The Profile of a Lucky Economist

Allen Sykes is an Englishman who spent his formative years in the United States and developed a deep interest in America's history, geography, politics, and literature. He has worked for major international companies, often taking him to the United States, and holds a multidisciplinary degree from the London School of Economics. With a background in economics, he worked in management consulting, focusing on financial analysis, inflation, and complex capital spending projects. His primary career has been in the international mining and energy industry, particularly dealing with challenging capital spending projects. He has a passion for problem-solving and enjoys documenting his insights in articles and books to share with a broader audience.

Allen Sykes: Englishman who's had the great good advantage during the years of eight to 13 to have been brought up in the United States and to end up in outstanding schools. And from that I acquired a...

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Allen Sykes: Englishman who's had the great good advantage during the years of eight to 13 to have been brought up in the United States and to end up in outstanding schools. And from that I acquired a deep interest and love of America and its history in geography, politics, literature, et cetera, which has stayed with me all my life.

I've been lucky enough to work for major international companies and frequently took me to the United States, working there, working with American companies, as well as many other parts of the world.

My background: I'm an economist, but I did a very multidisciplinary degree at the London School of Economics. History, politics, philosophy, law, administration, accountancy all of those were studied, and most of my career I seemed to be employed on problems which a wide view of many different disciplines turned out to be a useful advantage.

I worked originally as management trainee and a management consultant, using economic principles in Unilever on their problems, the youngest member of a very gifted group, which is probably where I learned my main understanding of business and what needed to be done. I developed with one of my fellow economists at Unilever.

I was one of the pioneers of advanced financial analysis and management in this country, and it's spread abroad and we wrote several of the major standard works on the subject. We did the same on inflation, accounting, and subjects of that kind. We developed a great interest in projects and capital spending, particularly difficult and risky capital spending.

And I found my natural home was in the international mining industry, which had those kinds of problems. My co-author, Tony Merritt, found exactly the same in the international oil industry. So I've worked most of my life in mining and energy and large projects with Spell in the City, some management consultancy, ending up as one of the managing directors of another big international mining company, Consolidated Goldfields.

That's my main background. I have always found an interest in problems. I've always enjoyed, after solving problems, putting it down on paper, either in articles or books to test them out against tougher audiences than you often find in business. I like to take my toolbox, if you like, and generalize it's.

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Allen Sykes
Freelance Consultant
Consolidated Gold Fields

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