Professor of the year in Berkeley
Panos N. Patakoukas, a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of Berkeley of California was named professor of the year at UC Berkeley’s community. This distinction not only reflects the recognition of his colleagues at the University but also his popularity among the students, some of whom are older than him and hold high positions in the business world.
The way he teaches (at MBA and Ph.D. level) is the reason he succeeded and named professor of the year. Financial analysis is a rather difficult and inaccessible field, but he manages to keep students of all ages engaged in the course and gain their appreciation and fondness. This title is one of the most prestigious for a professor at the University of Berkeley and aims to identify the professors who stimulate the student’s intellectual curiosity.
Panos N. Patatoukas was raised in Peristeri area in Athens, Greece and is 37 years old. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree from the Athens University of Economics and Business, a Master of Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science, a Master of Arts and Mathematics and a Ph.D. from the University of Yale.
When at the age of 29 he began teaching at the Haas School of Business, his challenge and goal were to impose his presence in the room through knowledge, love for the teaching materials and not through the strictness or power that the professor’s position allows. On the first day, only twenty people attended his course in Finance, but while this subject itself sounds very “dry”, he tried to give “a little bit of soul”, he said in an interview to Kathimerini. He basically aimed to focus on the stories behind the numbers, the main reason why his classes became popular and full of students who appreciated both the material and the new teaching approach.
He admits that he feels lucky to be in the academic world, pleased by being a professor and does not consider teaching as a “job” by the strict sense of the term. His love for the work he does and his continuous efforts for improving the course made him one of the most popular professors at the University and gave him the Exceptional Teaching Award for the years 2011-12, 2014-5, 2016-7 by his students.
The Berkeley University, where he has been working since the beginning of his academic career, is one of the most famous universities in the world, both for its academic achievements and accomplishments in research and for being the place where the Freedom of Speech movement was born in the USA. He says it is “a very protected environment, very international and cosmopolitan. Also, as a public university, it ensures a much more pluralist profile of the students than the other major universities in the country. Moreover, one of the basic reasons for choosing Berkeley was this public character, which also reminded me of Greece”.
According to Panos N. Patakoukas, financial information today is more than ever available due to technology and open databases. Thus a simple investor finds it very difficult to access such a huge amount of information, mainly due to the limited time and lack of tools to filter the information. “We want to democratize this valuable knowledge, to extend it beyond the boundaries of our University because that is precisely Berkeley’s philosophy”.
He intends to achieve that, by creating an application which will be most likely ready by the end of the year. Its construction has been entrusted to a Greek company in Athens – and this is another reason why he wants to visit Greece, his “house” as he calls it, more often. The application will be available free of charge, because “Otherwise I would have to manage a strong internal conflict: on one hand, I’m building a platform with which I am trying to democratize financial analysis and information, and on the other hand, I will charge for that democratization? I think that wouldn’t be right”.