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Young alumni

Darian Woods

24 July 2023

BA (Economics) 2011, BCom (Hons) (Economics) 2011

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Co-host, The Indicator from Planet Money

You are currently co-hosting economics podcast, The Indicator from Planet Money for NPR; can you tell us what you enjoy most about your role?

I most enjoy following my curiosity about new questions in the economy. I love calling people up who are navigating our turbulent world economy and learning from them.

What topic/s have you found most interesting to cover on your podcast?

The sudden surge in inflation that’s happening in the US and New Zealand took a lot of economists by surprise. Deconstructing why this happened was the big economic whodunit last year. I’m also interested in the rise of the Chinese economy, and fun business stories with memorable characters, like how the movie Sideways caused merlot sales to plummet. And the cryptocurrency meltdown: I can’t look away!

How do you find living and working in New York compared to New Zealand?

The scale of New York allowed me to follow my niche more deeply. I go to narrative audio meetups and bump into other economic journalists at book launches, for example. The wider team at Planet Money and The Indicator is very talented. They’ve pushed me to get better at the craft and can complement what I do with what they’re good at.

Getting your foot in the door in a city like New York can be harder though, and many of us strung together unpaid work or temporary contracts before landing permanent roles. Also, they don’t have feijoas here.  

Did you have an idea of a career you wanted to go into when studying Economics at UC?

I switched majors twice in my first year. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I was excited by the pop economics book Freakonomics and was learning a lot in my economics classes, that were unlocking new perspectives on the world. The ability to also study courses in music composition and creative writing alongside my economics degree has helped me in my work today in putting together engaging audio stories.

Do you have any memories that have stuck with you from your time at UC?

I used to sit in a bean bag next to the “New Books” shelf in the library and devour whatever looked fresh.

The two Steves (Stephen Hickson and Steve Agnew) were a fantastic introduction to economics. I remember Stephen Hickson dressing in a Santa costume to explain seasonal adjustment in GDP numbers around Christmas. Eric Crampton, now at the New Zealand Initiative, once brought a guest in to examine the economic viability of helping weka by farming them.

The economics faculty was extremely supportive, encouraging me and my classmates to set up an economics society where we held public debates, revision help, and movie nights. That was fun.

What advice would you give to someone looking to join the workforce upon graduating from university?

I would say you are likely not to get your dream job straight away, and there’s still time to experiment. Being around caring colleagues who will challenge you is important, and you can use elements from any job to grow towards your goals.

Photo Credit: Diba Mohtasham

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