By | Alexandra McLaughlin ’16

“All of my economics and statistics classes provided me with a solid technical background for the job.” —Ha Song Pham 

Ha Song Pham ’15 (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) discovered a love for data in an economics class her junior year. After learning about econometrics—the methods economists use to test theories and conduct economic forecasts—Pham decided to pursue a career in economic consulting. Today, Pham works as a research analyst with The Brattle Group in Washington D.C. She helps provide consulting services and expert testimony to a wide variety of clients, from law firms to governmental agencies.

One of Pham’s litigation cases involves California’s energy crisis in the 2000s. During this period, some energy sellers used manipulative market behaviors to elevate prices. As an economic consulting firm, Brattle works with lawyers and the State of California. Pham uses microeconomic theories backed up by data analysis to expose the manipulative yet clever acts of the energy sellers.

Data cleaning and analysis constitute much of Pham’s work. Clients provide a raw dataset and expect a final table of results. “In order to get to the final table, we have to first understand the variables in the data, how they are collected, think about how we account for missing values, and so on,” said Pham. “This entire process is data cleaning to yield a final dataset that is clean, consistent, and ready for analysis.” Analysis involves graphing the data, calculating summary statistics, and performing regression analysis.

With majors in both economics and applied mathematics and statistics, Pham often draws on her Macalester education. “All of my economics and statistics classes provided me with a solid technical background for the job,” said Pham. “The demanding course load at Mac also taught me to use my time efficiently.”

Pressure from clients often requires Pham to work under tight deadlines. However, her time at Macalester instilled the importance of delivering error-free and careful work rather than rushing to deliver something full of errors to meet a deadline. “From my Mac education, I have developed an ability to think critically and creatively, and to always consider the ethical aspect of my work,” said Pham.

November 3 2015

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