful economist, you need lots of math, Asuncion made it clear that his profession is not just for math wizards. Math, according to him, is a skill that you can learn. So, if you're interested in making sense of economic trends but are not a math person, the desire to learn this field of study on top of the qualities mentioned above will be enough to help you excel in the industry.

Want more? Check out the full episode here for a deeper understanding of an economist’s role, or listen to previous job-defining and career myth-debunking episodes of Job Defined.

Job Defined is hosted by Mr. Patt Soyao, Icon Executive Asia’s managing director, and powered by Podcast Network Asia, Southeast Asia’s first and biggest podcast network agency. For more information, visit the series’ official Facebook page here