Tomáš Matyska, was born in Jindřichův Hradec, completed his bachelor's degree at the IES in 2011, and then began his joint master's studies at the IES and Cerge-EI. In 2014, he finished his university studies and started to work exclusively at the bank ČSOB. Here he worked already during his studies in the Customer Insight Division. In January 2015, however, Tomas moved within the Group to KBC and has been living in Leuven, Belgium, since then. He has worked his way up from a data analyst position to the senior position he holds now.
In his spare time, Tomáš enjoys cycling and travelling.
Tomáš, your career is about data. How would you proceed now if you had the opportunity to rejoin the IES again and already had an idea of what career path you would take?
I probably wouldn't change much. The advantage of the IES is that it gives a good theoretical basis, whether it is mathematics, or statistics and econometrics, which are important in data analysis.
If I were to focus on something else in my studies, it would be definitely the basics of programming. The ability to use programming languages, especially python, is nowadays a standard for data scientists.
What about online education, it is common for data analysts to improve and expand their knowledge just by taking online courses. Is college -university important for a data analyst?
University is important, because it provides a comprehensive education, which is the foundation. Recently, it is more and more common to meet candidates for the position of data scientist who have very specific and detailed knowledge of, for example, neural networks, but lack the general basics of how algorithms such as decision trees or logistic regression work. But this knowledge is important and allows flexibility in solving different kinds of problems.
Of course, one must keep learning new trends in order to be able to apply them and use them to solve particular problems and for this the various online courses are suitable.
And last but not least, I learn new things and technologies at work. My colleagues and I share our knowledge and insights internally, as we work on different problems and use different methods and techniques. And we generally follow trends and the latest technologies to keep the pace with the newest them in order to stay on the top.
You are now working at KBC, in Belgium, your way there was through CSOB. Was the transfer within the "mother" and "daughter" challenging? What should those interested in a similar experience prepare for? Do you see your future elsewhere within the Group, or are you happy to be based in Belgium?
I had the advantage that I came to Belgium as an expat, so the bank helped me with a lot of things like housing. However, moving to a new country is always a challenge and you have to be prepared for the fact that every environment, even if it is within one group, has its own specificities. Personally, I would suggest foreign experience to everyone since it broadens your horizons and bring new experience. So if I come back to the first question I would try to study abroad for some time as a student.I have been in Belgium for almost 7 years and I am very happy here, so I do not plan to go anywhere else within the group. Our team at KBC is unique because it is very diverse. And this is both in terms of education, where our colleagues are physicists, software engineers or even sociologists, or nationality, where we have colleagues from all over the world, from Japan to Colombia.
You now manage a team of employees, how much has the job changed compared to your early days as an analyst? What now forms the core of your work?
When I started, I worked on specific projects where I was responsible for their execution.
As a team leader, I was mainly responsible for coordinating the project together with my colleagues from business and IT, capacity planning and agreeing within the team how to handle which projects. One of the important aspects is to solve any problems together with the data scientists, IT and business so that we can reach a common solution.
The second important component is of course the mentoring of the team members. This means giving feedback, helping them grow and discussing problems and possible approaches with them. It is important to gradually enable them to work on more complex problems so that they become more mature.
Recently, I am much more in the position of trying to implement solutions from one country group in other countries (KBC is present in Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Ireland, in addition to Belgium and the Czech Republic). Amongst other it means to define the data model and data processing together with IT colleagues, to standardize the approach to developing and deploying the model and finally to coordinate the capacities of data scientists from different countries so that we are able to deploy the solution effectively.
I am also currently responsible for the recruitment process for the Belgian team. So if any of the students would like to start their career with us, they can certainly contact me.
The biggest challenge with data from your perspective? Is there something you want to work on, something you are attracted to, interested in, a new trend?
If we talk about certain specific problems, I've been trying to get closer to unstructured data (text, images) lately and learn how to work with them, because this has a great future and a great field of use.
As far as general trends are concerned, it is cloud computing, which more and more companies are following, and even at KBC we are looking in this direction.
What about hobbies, what do you do in your spare time? Is the work-life balance at bank satisfactory?
I can't complain about work-life balance. I have got the feeling that in Belgium and in KBC, there is quite a lot of emphasis on it. And even though our team is specific, and we often have a lot of work, I always find time to relax.
Mostly I go cycling alone or with colleagues, although I haven't yet fallen into road cycling, which is almost a national sport in Belgium. Just now in September there was the world road cycling championship in Flanders and the road race ended in Leuven. This was a big event and the whole country followed it and people supported their riders.
And when I am not cycling, I like traveling and photographing.