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Re: Applying in 2-3 years. Any advice to improve profile?
If you are interested in applied economics maybe you could check out strategic management (although I think everyone should .. ) - the job market is much better than econ and you can work on a lot of similar problems
The "flagship" journal for this field would be Strategic Management Journal -- you can take a look at some articles and see if you'd be interested.
2-3 years is plenty of time. I would 1) try to reconnect with professors from your master's (the closer to your future specialization, the better). But another avenue could be potentially leveraging your current position in a bank: it is not uncommon for banks to share some data for research -- if you could access an interesting database that you could use in collaboration with a professor on a research project that would be great preparation for a PhD plus give you a a recommendation letter or two. That would take some balancing on both sides: 1) getting permission from the bank 2) finding a professor that would be a good fit to work with <- both of these things mean you;'d need to come up with an idea of what field you want to work in IMO