An Economist at AECOM, Engeline says her MPP skills have been invaluable in her infrastructure-based consulting work.
Headshot of Natasia Engeline
Natasia Engeline

Having witnessed scenes of extreme wealth inequality while growing up in her hometown of Jakarta, Indonesia, Natasia Engeline believes that financial security should be prioritized because of how it can influence people’s lives. “In Indonesia, if you are born into a low-income family, you are essentially disadvantaged at birth. Upward social mobility is difficult to achieve.”

After earning her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Indonesia, Engeline promptly enrolled at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology to pursue a master’s degree in financial engineering. She went Bank Indonesia (BI) after graduation, first as a financial analyst for the Reserve Management Department and eventually being promoted to a managerial position where she was part of a team responsible for formulating asset allocation for Indonesia’s foreign exchange reserves. After seven years at BI, Engeline pivoted to the private sector and began working for Ernst and Young Indonesia, where she worked with the Indonesian government to coordinate foreign investment projects.

Even with her extensive financial markets experience, Engeline realized the Master of Public Policy at Harris would be an invaluable asset. “I had always wondered why policies that would help people were rejected, and policies that should have been doomed to fail got passed. Harris,” Engeline said, “provided the toolkit for me to understand not only what constitutes a ‘good policy,’ but how to make it persuasive enough to pass.”

Her first year at Harris, she said, was transformative. “I appreciated learning about political economy through the Core curriculum in Professor Ethan Bueno de Mesquita’s course. And through Professor Steven Durlauf’s course, Social Interactions and Inequality, I gained a much better understanding of how our social networks affect our decision-making through a combination of game and network theory. Both courses taught me about the intricacies of policy and the actors at play.”

In addition to her coursework, Engeline said she also learned from her participation in Harris Student Organizations, including Harris Community Action. “Through Harris Community Action, I assisted in coordinating the strategic plan for Chicago NORML, a cannabis advocacy organization. Working in that role helped me learn about the cannabis industry, which I didn’t know anything about before.” 

Engeline said the support of the Harris community definitely helped make her time at Harris a success. “The professors were always extremely responsive when I had questions, and I have made some good friends in my problem set groups. Plus, the Career Development Office (CDO) coaching sessions helped me review my resume and cover letters, as well as practice mock interviews."

Her visits with the CDO, Engeline said, contributed to her securing two part-time internships in the summer of 2021. "For my internship with the East West Center in Washington, DC, I conducted research on U.S.-Asia relations. I also interned at AECOM, an economic advisory firm whose work centers around infrastructure projects." 

After completing the MPP, Engeline returned to AECOM as an Economist, where she does infrastructure-based consulting. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work on projects ranging from managing an affordable housing project here in Chicago to coordinating a resiliency strategy in Texas. Most of the work we do revolves around economic redevelopment. I really enjoy this type of work because it allows me to learn across a variety of disciplines.”

Engeline said the data skills she picked up through the MPP have helped her tremendously in this role. “Knowing how to use APIs and machine learning makes the research process so much more efficient and also helps us to not burn our budget by spending too much time on data collection and analysis.”