New South Wales

Meet your NSW Councillors

The ESA NSW Branch Council for 2018/2019 is confirmed as below.


Belinda Cheung, Councillor

Belinda Cheung is a Manager at the Reserve Bank of Australia. Belinda holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Economics (Honours) from the University of Sydney, and a Master of Economics from the University of New South Wales. As an economic policy wonk, Belinda is keen to spread the message that a career in economics means doing work that matters, and involves a fair amount of storytelling and mythbusting.

Luke Crowther, Councillor

Luke Crowther has been part of the Young Economist Network (YEN) over the past year and a co-organiser of the YEN Mentoring Program. Luke works as a Consultant in the Infrastructure Advisory team at Ernst & Young. He graduated from a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) and Bachelor of Finance at the Australian National University, with a particular focus on theoretical microeconomics, including contract theory and trade theory. Luke is passionate about economics education and assisting those new to the field to better understand career paths in economics. Outside work Luke enjoys trying to learn the guitar, playing tennis or supporting his AFL team North Melbourne (despite not winning much).

David Fair, Councillor

David Fair was previously the Treasurer of ESA NSW.  He is an experienced infrastructure, natural resources and energy corporate adviser where he has provided financial and strategic advice to both the public and private sector with particular experience in M&A transactions, corporate debt refinancing and project finance modelling. David enjoys spending his time sailing and is an certified Advanced Open Water Diver.

Gigi Foster, VP Academic

Gigi Foster is an Associate Professor with the School of Economics at the University of New South Wales Business School, having received her BA from Yale, majoring in Ethics, Politics, and Economics, and her PhD in Economics from the University of Maryland.  She works in many literatures, including education, social influence, behavioral economics, lab experiments, and time use. With support from multiple competitive grants from the Australian Research Council and other bodies, she has written a broad behavioral-economics treatise with Cambridge University Press (An Economic Theory of Greed, Love, Groups, and Networks, CUP 2013, joint with Paul Frijters), compiled a volume of papers in household economics with Palgrave (The Economics of Multitasking, Palgrave-Macmillan 2016, jointly edited with Charlene Kalenkoski) and has published work with many coauthors in a wide variety of economic and multidisciplinary outlets, including Journal of Public EconomicsQuantitative Economics, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Human Relations, and Journal of Economic Psychology.  Her work related to education, behavioural economics, and Australian policy has appeared in national and international media outlets and informed public debates, and her award-winning teaching features strategic innovation, interactivity, and integration with research. She has served the profession in a variety of roles including as ARC Expert Assessor, as a member of the National Economics Learning Standards working party (, as one of the most prolific female economist contributors to The Conversation in Australia, and as the most junior female member of Australia’s National Economic Panel (

Leila Fourie, VP Business

Leila Fourie is the Vice President for NSW ESA Council and is CEO of Australian Payments Network. Leila has a PhD in Economic and Financial Sciences. Her PhD thesis covered sovereign credit rating contagion. Leila’s Masters’ Thesis proved credit procyclicality in bank lending and won the Founders’ award in 2012 for best Masters Economics thesis in the country by Economic Society South Africa. Leila has published numerous articles in peer review journals and is widely experienced internationally in financial markets including capital markets, risk, payments and retail banking. Over the course of her career, Leila has served on multiple boards. Prior to her current CEO role, she served on the listed company board of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange as Executive Director and has also served as Chairman on the board of Diners Club and Board Member on Discover’s Chicago-based Diners Club International Advisory board. In her spare time, Leila climbs high altitude mountains, plays piano and enjoys spending time with her family.

Pip Freebairn, Councillor

Pip Freebairn joined the Australian Bankers Association as Associate Director, Economics and Industry Policy in April 2016 covering economics and emerging financial technologies. Pip provides analysis, advice and advocacy for the banking industry and contributes to the development of public policy on banking and other financial services. She has broad experience covering economics and public policy, including as an economist for the Reserve Bank and Macquarie Bank, as a journalist at the Australian Financial Review in the Canberra Press Gallery, as well as advising a Federal Treasurer. She has a first-class honours degree in Economics and an Arts degree from UNSW, and journalism degree from UTS. Pip also serves as the NSW Chair of the Women in Economics Network and sits on the national committee of the WEN.

Nicki Hutley, Councillor

Nicki Hutley is a highly experienced economist, with more years than she cares to admit to, firstly in financial markets and then, over the past decade, in economic consulting working with government across most policy portfolios.  As a new member of the ESA Council, Nicki hopes her real world experience will prove helpful to support the ESA in sparking policy debate and in engaging a broad membership. My personal mission is to bring an understanding of economics to a much wider part of the Australian electorate. When work and family allow, Nicki is an avid reader, cat lover, nature photographer and traveller.

Rachel Krust, Councillor

Rachel Krust is currently an Associate at the Boston Consulting Group. She holds a Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Sydney, and has a particular interest in public sector work and public policy. Outside of work, Rachel enjoys playing netball, running and reading.

Jess Mizrahi, Councillor

Jess Mizrahi  is currently an Associate Director at Deloitte Access Economics, where she provides practical policy advice and thought leadership for industry and government clients. She has guided projects in a range of industries, with deep experience in financial services, the digital economy, telecommunications and media.  She has extensive experience in economic and social policy, strategy and analysis. Jessica was a finalist for Deloitte Young Businesswoman of the Year in 2015, and previously taught economics to over 300 students at the University of New South Wales.

Paul Oslington, Councillor

Paul Oslington is Professor of Economics and Dean of Business at Alphacrucis College, He was previously Associate Professor of Economics at University of New South Wales, and held visiting appointments at University of Oxford, University of British Columbia, and Princeton Theological Seminary and University. He is Vice-President Academic of the Economic Society (NSW Branch).  Professor Oslington works on international trade, labour markets and the history and philosophy of economics. He is an international leader in the emerging interdisciplinary field of economics and religion. Publications include the books The Theory of International Trade and Unemployment (Elgar), Economics and Religion (Elgar), Adam Smith as Theologian (Routledge), Political Economy as Natural Theology (Routledge), Oxford Handbook of Christianity and Economics (OUP), an edition of Jacob Viner‘s The Customs Union Issue (OUP) as well as articles in Economic Record, Australian Economic Papers, Australian Journal of Labour Economics, Economics Letters, World Economy, Review of International Economics, History of Economics Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought and History of Political Economy.

Kaixin Owyong, Councillor

Kaixin Owyong is an economist at the NAB.  She recently graduated from the University of Melbourne with Honours in Economics, where she specialised in applied microeconometrics. During her time at university she taught economics, both for the university and at one of its residential colleges, while being active within its student societies. Outside of economics, Kaixin has a passion for politics and latin dance.

Michael Read, Secretary

Michael Read is an analyst at the Reserve Bank of Australia. He has also worked at the University of Sydney and the Commonwealth of Australia whilst completing his undergraduate economics degree. Within the field of economics, Michael’s interests include monetary policy, international economics, and the history of economic thought. Michael enjoys spending his time skiing and planning his next holiday.

Peter Rickards, Treasurer

Peter Rickards is an economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia. Prior to joining the Bank, Peter worked in investment banking (Credit Suisse). He graduated from the University of New South Wales with Honours in Economics. During his time at UNSW he taught economics and continues to do so. Within the field of economics, Peter’s interests include monetary economics, economic history and behavioural economics. In his spare time, Peter enjoys travelling and playing sport.

Penny Smith, President

Penny Smith is currently Head of Households and National Accounts Section in Economic Analysis Department at the Reserve Bank of Australia. She has a PhD from the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Western Australia. Since joining the RBA in 2009, Penny has held various positions in Financial Stability Department (most recently as acting Deputy Head), Economic Research Department and International Department. She has also represented the Bank on international financial stability policy committees, including the FSB Resolution Steering Group. Prior to joining the Bank, Penny worked in commercial banking (Westpac) and academia (University of Melbourne). Her research has been published in a number of peer reviewed journals including the Journal of Applied Econometrics, the B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics and the Economic Record as well as various industry publications. Outside of economics, Penny has represented Australia in Fencing (Epee). These days she enjoys running (slowly) and skiing.

Robert Smith, Councillor

Robert Smith has been a member of the Economic Society of Australia for over 20 years and on the NSW council for eight. He is the Principal Consulting Economist at East Economics and has a background in management consulting, banking and finance, infrastructure and energy.  Robert’s experience covers economic evaluation, economic policy & regulation, market design, demand management, industry analysis, forecasting and performance improvement. He is passionate about using economics to find creative, efficient, and practical solutions described by clear and compelling narratives.  Robert’s other interests include technology and innovation, mentalism, ocean swimming and freediving.

Howard Zhang, Councillor

Howard Zhang is a consultant at Sapere Research Group where he conducts economic research to inform strategies and policies. He provides advice on a range of areas, including economic development strategies, costs and benefits of state investments, regulatory economics and devising mechanisms for resource allocation. Prior to becoming a consultant, he taught economics in the University of Sydney, where he also received a PhD for his work in strategic behaviour models. Outside of work, Howard enjoys reading, travelling and having interesting conversations.


New South Wales

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