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Doctor’s career path: Assistant Professor of Finance Deniz Okat's story

Deniz Okat is thankful for the guidance of the world-class professors during his doctoral studies.

Upon completing his PhD studies Deniz Okat has worked as the Assistant Professor of finance at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which is the leading business school in Asia.

Deniz, you graduated with a master of business administration degree in 2005. Did you apply for the doctoral programme directly after your master's degree studies? Was it obvious for you that you wanted to pursue doctoral studies in business and economics?

At the end of my MBA studies at the University of Rochester, I received an offer from a Turkish conglomerate which would like to open a commercial bank in Ukraine. The project was basically setting up a bank in a country which I hadn’t had any experience at the time. It sounded like a great opportunity and I accepted to lead the project without much thinking. Four years later, once the bank started its operations, I decided to go back to academia and chose Aalto to pursue my PhD.

What do you think is best about the doctoral studies at the School of Business? And is there something that needs improving?

I can mention several great features of the doctoral program at Aalto. First, the quality of the finance doctoral program is comparable to the top universities in the world. One can confirm this claim by looking at the placement record of its graduates. Second, the program is very supportive. It allowed me to rigorously explore my research interests under the guidance of the world-class professors who treated me like a real colleague. Daily interactions with them accelerated my progress in the program. Third, the variety of seminar options exposed me to different fields and widened my vision. The possibility of arranging meetings with seminar speakers helped me create an academic network before I graduate.

It is true that the School of Business doctoral programme has become much more international in the past years. During your studies, how much did you take part in seminars and conferences abroad?

Attending to international conferences is an integral activity in my field. During my studies I attended at least one international and one local conference in each year. I also participated in a couple of intensive courses organized in other universities.

Did you conduct studies in foreign universities during your doctoral studies? If so, did you apply for funding for this purpose?

During my doctoral studies, I spent two semesters at Wharton Business School and one semester at Boston College. I received grants from different institutions in Finland to finance my visits.

How long did your doctoral studies take?

I started my doctoral studies in autumn 2010, and defended my dissertation in May 2016.

Did you find employment after your doctoral studies in the way that you had hoped?

I received a couple of offers close to my graduation from universities located in different countries and chose HKUST. The excellent reputation of Aalto University played a big role in the recruitment process.

Deniz Okat’s research interests are in financial intermediation, corporate finance, corporate governance, political economy, and information economics. One chapter of his dissertation 'Essays on Auditing, Banking, and Political Bargaining has been published at the RAND Journal of Economics.

Read more about the School of Business doctoral programme

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