Tomáš Houška says that doctoral studies will enhance your expertise and contribute to the knowledge in the entire discipline

23 Mar 2022 Ekonomicko-správní fakulta MU

Tomáš Houška in Munich | Photo by <a rel="noopener" href="" target="_blank">Falko Boecker</a>
What path led to your doctoral studies?

My studies were somewhat unconventional. Right after the MA degree, I started to work as an economist at the Office for the Protection of Competition in Brno, the antitrust authority. I had been working for over a year when I decided to pursue doctoral studies. I wanted to acquire knowledge that could not be learnt at work.

What kind of knowledge do you mean?

When conducting an analysis of a competition case, you always use methods appropriate to the solution of a certain issue. Thus, you do not learn of methods that require mote data or time than available in a particular case. I wished to gain a more comprehensive insight into my discipline, and therefore I took a career break and decided to enhance my knowledge through study.

What exactly couldn’t you find in your job and found in the doctoral studies?

Acquiring deeper theoretical knowledge in the field of study, which I could prove thanks to my degree. After the completion of Ph.D. studies, I could offer both the practical experience and theoretical knowledge. This combination opened many doors for me, including the opportunity to work for the British Office of Communications, known as Ofcom.

What did you like most about your studies?

Doctoral studies are a very intellectually satisfying activity. I enjoyed meeting people who were as inquisitive as I was. It is not humanly possible to resolve all research tasks by yourself. A great and interesting part of the studies is exchange of opinions and discussion with others. The Faculty of Economics and Administration has a great team that will definitely enable such exchange.

On the other hand, was there anything you wouldn’t go through again?

My research sometimes reached a dead end. When I was developing the first demand and supply model, a moment came when it dawned on me that the model was not entirely suitable and functional. I had to discard six-month work and start to consider an alternative approach. It is quite a psychological blow to abandon something you had been building for half a year.

When you look back, would you say the experience made you stronger?

Definitely. Such situations cannot be avoided both in everyday working life and during studies. They develop resilience.

Where do you seek motivation if you get into a situation that seems hopeless?

Firstly, you must know whether you really want to study for a Ph.D. and have a clear idea why you want to do it. As soon as you are certain, the motivation comes your way; however, you must set a clear goal and see a purpose in your decision. The point of doctoral studies is not gathering lecture notes, the point is to seek answers to questions that have not been answered or examined in depth. If such a goal is missing, motivation may easily wane.

In conclusion, what is your message to Ph.D. applicants or current students?

Applicants should be responsible in considering their future. You should talk to your teachers first and crystallize your motives for further study. The path to a Ph.D. will be much happier if the goal is clear. Current students should not forget they are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and discuss your research with the supervisor, department members, alumni or fellow students. It will help advance your research and your career. The path to a Ph.D. is like solving a puzzle. You need to find out which piece fits your picture. Sometimes you are at a loss, but when the last piece clicks in, the feeling is indescribable.

PhD Guide

Tomáš Houška

Tomáš Houška earned his Ph.D. in Economic Policy in 2015. He has specialized in this field for eleven years. During his doctoral studies at the Faculty of Economics and Administration, he conducted research at the Toulouse School of Economics, where he examined the impact of competition policy on a selected market. He worked as an economic expert with the Czech Office for the Protection of Competition and the British communications regulator Ofcom. At present, he works at AlixPartners in Munich, where he provides consultancy in the area of competition.

Foto: Falko Boecker

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