Sandile Hlatshwayo: “These are historic times, and they need a historic response”

A personal journey of macroeconomic curiosity has led UC Berkeley alum Sandile Hlatshwayo Ph.D. ’17 to the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) as a senior economist. Hlatshwayo is covering the international portfolio during her year at CEA, which advises the president on trade, inflation, employment, supply chains, and other top economic issues. She is on a temporary leave from the International Monetary Fund, where she began working in 2017.

Hlatshwayo’s career trajectory began with an “econ origin story,” as she calls it, which stemmed from growing up in suburban Ohio and often visiting family in South Africa and Brooklyn, New York. She wondered why those three places were so different, why there was inequality within each community, and why immigrant groups often congregated around specific cities. Her interest in exploring those questions eventually led her west to Berkeley.

“I loved my time at Cal,” said Hlatshwayo. “Number one, you were getting this world-class education. And, number two, the people — professors, administrators, my fellow students — were thoughtful, cared about the policy impact of their work, and were incredibly generous with their time. It was a beautiful environment to study within.”

“I remember Sandile as one of the most original and energetic students I have advised,” said Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, UC Berkeley’s Edward G. and Nancy S. Jordan Professor of Economics. “I am not at all surprised by her success at the International Monetary Fund and now her recruitment by the Council of Economic Advisers, where I am sure she will have an impressive impact on national policy.”

When Hlatshwayo looks back at her time at Berkeley, she has fond memories of watching the sun set over the Bay as her cohort worked on problem sets late into the night and eating lots of Cheeseboard pizza, which she considers to be among the best in the country. Luckily for her, there is also a strong alumni network in Washington, D.C.

Sandile Hlatshwayo (Photo by Valerie Szybala)

Sandile Hlatshwayo (Photo by Valerie Szybala)