Vladimír Nahodil comes from Prague and graduated from the IES in 2017. During his bachelor's studies, he not only passed a study stay in Durham, England, but also completed a one-year internship at Procter and Gamble. He finished his master's degree at Cambridge, where he studied Economics and Finance. After graduating, he joined the Swiss bank UBS in Zurich as a data analyst, where he still works. In addition to work and study, Vladimír is very active, he passed the first level of CFA exams, chaired the student association at the IES E-club and successfully participated in the McKinsey & Company Solve It! 2016 or CFA Institute Research Challenge 2015. In his free time he enjoys sports, reading or exploring Switzerland with his girlfriend.
You successfully studied in Cambridge. What was the most difficult thing for you when moving to this prestigious school? The admission process itself, mastering the study, some culture shock or something completely different? Is there anything that surprised you a lot?
Overall, I think I owe big time to IES for a smooth transition to studies in Cambridge. The theoretical background in mathematics, econometrics and economic theories proved to be crucial for success, especially in the first semester. Moreover, I was lucky enough to spend one year of Bachelors in Durham in the UK on an Erasmus programme, which is a university with a similar collegiate structure as Oxford and Cambridge and where local “Geordies” also well tested my comprehension of English and its various accents.
But to answer the question – the most stressful part for me was definitely the financing; my studies there wouldn’t be possible without a support from scholarships and a postgraduate loan from the UK government. I can only recommend to future applicants to stay resilient, deal with the amount of paperwork and stay positive if any failures arise. It can all work out in the end and you will get an experience and friends for a lifetime!
You work as a data analyst for UBS in Zurich, what is your job about – do you coding a lot, or is you position rather managerial? What is your usual working day?
I work in Client Analytics in the asset management division of UBS. We focus on bringing the data from various internal systems and related analytics much closer to the front line in a form of self-service tools. We mostly code in R and Python and because the widespread use of these languages is fairly new and because they bring massive efficiency gains over legacy processes, we are a team of younger employees with a global outreach both within Sales and Investments, which is quite exciting and makes every day a bit different.
We also spend a lot of time together outside of working hours, which is not quite common in Switzerland. I have to mention our typical lunch breaks consisting of a run through the parks finished with a swim in the Lake Zurich or in the Limmat river. It is a great way to refresh yourself before the afternoon dose of data-crunching.
UBS is the largest Swiss bank, how did it operate during the "coronavirus" era? Did they introduced some special measures, apart from home offices, which I assume were common in such institution…
Although the Swiss government reacted fairly slowly to the outbreak, we moved to home office basically with the first confirmed cases in Switzerland and haven’t officially returned to the offices since. We are in a “split operations” mode – where only half of each team is allowed to enter the office every other week.
Overall, I believe this will have a substantial effect going forward – banks used to be very hesitant to allow home office at all; now, when it became a new standard and everything runs quite smoothly with improved work-life balance for majority of employees, I don’t think we’ll ever turn back to 100% office work.
Before that you worked for Procter and Gamble for about a year. What is the work in the fast-moving consumer goods sector? Is it different from your current job, or do all companies deal with basically the same things?
I worked in Sales Finance for the CZ&SK department of P&G. It was a function for the local market, where my main role was to control and discuss budgeting and to forecast the results of local Sales teams, each representing one of our customers (think local large retailers). In UBS, the number of clients is much larger, making the function a bit more detached from the day-to day business.
The main difference though is the development of employees. FMCG companies and P&G specifically focuses on growing you as a manager with transferrable skills since the very beginning; rotations across different departments and countries are a mandatory part of employment there. In UBS, you grow as a specialist within your role.
But for analysts, although you look at different measures of success, the data-digging part mostly is the same, disregarding if the goods are physical or more virtual. All in all, the most visible difference is in the end in company benefits (endless supply of drug store products in P&G vs cheaper mortgages in UBS).
You studied in Great Britain, now you work in Switzerland, how do enjoy you living abroad, what is most pleasant for you here and vice versa? Do you think that one day in the future you will return to the Czech Republic permanently?
I cannot speak about the overall quality of life in the UK because I lived in a “social bubble” of two small university cities. But if there is one thing I would like to point out about Cambridge, it would be the enthusiasm of all students towards their studies and the willingness to constructively challenge opinions of others on almost any topic, which made some late night discussions over a pint of beer quite heated (but always in a good spirit).
I must say I really enjoy Switzerland though – everything just works and feels safe. People are less stressed and can also enjoy their free time while being respectful and polite towards others which I sometimes miss back home.
However, even with all its faults, I still find the Czech Republic and Prague to be my home. Nothing can beat seeing your friends and family and sharing our specific sense of humour. I would definitely like to come back in few years – but luckily Zurich is not that far until then!
How do you spend your free time, what are your hobbies?
I live with my girlfriend Mária, who is also an IES alumni and moved to a Master programme in Banking and Finance at the University of Zurich. We try to spend a lot of time outdoor with many possibilities here in Zurich for bike trips and hiking, also thanks to the great and dense public transport system.
I also clear my head doing all kinds of sports, from football and basketball to tennis and badminton. Last but not least, I quite closely follow technology news and enjoy reading overall – I recently dug deep into books on history of humankind – I can only recommend A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson – a great introduction into the evolution of scientific exploration!