Proust Questionnaire: Oliver de Groot

Oliver de Groot
Illustration: Beatrice Herman

The Saint’s version of Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire kicks off with economics lecturer Oliver de Groot.

Illustration: Beatrice Herman
Illustration: Beatrice Herman

The Saint: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Oliver de Groot: Getting into bed, a freshly made bed.

What is your current state of mind? Stressed. I should be preparing lecture slides and not doing questionnaires.

Which talent would you most like to have? Being able to remember song lyrics and lines from films.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Still to come.

What is the quality you most like in a professor? Bad jokes.

What is the quality you most like in a student? I like all students that are interested in learning.

Who was your favourite teacher/ professor and why? Professor Sean Holly at Cambridge. He tried to crack so many jokes and never got a laugh. That was hilarious in itself. He was also a great lecturer and kindled my interest in monetary policy.

What are you currently researching? That’s top secret – I don’t trust people not to steal my ideas any more.

Which person in your field do you most admire? Ben Bernanke – to be a great academic and policy maker is truly extraordinary. I hope he wins the Noble Prize one day.

What inspired you to pursue your current career? Too lazy to apply for investment banking jobs and read the ‘Companies and Markets’ section of The Financial Times.

When did you know what you wanted to do in life? I still don’t.

What has been your favorite experience as a lecturer? Lecturing in front of 230 students. I pretend everybody has been queuing for hours just to come and see me lecture.

What has been your most challenging experience as a lecturer? Forgetting all my slides. Free-styling for an hour is more challenging than you think.

If you could not work in your current field, what would you do instead? Solve the Collatz conjecture.

If you could fix one problem in the world, what would it be? As a macroeconomist, experiencing a financial crisis unfold is awesome. I want to experience it again. The problem is crises are not so good for society. I want to fix the world of financial crises. Not sure I can have both, though.

What is the best piece of advice anyone has given you? Be entrepreneurial. Not sure it’s the best advice – I’ve just been given it – but I’m testing it out…

What is your motto? Go for it.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Anywhere I haven’t been yet. The Western Isles are currently top of the list.

What are you currently reading? How to Train Your Dragon and Fat Cat on a Mat. Now guess the age of my kids.

What book should everybody read at least once? Americana [by Chimanmanda Ngozi Adichie].


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