This profile was part of the Faculty of Public Affairs’ Generation FPA series, which highlighted up and coming alumni who graduated between 2008-2018. The series was published in 2018.
Scott P. Bacon is an Analyst-Economist at Statistics Canada, and Infantry Officer with the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, Canadian Armed Forces.
Scott, your initial plan was to study Philosophy. What led you to major in Economics as well?
I always had a passion for Mathematics, but when I discovered Philosophy, all other pursuits seemed less important. By chance, I sat in on a few Economics classes my girlfriend was taking, and soon after added Economics as my second major. By doing so I retained my interest in numeracy, as well as improved my analytical reasoning and argumentative writing with Philosophy. It seemed like the best of both worlds to me!
Was there an advantage to doing both?
Oh absolutely, on the practical side of things, Economics is a far more marketable degree than Philosophy, and for those with a mathematical bent, Economics provides many opportunities to hone your skills. Philosophy, for its part, often aided my economic reasoning by informing its logic through critical thinking. Moreover, the argumentative skills Philosophy demanded transferred well into Economics assignments that relied on both mathematical rigor and the logical presentation of one’s assumptions, deductions and conclusions.
What attracted you to the Master’s degree?
I loved the faculty and staff in the Department of Economics. I spent days in that department—there was such a sense of belonging. Ultimately, the graduate administrator, Marge Brooks, talked me into applying for the MA. The value of the degree really became apparent when I started applying for jobs. I landed interviews all around town, as well as overseas very rapidly. Similarly, the opportunities I had as a teaching assistant, and later as a research assistant, led to highly rewarding opportunities when I left university.
What does your job entail?
My chief profession is as an Analyst-Economist, within the Data Exploration and Integration Lab for the Centre for Special Business Projects at Statistics Canada. It entails conducting research projects involving data. For instance, a client may want to attract investment in some sector in Canada, and so they hire us to determine how many industry clusters (think “Silicon Valleys”) there are across Canada. We then network within Statistics Canada to identify the correct data and human resources to bring together, derive the appropriate indicators at select geographies, and produce an analytical product for our client.
How did your education prepare you?
By encouraging me to network with colleagues, meet assignment deadlines, and compete for opportunities, my education prepared me for life after university. Practically speaking, the personal skills I developed while networking on campus carried over well in working with others at Statistics Canada. Moreover, the analytical skills I learned transferred well in working with databases and reading technical econometrics papers written by my peers. Being both numerate and literate has really helped me stand out, and I am very grateful for my education in providing me these two wonderfully symbiotic skillsets.
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