Dominika Katuščáková, born in Prešov, Slovakia, studied at the IES in both the Bachelor's and Master's programmes. In 2013, she received the B.A. with distinction from the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences for an excellent state-final examination performance and for an extraordinarily good bachelors diploma thesis. In her bachelors thesis "Central Bank Transparency and Price Stability", under the supervision of Prof. Roman Horváth, Dominika investigated the central bank transparency. Dominika started working part-time during her master's studies as a Risk Management Expert at J&T Bank. After graduation, she moved to Tianjin, China, where she worked at Home Credit China as a Predictive Modelling Expert and Risk Analytics Manager in 2016-2019. In 2020, Dominika relocated to Hong Kong. She spent her sabbatical there working on her own e-commerce project. In March 2022, she joined online platform Foodpanda, where she is currently working as an Experience Analytics Manager. In her free time, Dominika enjoys travelling, yoga and exploring Hong Kong’s hiking trails.
Your studies in the Bachelor's programme at the IES were topped off with a commendation from the Dean for your outstanding performance in the state exams and for your excellent Bachelor's thesis. How do you reflect on this period?
I am very fond of these memories. The atmosphere at the IES is very vibrant, it is a great place where people of different backgrounds, personalities and life goals meet. I think the IES prepares you for an extensive range of jobs in future. The reason is that it teaches you not only technical skills but also how to effectively operate in the workplace. The fact that IES was rather small in terms of the number of students back when I had been studying there, results in a casual atmosphere and helps the students to form deeper bonds.
I enjoyed working on my Bachelor’s thesis. I discovered my passion for data analytics during that time. Collecting a bunch of numbers which would mean very little for most people and translating them into insights and real-life recommendations is very satisfying. I carried this passion to the present day.
You also completed your Master's degree at IES. How did the final stage of your university studies benefit your career?
It gave me the benefit all students wish for, I would say - it got me my first job in the field I studied. One of my professors noticed me and offered me a job.
I consider it extremely important that the schedule of the Master’s programme allows students to work part-time. The school is a great place to acquire knowledge but you need a place where you can employ this knowledge. Also, it teaches you, often the hard way, how to be more effective as you have way more tasks to complete in the same amount of time.
Your career path after graduation led you to Tianjin, China. You worked as a Predictive Modelling Expert and Risk Analytics Manager at Home Credit China. What challenges did you face in this job?
Having my first full-time job in a country that is so different in all aspects was definitely challenging itself. I had to assimilate into local culture, language and food and all that while coping with the challenges of a new and very first full-time job. However, the Home Credit community helped to make my first months as smooth as possible and China was feeling like home after a surprisingly short period.
In this company, I grew from an analytical position where I was in charge of my tasks only, to a managerial one where I supervised over 10 experts. I must say this is the biggest transition one can experience in a career journey. I had to learn to delegate tasks but at the same time, I was responsible for the quality and accuracy of all tasks performed by my team. This was by far the most challenging task I faced.
You've been living and working in Hong Kong for the past two years, you've also spent your sabbatical here and your professional life is now connected to the online platform Foodpanda. What is your job there and what are you currently working on?
At Foodpanda, I am part of the Experience team. The team makes sure our customers and our vendors have the best possible experience. This job is a little different from my previous positions. All my previous jobs were data analytics positions with a very clearly defined scope. At Foodpanda, while I still work with data, it is not my primary focus. I get to spend much more time being the advocate for customers and vendors within the company covering all possible aspects. I am also coordinating many different projects focused on improving the experience throughout the whole organization.
How do you enjoy living in Hong Kong? Have you experienced any cultural surprises there? What aspects of Hong Kong culture have you found easy to get used to? How is the Hong Kong work culture?
Hong Kong is a great and very specific place. When you think about it, with more than 7.5 million people living in the area of two Pragues I don’t think living in Hong Kong is comparable to anything else. Despite that, or maybe because of that, living in Hong Kong is very efficient and convenient. Everything is nearby - and that is what I love about Hong Kong. You have a downtown with the most exquisite restaurants and bars in the world, beautiful beaches, extensive country parks and traditional fishermen villages, all within 45 minutes of your home. I also admire how people of so many nationalities can live together smoothly. Everybody found their place in Hong Kong and everybody is bringing a little piece of their culture and together they are making this place amazing.
What surprised me the most is the way how Hong Kong people treat their pets. It is very expensive and not easy to have a kid in Hong Kong. So many people are having pets instead. You actually see more pet strollers than baby strollers on the streets. The businesses are using this opportunity and you can find luxurious pet salons or even restaurants where your furry baby can have a steak.
Everything I mentioned above translates into the work culture as well. Employees here are extremely efficient and the work pace is fast. The lunches are usually takeaways eaten at the office because restaurants are too small to accommodate all people coming out for lunch.
I noticed on social media that you are fond of travelling. What country charmed you the most? And do you have a dream place you'd like to visit?
The most charming place I visited is definitely Bali. Having spent most of my life in big cities, I was fascinated by how seamlessly local people were able to interconnect architecture and nature. Moreover, the friendliness of locals in combination with their amazing food is making the time spent there unforgettable. Remembering all that, it actually makes me want to go back immediately.
But before that, I would like to visit one of the few countries in Asia I haven’t been to yet - Japan. After the Covid rules were relaxed recently, this is the destination where Hongkongers would flock. I heard great things about their famous hospitality, especially onsens. And I want to test if sushi really tastes the best there.