WINDHOEK - In the small fraternity of economic analysts, Claudia Boamah is making waves in this traditionally male-dominated profession, with her economic forecasts and proposals on economic policy attracting attention from the highest echelons. During a recent investment summit in the capital, Boamah suggested that if Namibians are indeed forward thinkers, then we need to know what the potential of any economic sector is and conduct the necessary research to establish a lifespan of that industry. With this proposal, Boamah suggested that the country adopt a forward-thinking mentality, not just in terms of goals but also in terms of preparations that need to be completed in the processes of achieving long-term objectives.
This week New Era’s Senior Business Journalist, Edgar Brandt, sat down with Boamah to interrogate her on her origins and how she ended up pursuing a career as an economic analyst.
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I get asked these question quite often and I have come to realise that the answer seems a little complicated to some people. So, I have since memorised a concise response which covers bases as far as my origins are concerned, here we go: I’m a Namibian who was born in Botswana to Ghanaian parents on September 6, 1990.
Q: What is your educational background and what subjects did you focus on to become an economic analyst?
A: I attended high school at St. Paul’s College and went on to complete my tertiary studies at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology (KNUST), in Ghana. In my high school, we didn’t choose fields but subjects instead and based on my choices I would say I was a liberal arts/commerce student back then. At university, I chose to study French & Economics; I chose to major in the latter and eventually graduated with an Honour’s Degree in Economics.
Q: Is this career what you aspired to become when growing up or did you envisage another career?
A: Like most people I did not have a defined career path when I was younger. I knew what I didn’t want to do – pure sciences – but that barely narrowed it down. There were also a lot of expectations and opinions, friends & teachers thought that a career in law would suit me, some were of the view that I had a talent for teaching and my father seems to remember his six-year-old girl saying she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up (I do not have the stomach for medicine). In the end it was the combination of my personal interests, academic subjects and extracurricular activities that led me into the field of economics; debating gave me a sociopolitical awareness and I had a decent grip on the subject and a knack for numbers.
Q: When and where did you start your career as an economic analyst?
A: It all began in 2017 at Capricorn Asset Management.
Q: How have you been received by your colleagues and counterparts in the industry, particularly in a male dominated profession?
A: I expected a parade complete with fireworks and a marching band to welcome me into the Namibian economic fraternity but alas we’re almost two years into it and I’m still waiting. Just kidding, I think the reception has been good. Within the company where I work, there are quite a few industry veterans and there are numerous workshops during the year that allow for interaction with men and women, young and old, and all these people are enthusiastic about exchanging ideas on the economy. I’m not so sure that there is indeed a male dominance in this field among my generation, those ceilings have been shattered and the way has been paved for young women like me to be economic professionals.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face as a young, female economic analyst?
A: To be honest I cannot say that I have faced any challenges as a consequence of my being female or young so far. But it is a new day for women in any profession, the corporate culture that once prescribed suffering in silence is crumbling as can be seen from the #metoo movement and strides are being taken in the developed world to make work more conducive for mothers which means we’re most likely due for similar reforms. As such I’m quite optimistic about my future as a female professional.
Q: Is there a particular dress code that you adhere to in your profession?
A: At my work place we are required to dress formally, basically whatever one wears must be clean and decent. I personally love colour so I keep it “professionally bright.”
Q: What are some of the techniques you use to ensure your analysis of economic matters is taken seriously?
A: Well, we are in the business of giving an informed opinion. So that’s the key – being informed. One can never know everything but it’s good to try to observe trends and patterns because an economy does move in cycles and those patterns can provide a basis for one’s opinion. It’s also good to look beyond our borders, to understand how we might be affected by regional/global happenings and to also get ideas on the effects of certain events/policies based on the outcomes in other countries.
Q: What message do you have for the youth, particularly girls, wishing to pursue a career as an economic analyst?
A: My advice would be “Drugs aren’t cool. Stay in school” (LOL). On a serious note… Economics is an objectively interesting field of study if I must say so myself. It is incredibly dynamic and that’s what I enjoy about it. It takes a curious mind and an expressive nature to walk this path. Research will always feature in this line of work so aside from economics, literature and history might help with honing critical thinking skills. Public speaking and debating will help with presentation skills.
Last but definitely not least is mathematics/calculus which is extremely important because every economics theory can be expressed as an equation and a lot of the time the numerical representation is easier to understand and remember.
Academics aside, perseverance will go a long way not just in your studies but also in the working world – it’s amazing what humans can achieve when they refuse to give up.