On his role as an investment analyst and data
Eric Tawney, MPP '14


Northern suburb of Detroit, Michigan


Investment Analyst, BlackRock


Dual BS in finance and economics from Oakland University

"Harris provides access to learn and study under some of the brightest minds in academia, business, and government and created unique engagement opportunities to put coursework into practice."

Something that the Harris School asks prospective students to deeply consider is “why policy” and offers its own answer. For Eric Tawney, why policy?

Policy is about relationships; understanding the interconnected nature of the world and shaping strategies to catalyze positive changes in society. I, personally, have always been fascinated with economic policy, specifically at the intersection of capital markets. How do you create policies that promote economic growth, social inclusion, and rising living standards? What financing mechanisms can you build to attract private capital to a public project? What is the optimal intersection between fiscal and monetary policy? These questions are complex and multi-faceted. There are no simple or right answers, but the challenge of working through those questions energizes me.

Why get a graduate degree in public policy?

Having attained a master’s of public policy, I have frameworks and tools that I use to formulate responses to complex issues in a deeper and more thoughtful way. The graduate degree in public policy offers an opportunity to step outside of narrow disciplines and learn from and amongst a diverse group of incredibly bright and talented people. I grew significantly as an individual through the friendships I developed and perspectives I gained from my peers. I now have a network across geographies of colleagues in a variety of professional disciplines that I utilize to stay connected to global issues and apply to my personal and professional pursuits.  

You were a competitive candidate with a lot of options. What about Harris Public Policy made it stand out from the pack?

My strategy for graduate school was to develop deeper analytical skills to address and understand challenges and opportunities within public policy. Harris marketed itself as a rigorous policy program (I would argue it’s the most rigorous policy program in the country),that was well integrated into the university system. Attending Harris provided me the opportunity to combine my policy studies with significant coursework and seminars in the Booth School of Business and Law School. This cross-disciplined academic approach allowed me to craft my policy degree in a way that was individualized and most beneficial to the career goals I wanted to pursue.

How has Harris helped you make your mark on the world?

After graduating from Harris, I joined BlackRock as an investment analyst within the firm’s Global Fixed Income platform. I provide primary and secondary market credit research on state and local, healthcare and project finance debt securities. My role involves supporting fund managers investing on behalf of institutions throughout the world that depend on us to be stewards of their capital. This requires detailed financial analysis and meetings with management teams, investment bankers, and rating agencies across the US to determine risks and opportunities within each investment decision. In a role that would traditionally be viewed for an MBA versus an MPP graduate, my policy background has offered a unique perspective and approach to the investment process that has provided value for my team and our clients.  

 In your view, what make Harris Public Policy unique?

Harris provides a unique opportunity to grow as a thought leader. From the moment I started the program, there was an understood expectation to continually develop and challenge notions of my environment. Harris provides access to learn and study under some of the brightest minds in academia, business, and government and created unique engagement opportunities to put coursework into practice. I graduated the Harris program with the confidence that I had the foundation necessary to make significant impact wherever I chose to pursue my career.

 A major US election just happened and the results did not align with much of the polling. A Politico article cited Republican strategist Mike Murphy saying, “data died tonight.” What do you think of that assessment?

Data is not dead, but the traditional methods of polling may be. The quality of an output is only as great as your input. The US election results were unexpected, but maybe they shouldn’t be so surprising. Consider Brexit. Just this past summer, UK voters caught many off-guard in their decision to approve an exit from the EU. Political movements and shifts in sentiment happening in the US and abroad are uncharted and conventional polling frameworks are failing to capture it. The world is dynamic and data analysis needs to match that dynamism.

 Describe the city of Chicago in three words. 

 Energy. Challenge. Opportunity.

 What about Hyde Park as a community? One word.