Sara Gonzales is a Peruvian economist doing a PhD in Social Science at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, where she also did a master’s in social science. In this interview, Sara tells about why she joined the DEEPEN-project and her tasks during the project, the differences between working in the public and private sector, her perspective on the different pension systems in Europe, and what she hopes to do after her PhD.
What are your tasks during the DEEPEN-project as a PhD candidate?
I’m part of the Spanish team, as such I focus on analyzing Spanish private pensions’ regulations and practices. One of the most stimulating activities are the meetings with the whole team. In those, I’m able to learn from more experienced researchers from different fields. In the future, I will have a more active role in the quantitative work packages of the project.
What was your main reason to join the DEEPEN-project?
After I finished my master in social sciences, I was looking for financial aid to continue with PhD studies. Once I heard about the DEEPEN-project and its multidisciplinary approach, I’ve decided to apply. I have a bachelor’s degree in economics, and so far I haven’t done any research with qualitative methods. As I strongly believe in the advantages of a mixed method approach in social science, I found that DEEPEN allows me to explore the political economic dynamics of pension funds from such a multidisciplinary and multi-methods perspective.
You are as a Peruvian economist the only DEEPEN-member from outside of Europe. What is your perspective on the different pension systems in Europe?
As a foreigner it’s very enriching to learn the regulations and practices on private pensions in a more matured context. One outstanding aspect of the project is the focus on the governance of the funds. In the past years, there has been a lot of conflict over the role and governance of private pensions in Latin-American countries like Chile and Peru.
You worked in both the private and public sector. What were the biggest differences?
As a public servant, I faced more constraints in the ways I performed my work on a daily basis, as I had to follow several laws and regulations in all my tasks. The private sector allowed me to have a more creative approach as long as I met the goals. Another important difference was the ultimate goal between the profit-oriented private sector and the public sector.
And then the last question: what do you hope to do after you finish your PhD?
I’ve just started the PhD and for now my main focus is on finishing my dissertation. Afterwards, I’m totally open to explore different job opportunities in academia or in the public or private sectors.