Jiří Poláček, born in Prague, finished his master studies at the IES in 2014. A year after the graduation he managed to get his PhDr. title here. During his studies at the IES Jiří spent an Erasmus stay in Italy at the University of Bologna and he gained experience in the Advanced Risk Management company, where he was auditing models of credit and market risk.
But Jiří does not only deal with Economics. When finishing his first year at the IES, Jiří began to study opera singing and acting at the Prague Conservatoire and he graduated here in 2015. During his studies of opera singing he successfully participated in several singing competitions, he was awarded first prize in the competition of Bohuslav Martinů, the Mozartian Dušek competition, or in the contest of Conservatories in Pardubice. He performed, for example, as Podkolesin in The Mariagge of Bohuslav Martinů in the Theatre of J.K.Tyla in Pilsen or as Count Baccelone in Gassman’s La Contessina in Český Krumlov. Currently he sings the role of Masetto in Mozart's opera Don Giovanni in Prague Estates Theatre. Jiří also participates in the project of the Prague State Opera for children where he performs the role of Papageno in Mozart's Magic Flute or Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen.
In addition to his artistic career Jiří remains loyal to his original profession. He combines his artistic ambitions with his economic education. Right after the graduation from the IES, Jiří started to work in GE Money Bank at the position of Scoring Analyst and since this year, he works here as a Model Governance Analyst.
Besides singing he enjoys theater, literature and traveling.
Jiří, you started to study at the Conservatoire after finishing your first year at the IES.
What led a student of economics to apply for studies of opera singing?
That was definitely caused by the course Mathematics I. I started to study solo singing during high school; however after the final exams I gave the priority to something which seemed to be more practical at that moment – to economics. Nevertheless I spent the whole first semester of my university studies dealing with mathematics (not very successfully that time). This was the moment when I realized I did not want to live a life full of abstract definitions and proofs and that I need my life to be more colorful and less quantitatively based. So I submitted my application to the Prague Conservatoire, where I was successfully admitted. Retrospectively, that was the best decision I could have done. I have received an excellent education in economics but I enjoyed a number of extraordinary musical experiences as well. I should therefore thank to Mathematics I.
In the bank you focus mainly on statistical models. Does it build on your research that you conducted within your thesis, or is it something completely different?
In principle it does, but not directly. In the bank, I focus on validations of statistical models in various model areas (Credit Risk, Market Risk, Collections or for example ALM). My work therefore covers a wide range of different model types and different methodologies, so I need to be able to assess whether the selected methodological approach is well-chosen and if it is applied correctly. In practice, this means that if I come across to a novel methodology, which I have never dealt with in past, I have to go through the similar process, which is in its essence similar to writing a thesis: in a short time I have to become familiar with the methodology, verify its applicability on real data and then assess whether the model is constructed properly. Every day I benefit from the knowledge and skills that I acquired primarily thanks to the courses of Jozef Baruník and Lukáš Vácha.
What do you enjoy most about working in a bank? Have you ever thought about devoting your career only to singing?
What I like about my job is that I can further develop my interest in applied econometrics. I like that I do not follow any repetitive monthly routines, but I constantly learn something new and I can further develop professionally. At the same time, I have the opportunity to work with a number of smart and inspiring colleagues. To answer your second question, yes, I have thought about it. However, currently I am absolutely satisfied with the composition of my work life. Essentially, music is an integral part of my life. On the other hand, I can hardly imagine devoting my whole life only to music. The same holds for my work in a bank. I enjoy diversity and being able to focus on both careers brings me a great joy. Besides, working in a bank brings more stable income compared to singing.
You are busy working double working shift, how do you handle that? Is there something what reliably recharges your batteries? How do you relax?
I learned to organize my time during my studies and that is the reason why I was able to handle the studies at the IES and at the Conservatoire at the same time. Nevertheless, it is true that I get into extremely stressful situations quite often: for example, my first solo appearance on the opera stage of Theatre of J. K. Tyl in Pilsen (beginning at 19:00) was preceded by an exam from the History of Economic Thought (starting at 15.00). On the other hand, due to the fact that the banking career has so little in common with singing, focusing on both provides me a perfect relaxation. I think that music is a great way to clear your head after a hard day at work. At the same time, I could not focus on singing if my employer Moneta Money Bank didn’t support me greatly and didn’t provide me the time flexibility. So to answer the question, I handle it pretty well.
What are your plans during Christmas season? Do you plan a concert somewhere, or are you going to purely relax?
For me, Christmas season is traditionally a ‘marathon’ of Jakub Jan Ryba's "Czech Christmas Masses". Therefore, during the Christmas time, I will not rest for sure. Let me use this opportunity and invite readers of this interview to my favorite production of this Czech Christmas Mass which is traditionally performed open-air on 23rd of December at 3 p.m. right next to the Charles Bridge on Kampa square. This event is special in deed, as everybody who comes can sing with us. Only the conductor, organist and soloists are confirmed in advance and I am really proud to be one of them.