Finance is my passion - well, that and Game of Thrones
"I’m originally from La Paz in Bolivia, and I always knew I was going to study abroad. As soon as I graduated high school I started working as a bar manager for Loki, one of South America’s biggest hotel and hostel chains. That was what sparked my interest in business, particularly the area of finance, and a lot of my work had to do with management accounting, setting prices, deciding on discounts, understanding workflows and how customers react - the whole essence of business attracted me.
I saved enough to travel around and decided to visit Europe, and that’s how I came to Prague in September 2012. Other than being a stunning-looking city, I really liked the feel of life here - it didn’t seem to be as fast paced as other western cities. And Prague provides a great lifestyle without compromising on study."
Does it remind you of home in any way?
"Not really - but that is precisely what I was looking for - I wasn't looking for something familiar. Big cities back home take a lot from their western equivalents, whereas Prague is more like a marriage of Western society with more of a chill lifestyle. It doesn't stop being a city, but it doesn’t take itself a seriously as London for instance. A good example is taking escalators in the metro. In London there are always people running up and down, and if you stand on the left you probably get frowned upon. Here that happens far less!"
And why Prague College in particular?
"I found it more appealing, and also far more affordable. Since my English is pretty good, I wanted to go to an English speaking country. I didn’t really like the idea of America, and Australian and UK cost of living were really excessive. I started looking for UK universities in Europe, because I had a fairly good understanding of which countries had the how the UK system worked. It seems a bit of a hurdle to learn another language, which I would have had to do in Germany, Holland, Belgium or France. And that's how I came across Prague College.
Truth be told, I did ask all the universities in Prague about their course but this is the only UK-accredited university to award a Bachelor’s degree in business in the Czech Republic, and that ultimately was why I applied."
Tell us about what you're studying here...
"I’ve always had a thing for numbers, so I decided to take the BA (Hons) Business Finance and Accounting programme. We’re finishing the second year with the module on financial accounting and reporting, and that ties in well with my research topic - the repercussions on business of effective customer service in the food and beverage industry in Prague. It involves trying to create a measure to gauge how beneficial or detrimental customer service is to business. Of course customer service here has improved vastly in the last few years."
Has it been hard to get real life data for the project?
"Most businesses are willing to understand the differences between different models of customer service. Particularly in the tourist industry, this case study has shown that sales and reviews have improved with improved customer service."
What do you hope to achieve with all of this?
"It's a bit hard to answer this when I‘m still 23, but business is something I really like. I thoroughly enjoy analysing strategy and finance is one of my passions. Now that we have the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualification delivered at Prague College, it will make me more appealing in the search for a job - in the Czech Republic, in the UK or in Germany. It’s more effective in that it’s internationally recognized."
Luis, I hear that you're also an authority on Game of Thrones - do you identify with any of the characters - and why?
"Yeah, I do love the books and series! If I had to choose one it would probably be Jaime. Other than the transformation as seen by the reader/viewer, I always sensed there was a sense of righteousness in him and if you think about it, losing what’s most important to him simply revealed to him that there was so much more than he thought.
I do love it when a perspective on a character changes, because - despite what we all might think of as important - I believe we are all good at heart. My priorities and goals have certainly changed over the years from a selfish perspective to a more inclusive one, which is why I can identify with him a lot!"