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‘Business is personal’ drives Alexander Bick’s mentoring approach

Faculty Sketch

When we think about our jobs, many of us at W. P. Carey point to relationships as being some of the most important work we do. Whether with students or each other, our business is personal approach takes a front seat. Alexander Bick, associate professor of economics, is no different. “When I think about what I’m most proud of professionally, I think about the PhD students I have worked with. Watching them grow from the beginning of the program into their own independent researchers is really special.”

Bick knows the importance of this kind of mentoring. His road to W. P. Carey began as an assistant professor in Germany, when he spent a fall visiting the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis. While there, Bick met Ed Prescott, professor in the W. P. Carey Department of Economics. Bick was invited to give a talk at ASU and immediately felt comfortable here. A position opened up and he officially joined the department in 2012. “I’m so honored to be a part of this department. My colleagues are just fantastic, and while we have different research interests, we share a similar approach to our work,” Bick says.

Bick is also proud of his recent work on unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic. The survey, which asks people about their employment status and data, is timelier and more frequent than government unemployment data, and has been cited in The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, The New York Times, and more. “It is often difficult to explain our research to people who are not in academia or economics,” Bick explains, “but with this particular data, we can easily show the importance of our work and how it relates to the public.”

When did you decide you wanted to be a professor?

It grew slowly throughout my time in undergrad. I had some professors that were really inspiring and clearly explained the impacts of economic policies. That made me want to pursue a PhD, but I didn’t know if I would be a professor or work for an institution like a central bank or government office. But then I really enjoyed the research and decided to pursue the professor track. It’s worked out great for me – I am really enjoying it.

What was your very first job and what did it teach you?

It was delivering newspapers, and it was tough. I had to go out in all kinds of bad weather. It taught me hard work and responsibility, I suppose – or at least that is what they told 14-year-old me it would do!

What is your favorite spot on ASU’s campus?

I think Palm Walk, but not during passing time when it is crazy busy. When class is in session and I need a break, I like to walk there.

If you could choose any other career, what would you pick?

I think I would be an engineer — perhaps an environmental engineer focused on energy use. I’m from Germany and everyone thinks about cars. I would be interested in making cars more energy efficient, decreasing pollution, that kind of thing.

If you could choose to visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I would like to go to Africa on a safari. All of the animals in nature, in their real habitat, I would really like to see.

Same question, but reverse. What’s your favorite place you’ve already been?

I would say Hawaii. So beautiful.

What are some things you like doing outside of work?

Spending time with my son, who is almost two. Spending time with him and my wife is my favorite thing. I also like to go rock climbing, and spend a lot of time (not during the pandemic) at the Phoenix Rock Gym near campus.

Where is your hometown and what is it known for?

I am from Hofheim, near Frankfurt, in Germany. It has a really beautiful, historic city center. The buildings are from the 15th century but have been well maintained. There are fun shops, cafes, and bars around the square. I planned to spend the summer there, but am of course now staying home and staying safe.

Salty or sweet? Sweet

Coffee or tea? Tea

Cat or dog? Dog

Board games or video games? Board games

Book or movie? Book

Mac or PC? Mac

Morning person or night owl? Morning person

Hot or cold? Hot

On time or late? On time