A photo of Nicolas

Nicolas Padula Pinho

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I’m Nic, a second-year student from Brazil. I've lived in 4 countries from 3 different continents in less than 20 years. At Uni, you'll find me at a library, in a lecture, or running an academic society. I am the president and founder of Leeds Think Tank, a student-led social science research group, a strategy director at Leeds Community Consulting, a student consulting group, a Student Trustee for the Leeds University Union, and secretary of Rotaract, a community service group.

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

I have been in love with the PPE degree since I first heard about it. I loved its flexibility, allowing me to lean towards or away from each subject as I learn more about them. Leeds offered a wide range of interesting optional modules and ranked well for all three subjects covered by my degree. Finally, LUU is ranked as one of the best student unions in the country, which means that the support and range of activities available are of very high quality.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

Being a teen in Brazil from 2014 to 2021 meant a daily dose of "Operation Car Wash" news, one of the largest corruption scandals of all time. This fed a daily talk about economics and politics, morality, the role of governments, and justice. I carried that baggage as I moved to the United States and then again to Switzerland. Through the moves, I got to understand the importance of philosophy in guiding governments, the importance of accountability in political institutions, and the importance of a healthy economy for a country's well-being. I grew to be passionate about them as I understood how crucial those pillars are for collective success. I've been using the skills I picked up in my course to try to influence them with my think tank.

What aspects of the course do you enjoy the most?  

The course helped me adopt, develop, and question a wide range of mental models to make sense of social structures and relations. I enjoy how seminars push me to look at relevant real-world issues with both a qualitative and quantitative (in economics seminars) lens, making me a better decision-maker and a more persuasive writer and speaker. 

What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?

Absolutely incredible. Modern buildings, technical support, good IT, excellent libraries. The list could go on forever. 

Have you worked closely with a particular tutor or member of the University's academic staff? Tell us about that experience

I've been lucky to have Jessica Isserow, the PPE course director, as my personal tutor. She's always been there to answer my academic questions, write recommendation letters when I needed them, and support me when starting my Think Tank. Tadeusz Gwiazdowski, a former PPE student who teaches some Economics modules, has also been a big help, connecting me with our Head of Research and planning shared events.
The think tank also has six incredible academics who volunteered their time over the December break to review our research. They were all excited to help out from the get-go. I'm nothing short of grateful for the encouragement and support I’ve encountered from the academic staff in Leeds.

What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself?

So many. I have friends in Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Debate, Consulting, Investment and Trading, and many other societies. There are more than 300 on campus! Rotaract was my only society in my first year, and it was a very nice experience! I even got a free day trip to Scarborough. Even if you don't find a society that suits you, you can start one! That's what I did in year 2, and we got 79 members within the first month of term.

What do you plan to do when you’ve finished your course, and how do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed so far at Leeds will help with these plans?

I am not sure. I planned to develop valuable skills that interested me and then see where it would take me. At present, that seems to be a summer internship at a bank. Hopefully, I will enjoy it and receive an offer for their Graduate Scheme. I am sure that the writing, critical thinking, communication, and interpersonal skills I developed in Leeds will help me in whatever career I decide to take. Of course, the harder skills I learned in Economics, like Excel and statistical analysis, will translate more directly to my role at the bank.  

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

I would ask them three questions in return: "Are you passionate about the degree? Are the usual careers that PPE graduates go into of any interest to you? Are you disciplined to manage your own study time?". If they answer yes at least two times, they should definitely apply! You can always learn the discipline through the degree. And when they get in, join my Think Tank, of course.