MSc IPE graduate Mitch Hayes shared his thoughts with us about his time at LSE and his current studies and experience in China-Latin America relations.
Why did you decide to study the MSc International Political Economy?
After working at a hedge fund in New York and as a political/economic advisor to the Consul General at the US Consulate in Sydney, I realised that what I loved most was analysing the intersection of politics and economics, and what that means for governments and businesses. The LSE’s IPE course was the perfect fit for me, because I could tailor it just as I wanted to pivot to a career as a political risk analyst and advisor.
You recently launched a newsletter, The China Signal, which covers China’s growing interests in Latin America. What’s your own background in this area?
After graduating from LSE, I worked as former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s advisor at the Asia Society in New York. I was constantly analysing China’s political and economic developments throughout the world. Yet throughout frequent visits to Colombia with my wife to spend time with her family, I was surprised at how little awareness and understanding there was of China’s growing role in Latin America. When I couldn’t find a dedicated resource that presented and analysed major China-Latin America developments in a balanced way, I decided to create The China Signal.
Could you explain why China-Latin America relations are important to keep an eye on – for those both within and outside of those regions?
Latin America’s economic and political relationship with China has grown substantially during the Trump era. China sees strategic opportunity in the region given its complex history with the United States, and via the economic and diplomatic openings presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ten years ago there was a lot of attention dedicated to China’s interests in Africa. In Latin America, China is deploying an evolved playbook, yet they’re doing so in a region and a time where the geopolitical stakes are much higher.
What is your biggest take-away from your time at LSE? (whether this is academic, philosophical, or resource-based is totally up to you)
My year at LSE was one of the best years of my life. My wife and I both took the year off to study, and after working for a few years, I could really appreciate what a privilege it was to study a topic I am truly passionate about. I knew exactly what I wanted from the program, and in the process made life-long friends with my fellow students and professors. I’m so glad I also took advantage of LSE’s sporting clubs, competing for the cross country and athletics running teams throughout London!
What advice would you give to our current students, who are currently studying online, and many of whom will be graduating into a very different world than they expected to?
Keep making the effort to connect and get to know your classmates and professors, even though it’s a little harder to do so. Stronger bonds are formed in times of adversity, and you will reap the benefits of these connections for a lifetime once you graduate! Study hard, but more importantly understand why you’re studying, and what you will do with this experience. If you don’t know why, now is the time to find an answer, with the help of your friends and professors.
Mitch is willing to chat with any current or recent students on career advice, the job market in New York or Australia, or anything else.
You can contact Mitch via his website mitchlhayes.com.
Read or subscribe to the weekly newsletter The China Signal.
Read and subscribe to Mitch’s newsletter Mundo which covers broader issues from a political risk perspective.