Alumnus instrumental in bringing together economics and the Great Barrier Reef

Emily Hayward Griffith Business School Sustainability
Emily Hayward.

Griffith University alumnus Emily Hayward always knew she loved economics. What she didn’t know was how useful her Sustainable Enterprise major in Business would be in tackling one of the world’s most challenging problems — how to save the Great Barrier Reef.

As an economist at the industry leading firm Deloitte Access Economics, Emily credits her time in the Griffith Business School as a major driving force behind her love for environmental economics.

“Griffith opened my eyes up to how economics can be used to create meaningful change in a number of different ways” she explains. “This really showed me how economics can provide robust arguments in support of environmental protection, which motivated my internship at an environmental consulting firm and subsequently led to my honours thesis in environmental economics.”

Emily has since worked on several high-profile projects, including the At What Price? Economic, Social and Icon Value of the Great Barrier Reef report. The motivation behind the report was to showcase the Reef’s value in order to elevate its significance in decision making. “My honors thesis was on non-market valuation, so valuing the Great Barrier Reef was really a dream project”.

“Since completing the Great Barrier Reef report, I have been given the opportunity to work across various subject matters. Every project I’ve worked on since starting at Deloitte Access Economics has been to create meaningful change,” she says.

Emily says her involvement with the internship program offered by Griffith Business School helped both inspire her thesis and get her foot in the door at Deloitte Access Economics. She started at the economics firm a mere one week after she handed in her honours thesis.

“An internship is the most important thing you can do while studying,” she says. “To stand out in interviews you have to have relevant work experience, which could be an internship, tutoring or research assistant work … Relevant experience puts weight behind your resume. Your grades prove that you know the theory, but your experience in the field proves that you understand the application.”

The Griffith Business School graduate explains how her internship and Griffith experience led to her developing skills relevant to her current role. “The project I worked on for my internship involved finding non-market values that were used in a cost-benefit analysis to support practices that improved water quality,” she explains. “The results were hypothetical as there was no proven link between changes in water quality and changes in recreation demand, so when I decided to undertake honours, I decided to establish this link using non-market valuation techniques.”

“I used the travel-cost method in my thesis, which helped me develop skills in survey design, data collection and econometrics, which I then applied to the Great Barrier Reef report.”

“The pathway I followed during my studies was particularly motivated by the lecturers that acted like mentors to me.” Emily advises students to try a bit of everything in their foundational year of a business degree to really hone in on their career calling.

“Find something that you’re passionate about, like a particular area of economics or business and run with it. When I was doing my interview at Deloitte Access Economics I got to talk about environmental economics and the interviewer said being able to hear how passionate I was really set me apart from the other candidates.”