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This year saw the promotion of several of our staff. Erte Xiao has been promoted to Professor. Choon Wang has been promoted to Associate Professor. Matt Leister and Chengsi Wang have been promoted to Senior Lecturer. Congratulations to all.
Gary Magee and Erte Xiao were recently named 'field leaders' by The Australian in Economic History and Game Theory & Decision Sciences respectively. Gary was also named “field leader” across the whole discipline of History.
Monash Business School was also cited as the leading institution in development economics, sustainable development, economic policy and international business. Congratulations as well to all who contribute to those fields as well as to Centre for Development Economics and Sustainability and Centre for Global Business for institutional leadership in those areas. Michelle Greenwood from Department of Management and Chris Veld from Department of Banking and Finance were also recognised. A very good outcome for the Business School.
Imagine the boot of Italy on the map. In the “instep” between the toe and the heel lies Basilicata, a small mountainous region between two seas. Far from the mainstream touristy regions of Italy. This is where Associate Professor Giovanni Caggiano originates from.
“My region is not very well known but it had some fame recently when the New York Times ranked it third on a list of places people should go in 2018.” Unlikely as it may seem, he is not the only member of department from the region. Lecturer Claudio Labanca is also from Basilicata.
So does the region breed a lot of Economists?
“I don’t have data but if I think of the number of economists in comparison to the total population then I would say yes. Probably when you come from a region that is quite poor, when you go to university your parents push you towards a field where you can get a job. With Economics you can at least work in banking”, says Giovanni Caggiano.
He didn’t end up in banking but is specialised in applied macroeconomics “somewhere between empirical macroeconomics and time series econometrics”. He appreciates that the department is growing, even within his own field.
Joining Monash and moving to the other side of the world was not a very difficult step for him or his wife. He’s been coming to Melbourne for several years to see a friend and co-author who works at the University of Melbourne.
“It was a big move in geographical distance but not in terms of psychological distance. It’s familiar both for me and my wife. It was not as easy for her because she had to leave a job in Italy and didn’t have one here but we both love Melbourne. It’s very multicultural which we like and it has some exotic aspects of Australia. But there’s also a lot of what I used to have. It’s a walkable city and we don’t need a car. There are also cinemas, theatres, music concerts, libraries and book shops. And food is fantastic!”
Not a bad verdict coming from an Italian. In his free time he likes to go to the movies and music concerts and is an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction although he claims he is getting much slower with age.
“I spent months reading “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace which has been a revelation. Philip Roth I love. I was a Philip Roth fan for many years and read everything he wrote. I was sad when he passed away” he says.
Lately he has started consuming non-fiction through podcasts. “I get up early in the morning and walk to work listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s “Revisionist History”, he’s just amazing.”
But neither banking nor macroeconomics was something Giovanni Caggiano wasted much time on growing up. For many years his dream was to become a professional soccer player.
“I wasn’t good enough. I played until I was eighteen but then I just didn’t have the exceptional skills needed. From my earliest memories I’ve supported the same team, AC Milan, so I guess that stays with you for life.”
One thing he misses here is watching the matches on the weekend, the time difference makes it too hard. Every Monday he wakes up and looks at the results.
“If AC Milan did badly over the weekend then the week won’t start in a good mood”, he says.
But on his mind more than football these days is his new born son Nicolò.
“If my colleagues who have more experience have any tips on how to get a good sleep at night then they should get in touch and let me know how to cope.”
Only a local Melburnian will know what it means to be the only St Kilda supporter in a school near Essendon where every class mate barracks for the AFL team with the same name.
“It was tough going to school in Essendon, they were an incredibly strong team at the time, and all the Essendon kids would remind me how bad the Saints were”, says Gordon Leslie. But the experience didn’t deter him from wanting to become what any Melbourne kid would want to be:
“A premiership winning centre half forward for St Kilda!”
This, in Melbourne’s north-west is where Gordon Leslie grew up. And this is where he has chosen to return – still a St Kilda fan. His parents live in the same house in Strathmore and he is not far away in Footscray.
His primary school teacher was also a part time zoo keeper at Melbourne zoo so for a few years this was another career dream of Gordon’s. Not until he realised he was good at maths and got to University did he realise that his future might be in Economics.
After his undergraduate degree at The University of Melbourne, and a stint at the Commonwealth Treasury, he applied to do a PhD in the US. He ended up doing a PhD in Industrial Organisation at Stanford University with a focus on empirical work that evaluates policy changes and market design issues in electricity markets.
“A lot of very good Australian academics go and get training overseas to return here so I thought that’s what I should do too.”
After five years in the US he and his wife have recently returned to Melbourne. It was always the plan to come back to Australia at some point, it just wasn’t clear when. But when the offers started coming in, the one from Monash was very good.
“We thought this is ultimately where we might want to end up so let’s take it whilst it’s there.”
And it seems to be very good timing for Australia to have someone specialised in energy markets return?
“Yes, it’s timely. Energy issues in Australia are really taking off and there seems to be a need for good economic analysis. And the department was very well placed to get me productive”, says Gordon.
He is already collaborating with colleagues in Engineering and IT at the Monash Energy Materials and Systems Institute (MEMSI) which conducts research to create new products in the energy sector. Along with Monash’s Net-Zero Initiative, they have committed to start up an on-campus, transactive micro-grid, a miniature electricity market. There are many technical challenges but also some economic and policy challenges which Gordon would like to focus on -- like whether it is feasible to administer and organise a market that has building managers on campus responding to higher or lower wholesale costs or prices during the day.
“It’s very exciting times at the energy space at Monash.”
When he is not working Gordon is a keen reader and currently on a big Terry Pratchett bender.
“I’m about half way through the series.” No small feat, there are 41 novels in the series. He also enjoys catching a movie or two at the cinema.
“There’s the magnificent little Sun theatre at Yarraville which has a terrific atmosphere where we like to go.”
He has recently adopted a Greyhound which he takes on morning walks and on adventures to the beach with his wife. Most weekends they spend with the in-laws in Mount Macedon. The dog is named Cleaver after the brilliant and self-destructive barrister Cleaver Greene in the Australian TV-series Rake.
“But my dog is a far better person than Cleaver Greene is”, he says.