I started with fairly theoretical questions and gradually moved to more applied ones, and I learned how to ask and change questions, and how to collaborate on complex research projects.
Dhani Setyawan (Indonesia)
PhD Economics

Australia Awards scholar Dhani Setyawan talks about his experience studying a PhD at VU.

“I am very proud of my VU education. My time at Victoria University, specifically at the Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies (VISES), was both enriching and enjoyable. The faculty are leaders in the field and are extremely devoted to helping their students succeed and develop into the best researchers they can be.

“As a PhD student at VU, I had a significant degree of freedom to find my own path, which was particularly useful given my somewhat atypical background. I started with fairly theoretical questions and gradually moved to more applied ones, and I learned how to ask and change questions, and how to collaborate on complex research projects. I have learned to think in terms of what might be analytically possible, and I can start visualising methods to achieve those possibilities. I really enjoyed my time at VU. It was a lot of work, but the opportunities I had, the friendships I made, and the experiences I had, made it all worthwhile. Perhaps more importantly though, it allowed me to establish a set of great friends, some of whom also became close research collaborators.”

Dhani’s PhD supervisor was Professor Peter Sheehan, Founding Director of VISES and currently its Research Director. He has made substantial contributions to studies on the global knowledge economy, new technologies and the commercialisation of such technologies. He has long been involved in the health sector and biomedical industries and he has undertaken studies in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Population Fund. Professor Sheehan has also conducted studies on energy and climate change in China.

Dhani’s PhD thesis – Energy Intensity in Indonesia: Four Empirical Studies with Policy Implications – is on changing trends in energy intensity in Indonesia relative to its ASEAN neighbours. His aim was to improve understanding of changes in energy use and energy intensity in key industries across Indonesia’s 34 provinces. “This work has interesting and exciting applications in identifying lessons about the future direction of energy policies in Indonesia,” says Dhani.

In Indonesia, Dhani is the Head of Planning and Monitoring Policy Analysis in the Centre of Regional and Bilateral Policy in the Ministry of Finance. "I am now working again in the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia. Here, I conduct research and lead a small team of analysts generally tasked to conduct monitoring of policy recommendations and to inform strategic and operational decisions.

I can honestly say that the VU environment changed my life – and certainly for the better. Overall, my time at VU helped me realise what I am capable of accomplishing.

VISES is located within the Institute for Sustainable Industries & Liveable Cities (ISILC). It focuses on the study of the economic, social and technological changes that are recasting the global economy and aims to develop effective policy responses to them.