Alessandra Guariglia: "if you want to achieve something in life, you need to work hard"
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Alessandra Guariglia is professor of financial economics at Durham Business School in the UK. She is also an expert on China, its economy, its financial system and investments and has played a key role in the creation of joint masters and undergraduate programmes with several Chinese universities, including the Central University for Economics and Finance in Beijing.

Prior to joining Durham, Prof Guariglia worked at the universities of Essex, Kent and Nottingham in the UK. She has a masters degree and a PhD and enjoys hiking in her spare time.

1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

As head of two departments, I line manage several young researchers. This involves acting as a mentor. The most rewarding aspect of this is seeing some of them thrive as a result.

2. Who are your business heroes?

I admire many who have been able to reconcile academic enterprise and business. One example is Professor David Greenaway (vice-chancellor at Nottingham) who foresaw the importance of China in the world of education. He consolidated the presence of the University of Nottingham at Ningbo and entered talks with the government in Shanghai to develop a second Chinese campus.

3. What would you do if you were dean for the day?

I would appoint an associate dean for internationalisation. I believe that internationalisation is key for the development of an institution and a person dedicated to this is absolutely essential in any top business school.

4. What academic achievement are you most proud of?

I am most proud of having published the paper Financial Factors and Exporting Decisions (with D. Greenaway and R. Kneller), in the Journal of International Economics in 2007. Our main finding in the paper is that participation in export markets strongly improves the financial health of UK companies.

5. What is the worst job you have ever had?

The worst job I ever had was when I was a junior employee in the economic research department of a bank in Rome, my home town. I had just obtained my undergraduate degree in economics but the job consisted mainly in making photocopies and writing summaries of policy reports.

6. What advice would you give to women in business?

I would give the same advice to men and women in business: if you want to achieve something in life, you need to work hard.

7. What is the last book you read?

The Vagrants by Yiyun Li, which describes the life of several people in late 1970s China, when Beijing was dominated by an anti-Communist movement. I liked this book; knowing more about the China of the past has enabled me to better understand the China of the present.

8. How do you deal with pressure?

I deal with pressure by not getting overly emotionally involved with work-related things and by making the time to spend 75 minutes in the gym every day.

9. If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?

I would perhaps have chosen a tougher PhD supervisor and been more ambitious with my doctoral dissertation.

10. What is your earliest memory of school?

When I started primary school at the Lycée Français in New York, I was six years old and did not speak a word of French. As soon as we arrived at the school, a test fire drill sounded and we were all asked to quickly get out of the building. The school principal was standing at the door shouting: “Allez vite, vite, vite” (“get out fast, fast, fast”), so the first word I learned in French was “vite”. Perhaps this is why, since then, I have always been rushing through life.

Compiled by Charlotte Clarke

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