Summer School participant: You have to work hard to achieve a better life

Along with his doctoral studies, the German Cam-Duc Au is successfully pursuing a career in the second largest bank in Germany. At the moment he is Project Manager in Digital Strategy & Business Models. In order to get to know Latvia and gain international experience in the field of business, this year Cam-Duc Au participated in the annual "Summer School" organized by Turība University. Cam-Duc Au admits that while visiting Latvia, he has acquired practical knowledge, which is now successfully used in his daily work in the banking sector.

How long have you been working for your current employer?

I am working at Commerzbank AG since 2009 in different exciting positions. My career as lecturer at FOM University of Applied Sciences for Economics and Management started in 2020. Also, I am a research fellow at the isf Institute for Strategic Finance and currently doing my PhD at the Masaryk University (Faculty of Finance) in Brno.

You have a stable career in the banking field. Why is it important for you to continue studying?

As we all can see, technology is changing our way of living. This does not only include the private life, but especially the professional career. Banking is a very complex field, which goes hand in hand with the use of technology. But the given technology is very old and hence there are many opportunities to improve the existing IT. We all read about buzzwords such as artificial intelligence, blockchain or API. It is reality and one must understand the potential, which lies in it. I love to study because I learn about the latest trends in technology and combine it with my existing finance knowledge. I can give you an example: today’s economists really must possess good or at least basic knowledge when it comes to technology or digitization. Otherwise, you will not be able to stay competitive on market because others will be more efficient or profitable.

Before you came to Latvia, what did you know about our country and what were your expectations?

Honestly, I did not know much about the country.

What do you think about Latvia now?

I am seriously impressed by the beautiful culture and the nature. Me and my colleagues had a very warm welcome and enjoyed our stay at any time.

What did you receive from the Summer school in Turība?

I received a high-quality program with lots of practical content for my daily business. I appreciated the very good balance between theory and practice. My personal highlights were the company visits, which allowed us to talk to successful Latvian entrepreneurs and learn from their experiences. It was really motivating, and I consider it as a valuable lesson for my professional future. One never stops learning. I really enjoyed my time at Turiba and appreciate the perfect organization from the lecturers.

From your point of view, what are the main differences between universities in Latvia and Germany?

I had enough time to only see the similarities. I am also working as a lecturer at FOM University of Applied Sciences for Economics and Management. Comparing my uni work with the experience I had at Turiba University, I see a strong emphasis on practical relevance. It is no secret that students prefer practicability over theory. In my opinion, both institutes succeed in providing students the right content to be successful in daily business.

In this Summer school there was a new model of classes – business together with communication. What do you think about this type of business module nowadays? Can it be successful?

Communication nowadays becomes more and more important. Especially due to the Covid-pandemic, companies and its employees need to pay even more attention to adequate communication. In my daily work, we used to meet personally for each project meeting to discuss results or do brainstorming. Often, we had to switch buildings, which costs a lot of time. With the new normal, we learned that online or remote meetings also work very fine for us. Honestly, I am surprised how well complex projects can be handled by using online meetings. I did not expect that. So, I think business and communication goes hand in hand very well and will play an even greater role in the digital working world.

In total, what are the main mistakes that people make concerning banking?

Banks are an essential part of the economy and serve many vital functions for your daily processes (e.g., shopping, retirement planning, entrepreneurship). I strongly believe there will always be a raison d'être for banks, regardless of new upcoming trends. Of course, I am a huge fan of the distributed ledger technology with all its groundbreaking potential of decentralization. I see it not as a threat to banks, but rather a chance to improve existing processes, products, and services. So, one should not write off the relevance of banks for our society as well as economy. There is much work to do for banks, but my personal view is very optimistic for the future.

What is important to take into consideration when one is planning finances? (advices)

In general, I advise everyone to invest time in understanding finance. It does not matter if you studied finance or not. Financial education and literacy is vital to have a successful life. With social media platforms like Youtube and other well-known sources, it is very easy to get the necessary information. We are blessed with lots of good information, which is accessible for free. If you go back in time before the existence of Internet, it was much harder to get access to relevant knowledge. This barrier is now gone. We need to appreciate it and make use of this opportunity. I love to watch Youtube-Videos about new financial trends or topics. Of course, you must be careful with fake news and non-relevant content. But it is easy to find out the most popular sources to get your daily dose of finance news.

Why is education important? What does it give to the people?

Education is important to live a life according to your individual wishes. I remember my time when I was very young. My family did not have much money and my parents worked all day, having several jobs to provide for their children. I still remember how harsh this time was for them and for me. In retrospective, I honestly did not enjoy it. But it taught me a very important lesson: You always need to work hard to achieve a better life. And education is the key to it. I never had much money, so I started to work in a bank to understand money. 12 years later I still enjoy this learning process and can tell, that the harsh living condition from my past has led me to a right professional path. And I am still grateful for that.

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