Retail

Austin Hughes Talks About His Role As An Economist

By Donna Ahern
Austin Hughes Talks About His Role As An Economist

Donna Ahern talks to Austin Hughes, economist, formerly with KBC, the Central Bank, Bord Fáilte and the Department of Finance.

How would you describe your role?

I think others might describe my current role as ‘Grumpy Old Man’.

I prefer to say that I provide analysis and commentary on the economy in general, and matters relevant to the Irish consumer, in particular.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

I worked in Clery’s on their delivery vans for a couple of summers. I learned a lot about customer expectations and, occasionally at first hand, their frustrations about wrong deliveries.

What do you enjoy most about your current job?

Having left full-time employment, I like being able to focus on economic issues that are of most interest to me.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Hopefully still analysing consumer sentiment and other economic matters of importance to Irish consumers.

What is your advice to people starting out in the industry?

It sounds too obvious, but it is critical to learn all you can about your consumer.

What was your worst job, and what was so bad about it?

I won’t name the worst job – for legal reasons! The best job I had was way back when I was working in a record shop but what was so bad about it was owing them money at the end of the week because of the records I bought.

What do you think the government could do to help businesses in the current climate?

The government could give them a stronger sense that it will deal with the big issues – housing, climate change, infrastructure – and give business a clear picture of a brighter tomorrow.

What three business people do you most admire, and why?

I would get into trouble with all the local businesses in Drumcondra if I named only three.

What advertising campaign have you most enjoyed in recent months?

Kevin the Carrot’s efforts to make the Irish rugby first XV.

If you could bring back one product that is no longer available in Ireland, what would it be?

(Very) old style Bewley’s chocolate cake.

What was your favourite grocery brand when you were growing up, and why?

Cadbury’s, of course – chocolate is a grocery when you’re growing up!

Who would come to your ideal dinner party (living or dead)?

Sorry to disappoint but it would be extended family – that’s ideal.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

A teacher who told me to work harder.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Our Jack Russell’s walking demands keep spare time to a minimum.

How much time do you spend on social media in a week?

Very little, but it’s still too much.

Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?

LinkedIn.

With which fictional character do you most identify?

Billy the Fish, who replaced the Roy of the Rovers of my childhood.

Most likely to say?

There are so many ways the Government could use the current surplus wisely.

Least likely to say?

Things can only get worse.

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