Ondřej Vychodil (April 2017)

Ondřej Vychodil comes from Most, and graduated from the IES in 1999. For his bachelor thesis he received the Josef Hlávka Foundation Award. Afterwards he did his Master’s at the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, and later, in 2002, moved back to IES to obtain his PhDr.. However he started his doctoral studies at CERGE-EI. His Ph.D. studies ended with a defense of dissertation on economics of bankruptcy law. As part of his dissertation research, he did a semester internship at Harvard, and then, during his work at ČSOB a managerial Inter-Alfa Banking Program, at the French INSEAD. As a lecturer, he worked as an Assistant Professor at IES for professor Kouba, he introduced the subjects of the New Institutional Economics II. and Theory of Organization. At the Robert Schuman University in Strasbourg and at the Anglo-American University in Prague he led his compact courses with a focus on economic transition. Amongst others, it is worth mentioning the book Privatization without Capital (Karolinum 2002), which he wrote together with Prof. Karel Kouba and Jitka Roberts.

Since March 2017, Ondřej has been the Executive Director of Finance at ČSOB. He joined the Bank in 2006 as a Director of Investor Relations, followed briefly by the Communications Unit, and has been the Head of Strategy and Development for the last four years. Prior to joining ČSOB, he worked for example as an external consultant to the World Bank, and in 2004-2005 as the advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Martin Jahn.

Ondřej and his wife have three children, so he spends his time mostly with his family, but also with his music group Legendary Buccaneers, where he plays drums and sings for more than ten years.

 

 

Ondro, the IES was at the imaginary start of your "study career". What has influenced you the most and what would you like to highlight here as a determining factor for your further career development?

At high school I was interested in mathematics, social affairs and English and when I applied for the bachelor studies at the IES in 1996, I did not know what was waiting for me. Already the application exams amazed me as there was a broad scope of knowledge which was expected from the applicants (unlike the simplistic tests at VŠE). During the first months of the IES studies, I gradually fell for economics as a social science. We learned to understand what was happening around us at that moment. It was at that time when privatization was over, the new capitalists like Kožený or Kelner were born, self-proclaimed liberals in power argued that it was not good to privatize banks (which eventually happened around 2000) and that the newly established capital market did not need independent supervision (Securities Exchange Commission was formed only in 1998). There were political disputes over the fact whether tunnellers were tunnellers, and into this the experience of other countries with transition was getting together as a mosaic. Inspired by the lectures of professors Kouba, Půlpán, Mlčoch, Mejsřík and others, we founded the student E-club as a platform for discussions. There, we invited former, current and future ministers of the Czech government, CNB governors or foreign economists. We typically continued after the lectures with our guests or just by ourselves in discussions while drinking beer in a pub close by, so Professor Kouba gave us the nickname the Beer Gang. Those three years at IES, it was an intense quantum of all sorts of ideas and critical thoughts I've been carrying since.

After IES you headed to the Central European University in Budapest. Currently there are attacks on universities from Orban government in Hungary. How do you look at this situation? Surely it stirs up your emotions...

In Budapest, my horizons were continuously widening further. I explored events in other countries of the region - thanks to both, lectures and “beer sessions”, or rather “Hungarian wine sessions” with Romanians, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Slovaks, Poles, Russians and Ukrainians. CEU is an amazing place. There are different nationalities from the CEE region, and they found that the common heritage of Austria-Hungary inevitably continued to form the region in a very special way. And there are also various disciplines of social sciences which meet at CEU - from economics to political science, international relations and law, to history, studies of nationalism, and gender studies. Imagine being in a dining hall for lunch. You are at the table with people of five different nationalities studying five different disciplines but all of them have a deep interest in transforming society from totalitarian democracy into democracy. I am watching with great concern the attack on the CEU that Orbán’s government has done. I am convinced that the CEU will survive, but it will leave scars. It is not certain that it will not have to move anywhere else, which would be a huge loss for the Hungarian society. (After all, CEU had already experienced that. In the first half of the 1990s, due to the unsupportiveness of Klaus’s government, it moved from its original home in Prague to Budapest.) On the other hand, the current situation contributes to the awakening of the Hungarians, or at least the Budapesters when we are looking at ongoing Demonstrations. The Western world could also wake up by this stimulus, and head up to Orban’s more totalitarian regime in a more principal and sharp way.

In ČSOB you have gone through a number of positions, you have recently been appointed the Chief Financial Officer at ČSOB. How do you perceive development in banking, did the bank's "climate" change significantly since you have started to work there in 2006?

Yes, the situation has changed quite fundamentally. In 2006, when I joined ČSOB, the dust from the completed privatization of the Czech banking sector was hardly settled down. Mortgage business was still in its infancy. Total loans provided to Czech households and companies were at less than half of today levels and margins were almost double of those today. In 2009, the financial crisis shaked with the whole world and the sector was concerned mainly with CDOs, CDSs or sovereign risk. In recent years, the main topic of financial services has been the digitization. We observe changes in the behavior of clients and new global players such as Facebook, Google, Apple or Amazon are entering the game. Interest rates are extremely low and all these factors mean the need to change the business model.

You have also been involved in research, you worked as a research assistant for several years. What did you focus on in your research?

In the bachelor thesis I tried to design a theoretical model of the dependence on the degree of restructuring and subsequent performance of Czech enterprises on the form in which they were privatized. With this topic I continued at the CEU, where I have moved this research further, I studied more existing literature on this subject and empirically examined the dependence on real business data. However, this empirical survey did not focus on the forms of privatization, but on the concentration of ownership. It turned out that the higher the concentration, the better, but somewhere between 20 and 50 percent of the concentration, on the other hand, performance was weaker. This can be explained by the fact that these were the companies, where the tunneling took place by those owners who had controlling but not a majority share. During doctoral studies, I participated in a number of case studies of companies during transition, but together with my ex-classmates from IES I dealt with the case of the rise and fall of Investment and Postal Savings Bank (IPB) and its related industrial empire. And then I focused mainly on law and economics, namely the economics of bankruptcy. That's what I did at Harvard and in my dissertation. I utilized that insight when working for Martin Jahn at the Office of the Government on the insolvency law reform that took place in 2008. That was a great experience.

What are your hobbies? Do you have a recipe for perfect relaxation from work-related stress?

I spend most of my free time with my family. I have a great wife and three children aged from three to ten and I do not want to let their childhood and adolescence slip me away. Besides, since my childhood I dedicate a lot to music, I played the clarinet and later I started with the drums. And now it's been twelve years since we set up a band called Legendary Buccaneers with my friends, in which I play drums and sing. We are regularly participating in a great music festival in Romanian Banat (I personally recommend!). We have already released one album and we enjoyed what it is like to hear ourselves on Radio 1. Currently we are releasing a brand new single and in one year the second album could come into being.  

 

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