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Title of PhD

Essays on Pension Funds and Responsible Investment

Briefly describe your area of research

The last decades have seen a shift in the ownership structure of financial markets. In particular, pension funds have become a major market force.

The latter experience a constant struggle to meet their beneficiaries' interests and demands, regarding both the financial and non-financial performance of their investments.

Especially environmental, social and ethical factors have been gaining importance for pension funds.

In my research, I empirically analyse whether pension funds can balance both the financial and ethical demands of their beneficiaries, and I investigate potential drivers of pension funds' preferences for socially responsible investment.

Why did you select Reading?

The ICMA Centre has a great reputation in the academic community for its excellence in research on applied finance.Working on empirical issues in finance, the access to the numerous databases provided by the ICMA Centre and the University is also invaluable to my research.

In addition, studying at Reading offers me the opportunity to engage with leading experts on all research areas that are relevant for my PhD, including socially responsible investment, pension funds and empirical finance and econometrics.

Finally, Reading provides great support for its PhD students including generous funding towards attending conferences and workshops, which is extremely helpful as a young scholar.

What do you enjoy about studying at Reading?

Reading is a very special place to study for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I work best from my office at the University, and my department provides great facilities and support, which quickly made me feel part of the University community.

In addition, I greatly enjoy attending the variety of research seminars and events offered by the University, as well as more informal opportunities for discussions with other researchers, which really helped in guiding my development as a researcher. And last, but definitely not least, I love Reading's beautiful green campus.

What has been your biggest challenge since starting your research?

The biggest challenge of my PhD has been accepting that the PhD, and academic research in general, is not a continuous upward development (or at least does not feel like it), but is rather characterised by constant ups and downs.

Sometimes you do not feel you have made a lot of progress for a while, whereas during other times you feel like you achieve several milestones in a very short period. The secret is to enjoy the "ups" and push through the other times, knowing that even small steps or "apparent" dead ends all contribute to the final result.

What advice would you give a new postgraduate researcher?

It is important to know your area of research, but it is equally important to keep an open mind regarding related fields.

Being open-minded and following other research areas opens up new perspectives, helps you to think more critically about your own research and might even inspire you regarding new research directions.

Attend research seminars of your department and your University, visit conferences organised by other universities and engage with fellow PhD students and senior academics about their research.

Where do you want to be in five years' time?

My dream was always to become a scholar, teach students about topics that I am passionate about and conduct research that makes an impact.This is why I feel particularly lucky and grateful that I have been offered a lectureship position in my current department.

Not only does this allow me to expand my current research interests but, due to the great facilities at the ICMA Centre, I am also able to explore new research questions that I always wanted to address. In addition, I hope that I will contribute to the collaborative and supportive research environment that I have been fortunate to experience during my PhD.