"Political Risk Analysis in Practice" with Mujtaba Rahman

Alexander Maichel

On 18 February, Association for Political Risk Analysis (APRA) held an online event with Eurasia Group’s Managing Director for Europe, Mr. Mujtaba Rahman. In the roughly one-hour long talk, Mr. Rahman not only shared some insights about working at the leading political risk consultancy in the world, but also provided the audience with valuable advice on how to start a successful career in this exciting field.

Mr. Rahman began his remarks by giving students a broad overview of Eurasia Group’s business model. As a consultancy, the organisation’s prime aim is to help clients deal with political risk so that they can optimise their business operations. He thereby distinguished between two types of clients: On one side, there are financial market participants, who are mostly interested in short-term risks as they need to make determinations almost every hour. On the other side, however, Eurasia Group also works with corporates, which are primarily concerned with long-term risks in the countries they work or invest in.

Following Mr. Rahman’s introductory remarks, there was ample time for a Q&A session with the audience. Participants’ questions were particularly centered around the skills needed to become a political risk analyst. Here, Mr. Rahman repeatedly emphasised the importance of being able to think analytically and coherently about the world. Especially when it comes to entry-level positions, excellent analytical skills are what makes a successful candidate stand out. He encouraged participants to stay on top of the news and, instead of passively consuming them, to actively engage with the content and situate oneself in the debate.

However, as analysts move up the latter or apply to more senior-level posts, Mr. Rahman pointed out that country-specific or regional expertise becomes increasingly important. In practice, this often means having a network of trusted contacts – politicians, civil servants, academics, etc – senior staff may rely on to develop their analyses. Even though language skills are of huge importance as well, he remarked that they are far from essential – he himself had been working on Greece and Turkey without speaking the languages at all. In any case, Mr. Rahman emphasized that Eurasia Group’s different departments were in constant collaboration and information-exchange with each other; he singled out the organisation’s Global Macro initiative, which consists of analysts from different teams trying to identify the dominant macro-level trends in the international arena.

Other questions from participants focused on more content-related topics such as the prospects for Mario Draghi’s new government in Italy, the impact of the Navalny affair in Russia, the current situation surrounding Belarus or Eurasia Group’s work during the global pandemic. With regards to the latter, he finished by arguing that Eurasia Group thrives on risks, which is why the past year has been particularly interesting as a political risk analyst.

Alexander Maichel is Editor of APRA's Think Tank Team.

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