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.

Sports Symposium


On Wednesday, I attended a wonderful Sports Symposium event, hosted by La Trobe’s Centre for Sport and Social Impact (CSSI), of which I am a staff member. It was aimed primarily at young hopefuls who wish to make a career in the sports industry. The guest speakers included notable AFL figures Geelong CEO Brian Cook, The Age sports reporter Emma Quayle and player agent Paul Conners (Conners Sports Management). Each of the speakers had some special nuggets of wisdom to impart. ‘Tenacity’ was a big theme for each of them.

CSSI Director Professor Russell Hoye tells me that this is set to become a semi-regular event. I can’t wait to see who is on the bill for the next one. I’ll be there with bells on.

Equality and Diversity Program


This morning, I completed a 4-hour program on Equality and Diversity Awareness. It followed an on-line module that I had already completed last week (about 2 hours). It was largely a refresher course, one of multiple I’ve completed since undertaking a 3-day full program way back in 1999. This one covered disability, multiculturalism and related issues – the highlight for me was the section on indigenous culture, delivered by Mick Coombes (La Trobe’s Indigenous Employment Coordinator). Very useful – I learned a lot.

These issues are a bit of a hobby horse of mine – I volunteered to act as a Conciliator/Advisor for the La Trobe Equity and Access Unit from 2002-2009 inclusive. On occasion, I dealt with conciliation and mediation cases when the Unit was short-staffed, as part of this role. Check out the poster via the link below!!!


Transition to Leadership Program


Today, I completed a training course at La Trobe called: “Transition to Leadership” (along with about 25 other participants), designed for those who have a potential view to future leadership positions in the university sector. It was quite intensive – started back in February, with four full days of workshops and a group assignment thrown in, the purpose of which was to identify a significant University challenge and develop a strategy to tackle it (via report and presentation to the relevant Committee). My group’s issue was student residential service provision in the wake of future likely expansion.

I found it to be a most worthwhile experience. Moreover, upon reflection, it’s easy enough to sit back and bag senior administrators relentlessly for their decisions and performance, but it’s another thing to be able to develop the skills do a better job yourself. To this end, the course gave me a bit more empathy towards these administrators, and I have learned enough such that I will no doubt be less critical ‘purely for the sake of it’ hereafter.

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.

Ethics Committee


I have agreed to join our Faculty’s Human Ethics Committee. This will be a learning experience, as I have always worked with publicly-available data; but plan to work with human subjects in the near future, specifically an experimental economics study looking at anti-doping policy.

Although, I will not have to navigate the potential minefield of submitting ethics applications myself, it will be useful to learn things about the process – all part of trying to make oneself more rounded as a researcher.

In Seattle for the WEAI Conference


I’m in Seattle for the WEAI Conference (known informally as the ‘Westerns’). It’s only my second time to this shindig, following last year’s Conference in San Francisco. The Westerns is one of the 5 biggest annual economics conferences in North America, but more importantly for me, it is the biggest annual gathering of sports economists in the World, as this is the regional conference where many of them agree come and arrange their own sessions, since they don’t run their own stand-alone conference (whether lack of critical mass or something else).

I am presenting a paper, co-authored with Niven Winchester (MIT) on estimating the effectiveness of the try-bonus point rule in rugby as a means of incentivising attacking play. I am also discussing a paper on the AFL’s unique Father-Son Rule, which has been interesting for me to read and write a critique of.

Having had a look at the programme, I am truly salivating at the prospect of some of the sessions (not merely the sports economics ones). Conferences in North America tend to be quite intensive compared with other parts of the World, and the Westerns is no exception – they often run over weekends, session often run from 8AM to 6PM with no designated gap for lunch (it’s just assumed you’ll miss a session at sometime during the day to eat something); and the sports economists tend to go for an evening meal and a beer each night afterwards – doesn’t leave a lot of time in the day for normal activities.

Yet I find it quite enjoyable. The only problem? As usual, I got right-royally screwed by the scheduling – first presenter in the first (8:15am) session on the last morning of the conference. Thanks a lot!

Symposium: Brazil at the Centre of the Sporting World


Today, La Trobe University hosted an important symposium at its brand new City Campus, called: Brazil at the Centre of the Sporting World. This event was organised jointly by Centre for Sport and Social Impact (CSSI, of which I am a member) and the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS, administrated by our Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences), and included such luminaries as H. E. Rubem Barbossa (the Brazilian Ambassador to Australia) and Craig Foster (SBS Chief Football Analyst and Presenter).

I made a 15-minute presentation as part of panel discussion, based on my paper (now published, see link): “The Underdog Should Always Fire the First Salvo Against Brazil”, from Applied Economics Letters, which I have blogged about here previously.