Tracking Career Success of Past Students


I’ve been updating my CV recently (…as one does periodically), and advice from a colleague prompted me to track the recent career trajectories of some of my past students – that is, those for whom I supervised a thesis (Honours or PhD). Admittedly, I had not been in contact with some of them for quite some time, and so it was lovely renewing acquaintances.

Anyway, I was surprised just how well some of them had done (shouldn’t have been, as they were all good). In fact, some of these Honours students have since progressed to a range of positions with many notable organisations, such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC); BIS Shrapnel; National Australia Bank (NAB); and Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Furthermore, a PhD student I successfully co-supervised now has an academic position in his native Saudi Arabia (Arab Open University). One of the best aspects of academia is the realisation of the role you play in the development of students. I’m genuinely rapt to see they’re all doing so well in their respective fields.

Supervision has provided other benefits – one of these Honours theses (David Rulli) resulted in extra work producing an ‘A’ journal publication (2013 ABDC Rankings); while another Honours student (Tanya Tran), collected high-detail (categories, prices, etc.) annual AFL membership data for many years/teams, which now forms a useful database for my future research with significant possible future intellectual property value.

Superb World Cup ‘Selection Bias’ Example


[Cross-posted at: The Sports Economist, 4 July 2014]

For all those economics professors and tutors out there who struggle to explain the crucial concept of ‘selection bias’, a nice illustration can be found in FIFA World Cup finals records. With students (at least those who do not loathe sport) currently in soccer-crazy mode, they may be more motivated to understand this concept through the following trivia question:

Q: In World Cup (finals) history, which team has the highest goal-scoring ratio (goals scored divided by games played)?

Scroll below for the answer, which may be surprising to many, except the amateur World Cup historians among you.

Most people would instinctively say Brazil; however, they appear second on this list at 2.16 per game (218 from 101 games, inclusive of the second-round of the 2014 edition). Germany follows at a very-close third with 2.15 (221 from 103).

The record-holders are…wait for it…Hungary! Yes, those ‘Mighty Magyars’ top the list and (get this) by a comfortable margin, too – indeed a chasm – their 87 goals in 32 games comes in at an astonishing 2.72 goals per game.

If you don’t believe me (and you’re more than entitled not to), check the figures here. Hungary has never won the World Cup, but have twice reached the final: in 1938, when they lost to Italy; and again in 1954, with legends Puskás and Kocsis (et al.) in their ‘Golden Team’, which came into that World Cup undefeated in more than 4 years, only to squander a two-goal lead (which they had after only 8′) to (the then-West) Germany, who incidentally they had annihilated in the first round by the incredible scoreline of 8-3.

OK, so what is the selection bias here? Well, look at the chart below, which displays average goals per game by World Cup. The flags I added at the top of the bars denote the World Cup finals that Hungary both entered and qualified for.

goals by world cup

From this, it is easy to see that scoring outcomes were lower from 1962 compared to earlier, with a further decline (albeit slight) since then. Hungary is but one of a number of national football teams that were among the best handful in the World for considerable periods at any time since the inaugural World Cup in 1930 (according to retrospective Elo ratings, they were ranked number one as late as 1965). However, of all national teams in this category, Hungary is the one that played the highest proportion of its matches in higher-scoring World Cups.

For all you Magyars out there lamenting your boys’ extended absence from the big stage (28 years now and counting), rest assured that (since it’s unlikely that Brazil and Germany will ever get anywhere near 2.72) the only way to guarantee holding this highly-prestigious record in perpetuity is to continue to NOT qualify for the finals – proof that there is indeed success in failure!

UPDATE: OK, Germany (2.181) now overtake Brazil (2.146) for second-place after that unbelievable semi-final; but Hungary’s place at the summit still looking just as safe in the bank vault as before!

Teaching in Bendigo


I have the pleasure of teaching at La Trobe’s Bendigo Campus in my first-year macro subject over the next three Thursdays (1, 8 and 15 May). The Campus is beautiful – set on the edge of town, near a state forest, and occasionally attracts kangaroos to Campus grounds.

I am originally from the Bendigo region (just as famous theorist, Frank Milne), so I look forward to seeing a bit a family while up there. Despite both this, and that I have been at La Trobe since 1997, however, this is my inaugural sojourn to our Bendigo Campus. Very much looking forward to the experience!

Malthouse Gives Sports Economics Guest Lecture


Coach of Carlton (AFL) Football Club, Michael Malthouse, gave a guest lecture in my Sports Economics (ECO3EOS) class this morning. The overarching theme of his talk was how the business model of the game has changed in his 40+ years in the competition. Having played in or coached over 800 VFL/AFL games (not to mention one premiership as player and three as coach); he ought to know a thing or two about this. My students found it most enlightening, and (needless to say), so did I.

I followed his talk by presenting some of my results on my recent (and preliminary) work on anti-tanking policy in the AFL. I was a bit lucky to snag him for this. Malthouse has had a position as Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe since last year, so I was able to leverage off this. Total respect…and not just for the footballing accolades, either.

This followed a similar guest talk last year by John Didulica (Operations Manager, Melbourne Heart). Next year, I hope to get someone from Rugby, just mix the sports up a bit.

New Edition of our Finance Textbook


The new (3rd) edition of my textbook Financial Markets, Institutions and Money (with David Kidwell, Mark Brimble, Paul Docherty, Paul Mazzola and Anup Basu), published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, is now available at all good academic bookstores.

While I no longer teach finance (hence don’t get an opportunity to use it), it was a pleasure contributing to a pedagogic project that I really believe in, and working with an assortment of like-minded economics/finance academics.


Teaching-Related Training


I undertook a double-header of training today: (i) Audio-Visual Systems; and (ii) Lectopia (our lecture recording system). The old days of ‘walk and talk’ have been numbered for sometime. This training will help me stay on top of the technology in our teaching spaces at La Trobe (and elsewhere, whenever I give seminars, etc.).

This follows on the related training session I did 6 months ago on basics of Moodle (our new Learning Management System as of this year). We are the first university in Australia to trial Moodle (prediction is that many others will follow), and signs are thus far that it has worked well. After some time off teaching, this was a great way to get me pumped for the forthcoming semester.

Release of my First-Ever Textbook


I am very excited about the release of my first textbook, called: Financial Markets, Institutions & Money . It is the 2nd edition of an Australian adaptation of the existing US text by lead author David Kidwell (Minnesota); and co-authored with, Mark Brimble (Griffith), Anup Basu (QUT) and Dianne Thomson (Deakin). It is published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, and now available!

The experience was great – I always enjoy exploring academic activities for the first time, and I will probably jump at the chance for another edition (or a different text). I will be using this in my Financial Instruments subject at La Trobe, and look forward to applying some of my original contributed material from the text in the subject design.


Open Day at La Trobe


Open Day at La Trobe’s main (Bundoora) Campus is on this Sunday (30 August). I’ll be on hand at the School of Economics and Finance exhibit, and giving a scheduled talk about our programmes. Feel welcome to join us, as there’s lots of fantastic activities on campus.

I’ve been doing Open Day in this capacity since I joined here in 1997, and it’s changed ever so much. Once, it seemed to be necessary chore to appear ‘open’ to the community. Now, it’s seen as one of the most valuable opportunities we have to attract new students. As such, the resources put into it have grown, and it has gone from a backyard operation to a slick, professionally-run event in just those dozen years.