Lucie Hozík finished her undergraduate degree at the Institute of Economic Studies in 2008. She enrolled in a Master's course at IES and spent a year at the University of Bonn as an Erasmus student. At this point, Lucie was awarded a scholarship to continue her studies at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva where she completed her masters degree in 2011.
I suppose the IES led you somewhere during your studies, how do you perceive it now, have your former expectations met then? What would you say was the most important thing at the IES for your current job?
Once I got over the shock of Mathematics I, the quantitative rigour grew on me and I even ended up taking the optional Mathematics V just for the fun of it (I know!). So naturally, while I was still studying, I did see myself as following a career in academia or research in the private sector. Therefore, it may come as surprise that I chose a job where the most involved calculations involve percentages – and I love it.
You completed the Master's degree in Switzerland, but you started one at the IES too. Was the Swiss approach somehow different?
I did start my Masters degree at IES but spent the whole year in Bonn as an Erasmus exchange student and from there I moved to Geneva to do a masters degree in International Economics. I did see a difference but I think it was more related to the transition between an undegraduate and graduate school. On technical level, what I learnt in Mathematics and Microeconomics at IES was more than sufficient to carry me through. However, the small class sizes and assignments during the semester meant that I had to spend a lot of time in the library to make sure I was prepared for class discussions.
You have been working for HSBC for nearly 6 years now. Within the company, you moved from Switzerland to Great Britain. How would you evaluate your career development? Is there a change in a working climate in the same company, but in different countries?
I started in Switzerland on a grad scheme, which was a great way to get to see how the bank works and test which role would be the best fit for me. In reality, I knew what I wanted to do from the first week when an Investment Counsellor talked with us about her job. I then first worked in management team where we looked after the investment product strategy for the private bank globally. This role was a great training ground for running projects and it also gave me an insight into how the business works and how the investment process runs front to back. But as I said, I wanted to work directly with clients so I moved to my current role after passing the last CFA exam. The client I meet are endlesly fascinating and earning and maintaining their trust is what keeps me going.
In the UK, you also volunteer in a local school's financial literacy program, what exactly is it about?
We partner up with local schools to deliver short financial literacy workshops. I come in as a volunteer to talk with a small group of students about personal finance and budgeting, financing university, what makes something a good investment and what is happening around the world and how it affects them. During the last year, we had a lot of questions on Brexit, why the pound is falling in value and how it is linked to prices in the supermarkets. There is more income inequality in London compared to what I am used to from Prague. Unfortunately some skills that we take for granted do not come as a given to everyone. So we try to contribute a little bit to our local community and also always have a great time – the students are curious and always have a lot of surprising and wonderful questions.
In your spare time, you are engaged in creative activities, but you did mention a rather unusual hobby of sculpture, how did you get into it and what material do you actually work with?
Art is something that I loved as a kid but then it somehow fell by the wayside. I picked it up again a year ago and started drawing. I started with a couple of courses, then realised the human figure is more fascinating than still life and from there I developed a habit of going to life drawing sessions. London gives a lot of options for a bit of creativity, so if I decide to go and draw tonight, I can just find a place and show up. I wanted to expand from there so I spent two weekends in April at the Glasgow School of Art – first doing painting and then clay sculpture. So the sculpture course was an extension of what I normally do. I am now doing an evening painting course and already eyeing a summer school for July...maybe portraits...?
Looking back at my time since I graduated in IES, if there is one thing I would like to share with current students: look for a job that plays to your skills and that you can get excited about. Ignore what is expected of you or what looks good or pays the best because you have a long professional life ahead and you’ll do much better in a job that you actually enjoy. Good luck!