Interview with the Dean of the School of Business Administration in Karviná on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Silesian University

  • Michal Stoklasa
  • 29.07.2021
The Silesian University is commemorating its thirtieth anniversary this year. As part of the festivities, we've decided to do interviews with a few notable grads. Below you can read how Prof. Ing. Daniel Stavárek, Ph.D., the current dean of the School of Business Administration in Karviná (hence referred to as SBA) views his studies and the institution as a whole, as well as what he wishes the university for its birthday.

Author: Kristýna Hanačíková - student editorial staff of the Silesian University 

It started with the field of Banking at the SBA, and then he became an assistant professor at the Department of Finance. He gradually rose through the ranks to become vice-dean and since 2015 he has held the highest at the faculty - the dean. Throughout his career, he has also gained extensive experience in the banking sector, contributed to many professional publications, and now shares his knowledge with students.

What attracted you so much to the Silesian University that you decided to apply and start studying here?

After graduating from high school in 1996, I had a clear idea that I wanted to study economics while remaining in my home region for my studies. As a result, I applied to both faculties of economics, namely our SBA and also the Faculty of Economics at VSB - Technical University of Ostrava. In the end, I chose the SBA primarily because of the new Banking field of study but also based on the overall impression of the faculty, the building, and the study environment. 

If we disengage from your position as Dean of the SBA, why would you recommend the Silesian University to potential applicants as our graduate?

Despite being one of the smallest universities in the Czech Republic, the Silesian University offers a diverse range of attractive degree programs that can be studied in state-of-the-art facilities in two very interesting Silesian towns. If I may speak specifically about the School of Business Administration, I would like to highlight some of the more unusual degree programs available in Czech language, such as Digital Business, Banking, Finance and Insurance, and International Trade. The faculty is also heavily based on intensive collaboration with practice, as evidenced by the involvement of experts in teaching, an increased level of professional practice, and the ability to solve specific company assignments within the Business Gate Academy. Students at our faculty gain valuable practical skills and experience during their studies, in addition to a variety of other activities, which they can then apply effectively in their careers. In our interactions with students, we are also helpful, friendly, and fair, which contributes significantly to overall study comfort and a pleasant creative atmosphere at our faculty.

After your master's degree studies, you stayed at the faculty and started teaching there. Was that your long-term goal of educating your followers?

This was not a long-term goal, in my opinion. During the first half of my studies, I was more interested in working for a central bank or one of the commercial banks. I gradually entered the academic world by working in the Academic Senate's student chamber or as an auxiliary scientific helper at the Department of Finance. And the more I learned about how universities work and what academics do, the more I liked the university environment. At the start of my final year of studies, the then-head of the department, Prof. Stanislav Polouček, asked if I would assist in teaching seminars in the course International Finance. I was delighted to accept the offer; I tried teaching from the position of a teacher, and I was certain that I wanted to remain at the SBA. Fortunately, there was also interest on the other side, and my academic career could thus get underway.

What was it like to go from being a student to being a teacher? Was this a difficult life transition for you? 

As I previously stated, the final year of my master's degree studies was critical, as I worked as both a teacher and a student. I even taught some students first, and then sat with them on a bench in another course. At the same time, after graduating, I was already living in student dorms as a teacher, so I was still in close contact with the students. The transition from being a student to being a teacher was very natural and pleasant. I frequently went out for a beer with the students to the student club, but we maintained the necessary distance in academic matters and fully respected the roles of the teacher and students. Over time, I must admit that in many ways, I was even tougher and stricter on students in the beginning. 

Daniel Stavárek, Dean of SU SBA, is our proud graduate. (Source: SBA archive)

Were you attracted to the position of dean during your studies?

At the time of my studies, I couldn't even imagine what the role of the dean entailed. I saw the position as a faculty symbol, along with the ceremonial robe, the scepter, and the awarding of diplomas at graduations. Later, I discovered that this position obviously means a lot more and necessitates a lot more experience, managerial skills, and respect and reputation in academic circles. It would be bold to say that this position drew me in during my studies or at the start of my academic career. As I progressed through various positions as chairman of the senate, head of the department, vice-dean, spent time at foreign universities, and successfully completed the habilitation and professorship, I began to feel that I could contribute to the faculty and benefit it even as a dean. 

Is there any funny memory associated with the SBA from the time of your studies? 

I'd like to reiterate that after graduating, I lived in the Kosmos dormitories with my current wife, who was still a student at the faculty at the time. Each apartment had double and triple rooms, as well as a kitchenette, bathroom, and toilet. In many ways, living with four girls was amusing. When my friend and current colleague Assoc. Prof. Klepková Vodová once stayed overnight instead of me, in the morning, when the usual daily bustle and room visits have already taken place, one of the students exclaimed in amazement when he arrived in our room: "Oh my God, Mrs. Vodová, but Mr. Stavárek usually does sleep here." 

Holding the position of dean is certainly very demanding, as it entails a lot of responsibilities. Do you bring your work home in popular terms?

I worked mostly from home, especially in the last few months, which were marked by the lockdown and the home office regime. But, even in normal times, things are usually the same. The dean's work is varied, and I keep things at home that require more concentration, thought, and time. In the faculty office, you can better manage all administrative activities, as well as meetings and negotiations, of which the dean has a lot. 

How do you spend your days off when you don't have to work?

I enjoy them the most with my wife and two sons on a family trip, walk, or simply at home in the garden. If I were alone or with friends, I would go on trips to small breweries.

Run with the dean at the SBA is a popular pastime among students, staff, and members of the public. But do you do other sports besides jogging?

I just jog actively. I like jogging because it doesn't require any teammates or opponents, special equipment, or a playground. I can jog whenever and wherever I want, and regular jogging fits in nicely with all of my responsibilities. I enjoy football in other sports, but I no longer actively participate in it. My older son and I, on the other hand, are big fans of MFK Karviná, and we used to go to almost every home game before the covid. We are already looking forward to the next Premier League season, and we hope to see the game from the stands and show our support once more. 

If you had to give students some valuable advice in life, what would it be?

Higher education alone is not extraordinary anymore, it does not ensure success automatically. You have to do something else if you want to succeed not only in your studies but also throughout your career. Studying offers several good opportunities. Study abroad, work with practice, take part in scientific work, organize community life in the faculty, and many other activities. All of these activities will broaden your horizons and expand more than standard study skills and experience. That would be my advice: Study fully and benefit from the opportunities offered by the university.

What do you enjoy the most about living in this region? Do you have any favorite spots here that you would like to share?

I do like the Moravian-Silesian region in general; it provides its residents with everything they need to live, including top culture and sports, beautiful nature, a plethora of well-known and lesser-known monuments, interesting places, and capable and fair residents. My family and I live in a village Václavovice and enjoy the surrounding landscape of the Silesian Gate micro region. Many interesting historic buildings, such as wooden churches, windmills, and log cabins, can be found in the member villages. I would also recommend paying a visit to Paskov's castle and adjacent castle park, which is where I grew up. I am very pleased that the entire castle complex has improved in recent years as a result of the municipality. I also can't forget Karviná, where I’ve spent a lot of time while studying and working at the SBA. My favorite spots are primarily Fryštát Square, which includes a castle and a beautiful park with an outdoor cinema, as well as a pleasant area with boats that seamlessly connects to the walk around the Olše River and the Darkov Spa Park.

This year, the Silesian University is celebrating a beautiful round anniversary - 30 years! What would you like to wish it on its birthday?

I wish the Silesian University as many students, employees, graduates, friends, and partners as possible who will enjoy, be proud of, and be eager to participate in other university activities and collaboration. As a result, its well-deserved reputation will spread even further.