Petra Vokatá (May 2019)


Petra Vokata recently accepted an appointment as an Assistant Professor at the Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University. 

Petra was born and raised in Prague. She is a graduate of the IES, where she received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, while at the same time working as a team leader in an e-commerce startup. After graduation from the IES, she continued with doctoral studies at Aalto University, School of Business, where she has recently defended her dissertation titled “Essays on Financial Innovation”. During her doctoral studies, she spent a research visit at the University of California, Berkeley and participated at a summer school at Yale University.

She spends her free time outdoors with her husband, Mika, and their border terrier, Kira.


What do you remember from the IES, what did you enjoy most? Which subject?

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about IES are the math courses. They were not only fun, but also provided a great foundation for PhD studies. Micro was very useful as well. Some parts of the PhD level micro at Aalto were not far from the Master’s level micro at IES, which allowed me to focus instead on specialized PhD courses, such as a behavioral economics course with David Laibson from the Harvard University. I should note that I very much enjoyed working on the bachelor’s and master’s thesis. I learned a lot from my advisor, Jirka Novak, who also played a key role in my transition to a PhD program.

You spent a research visit at Berkeley. How was it to study at such a prestigious university? Did you find some important difference between the US and the European universities?

In general, the environment at US universities is more research intensive compared to Europe. There is also a stark difference in the attitude towards PhD students. At Aalto, there is little distance between PhD students and professors, who often interact on a daily basis, whereas US universities tend to be more hierarchical. On the other hand, Berkeley attracts top scholars, and I have greatly benefited from many conversations with them.

You are currently finishing your doctoral studies in Finland, why did you choose Finland?

I chose Aalto University, School of Business, because I was fascinated by the unique quality of data on stock market investors available in Finland. I wanted to work with Matti Keloharju, my advisor, who has published a number of highly cited papers using the data. In addition, Aalto has an excellent PhD program and good track record in placing PhD students in assistant professor positions at the top international universities.

What specifically do you specialize in your research?

Broadly speaking, my research lies at the intersection of household finance, financial innovation, and asset pricing. Lately, I have focused on packaged derivative products and financial fraud.

This year, you joined the job fair in Atlanta, how does this event look like? Does it require some special preparation?

Academic jobs in Finance are well paid with starting salaries of around $ 300,000. The job market is therefore highly competitive and PhD students, in essence, spend 5-6 years to prepare for it. The first step of the hiring process, typically a 30-minute interviews with groups of professors, are organized during the American Finance Association Annual Meeting (this year held in Atlanta). Successful candidates are then invited for a campus visit during which they give a seminar and meet faculty members. The best performers are then extended an offer and eventually hired as assistant professors.

How do you relax?

I relax by spending time outdoors with my husband, Mika, and our border terrier, Kira.












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