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School of Economics and Finance

Filip Ujlaky


Filip Ujlaky

(Investment and Finance, MSc 2017)

What does your current role as the Vice President of Account Management at Exponea look like on a day-to-day basis? 

It's very exciting and challenging at the same time. Account management is a completely new department in Exponea that we’ve been building from scratch since March this year (2020). That means from getting the people in the team to the day to day tasks and rollout of processes. 

I joined the company when it was still a small start-up in Slovakia (where I’m from) with only 50 people. Now there is over 200 of us across seven countries: Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, UK, Germany, Russia and the US. I’m based in Slovakia and manage the account management team across all global regions. At the moment, because of the pandemic, it mostly looks like is a lot of Zoom calls! 

What's account management? In simplicity, it is nurturing of client relationships after the sale is done. Once clients sign contract with the sales department, they are transferred under my team that looks after them throughout that contract – they come to us for all contract-related transactions or our product offering. The key activities of the team are to ensure that the contracts are sized just right to allow for clients' growth (and increase their size if needed). We call this activity an upsell of the already existing product. Then the team offers to the client those parts of the product that they do not have already but could benefit from. This is a so-called cross-sell. When it comes to the end of a contract period (or so-called renewal time) account managers are renegotiating terms of the new contract or are updating parts of the contract as needed. On top, the team is assuring that clients are happy with the product and relationship.

With the Covid-19 situation specifically, account management has got to a slightly different level too. We have had some clients that were suffering (mostly financially) for reasons that were pretty much out of their control. I had to think about how we can care for these clients without putting our business at risk and not losing them just because they couldn’t pay at that specific moment.


Can you tell me about a key turning point in your career?

It might sound like a cliche, but it was probably when I did my master’s at Queen Mary. Initially, I had been looking at working in investment banking in London but in the end, I had decided to go back home to Slovakia. (Turns out it was a good call as I ended up marrying the love of my life and landing a dream job thanks to the move).

I knew from my previous experience of looking for a job whilst studying that I needed to get started early. Already for some time, I was in contact with local NGO which tries to encourage young professionals to come back to Slovakia and reverse the brain drain problem Slovakia is experiencing. They help people with recruitment, make sure to present them with the right opportunities and help align it all with their experience. I went to their Xmas networking event 3 months into my master’s degree where I met a lot of interesting people from all sorts of Slovak start-ups and other companies, including my current CEO.

A week later I was already making my way through the 4-round interview process at Exponea. One part of the interview process included a complex statistical analysis of start-ups, which I've only managed thanks to the course I was just doing at Queen Mary. I've never needed that particular piece of knowledge since, but it was priceless at that moment. Getting into this company (where I went from an analyst to Vice President in three years) was a real turning point in my career. I never thought I would use my master’s how I’ve used it but it’s still extremely helpful for my work even though I’m not in investment or finance. Having an in-depth knowledge of finance gives me a competitive edge during my meetings with the board; commercial negotiations with C-levels on the client-side or during discussions with potential investors. 


How did your time studying Investment and Finance at Queen Mary equip you for life after university?

My studies helped me to land the job I have, and as mentioned before it helps me day-to-day too. I need to stay on top of numbers and commercials all the time to strike the best deals possible; make informed decisions about my team's strategy or simply to provide valuable insights during board-level meetings. Besides, Exponea allows us to be shareholders of the company and I could have easily assessed the risk before signing up for the shares! Outside of working hours, I trade and invest as a hobby.


Why did you choose your degree subject? Why did you choose Queen Mary?

I was balancing between a math geek and chatty socialiser my whole life.  My bachelor's degree was a good example of my ambivalence. I studied business (numbers) and politics (chatty). During my placement year, I worked as a business analyst and straight after school, I moved into the sales.  After 3 years I got fed up with sales and the "chatty-side". It was time for me to go back to the numbers. I kept getting drawn towards the numbers, trading on the side and constantly looking for investment opportunities. When I was thinking of a career change, it made sense to formalise that inclination and get a degree in finance. Hence, I chose MSc Investment and Finance.

Choosing Queen Mary was a result of learning from previous experience. For my bachelor's, I didn’t want to go somewhere small and London was out of my budget, so I ended up choosing Birmingham. Looking back, this might not have been the best choice for me! This time around, I wanted to go to a top university with great networking opportunities. Queen Mary based in London was the right choice. When I looked at the course, it was really hands-on and delivered by practitioners from the City and Canary Wharf. At the open day, all of the dots just connected, and it turned out to be a really good choice.


It seems like you were quite active in extracurricular activities whilst you were at Queen Mary – would you like to talk a bit about that?

This was another thing I learnt from my previous experience. When I finished my bachelor's and was looking for a job, I realised how much the small things make a difference. When I came to Queen Mary, I was more weathered. Having worked before, I also knew the recruitment processes and what is expected from the candidates. Hence, I was able to get ahead.

It’s so important to get involved in as much as you can. Not only you increase your chances of landing your dream job by getting that little extra, but you also make great friends & acquaintances. Trust me, these friendships & relationships will keep giving for the rest of your life. I was a course rep, the treasurer & co-founder of the Futsal society, took part in QUMMIF, and a couple of other societies too. So yes, quite active J

QUMMIF is a student-managed investment fund was responsible for over £40,000 of investments! As QUMMIF members we were able to allocate funds into different asset classes and apply the academic knowledge of finance and economics to reality, as in many cases the two are very different. The Futsal Society was just a bit of fun, it’s essentially indoor football (I wanted to play football with less running J)


Do you have any memories you would like to share from your time at Queen Mary?

Doing a master's, you’re only there for a short time, perhaps seven months altogether, but I made some great friends from a day one. I had expected to be by far the oldest person on my course (being 28 at the time), but there were quite a few of the same age or a bit older, which was a nice surprise. Somehow, I managed to become part of a mostly Norwegian group. We were all very results-oriented and hard-working. Plus, I learned a lot about (for me) new culture. Living at the dorms, we were all studying together and helping each other out and playing a casual round of table tennis during our study breaks just to chill out. Thanks to the group work (and maybe table tennis) it was never really stressful. 

I also went to a lot of networking events. Queen Mary has an excellent location for networking in the financial world, stone throws from both the City and Canary Wharf.


What advice would you give a current student or recent graduate considering their career options?

One important thing is to start preparing early - figure what you want to do and where you want to do it, do your research and be proactive. Most companies have specific recruitment cycles during which they are recruiting. Early in a year, they have quite a few positions open and have fewer and fewer throughout the year. This tends to mean they are more lenient earlier or at least that's how I felt. Later in a year, the competition is much tougher as there are so many more people applying. Besides, you also have all your final exams to prepare for. I definitely learnt this the hard way during my bachelors!


Do you have any role models that you look up to, in or out of your field?

I have a few from a range of areas, including Elon Musk, Warren Buffet and my wife.

Elon Musk is for me a crazy man (in a good sense) with a truly great mind. He is definitely one of the biggest visionaries of our times. I remember reading his biography at university and just realising that anything is possible. Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha, who is without a doubt one of the greatest investors in history. I'm a big fan of his value investing philosophy as well as his books. My wife is a role model of a completely different kind. She has awesome communication skills. She is able to assess a person in 1 minute and resolve any conflict or tension super smoothly. I'm learning from her every day. I have many more, but I think they sum it up quite well.


This profile was conducted by Alumni Engagement Coordinator, Hannah. If you would like to get in touch with Filip or engage him in your work, please contact Hannah Dormor.

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