Helle Stensbak works for The Confederation of Vocational Unions (YS).
Why did you choose to study economics?
My university background was from law and sociology, but when I applied for jobs, the lack of economics became a weakness.
Missing economic understanding was like missing front teeth - you can’t bite properly without it. So I went back to university and chose the toughest economics degree I could find.
What do you think were the most important factors for being offered the job?
I got my current job solely because of professional competence. You have to be an economist in order to be able to do the job as chief economist in a main confederation for the working community.
What are your tasks in your current job?
I give advice on wage formation and economic policy matters. It consists of sitting in the Technical Calculation Committee for Revenue Settlements (TBU) and other public committees.
I am closely following the macroeconomic situation in Norway and our trading partners, and advise on areas with high macroeconomic impact, such as the pension system.
How do you make use of your education in your job?
I use it in everything I do, this job is applied economics.
What are your previous jobs?
I have worked for the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway (Finanstilsynet).
Do you have any career advice for Master's students?
Learn to apply the knowledge contained in the models. Try to tackle a political problem and discuss policy recommendations with other economists based on the insights we get from models and empirical analyses. Do some gymnastics with the subject. A competent employer will ask you about applications of theory, and that makes the employer likely to be interesting to work for.
(The interview was originally conducted in Norwegian, and is translated to English).