A tribute to Piotr Korczak

Piotr Korczak, Associate Professor of Finance in the School of Accounting and Finance, our much loved and respected colleague, has died at the age of 42.

Professor Paula Hill, Dr Adriana Korczak and Professor Neslihan Ozkan offer this appreciation.

It is difficult to convey in words the warmth, kindness, laughter, calmness and curiosity that we, his colleagues, associated with Piotr. His door was always open, his advice wise and insightful, his curiosity limitless. Neither colleagues, friends nor family can recall hearing a bad word said about Piotr; he had an extraordinary ability to disagree with others, whilst showing respect for all contrary arguments, no matter how absurd.

Piotr was born in Poznan, Poland in 1978 to Ula and Jozef, both academics. A nationwide geographical Olympics prize gave Piotr access to any of Poland’s top academic institutions without the usual requirement to pass entrance exams. He elected to join the University of Economics in Poznan to study for an MSc in Finance and Investment. Having passed with the highest honours, he was awarded an international scholarship to study for a PhD at the University of Viadrina in Frankfurt Oder. This was followed by a Marie Curie Fellowship, and he spent the final year of his PhD studying at Cass Business School in London. From there he secured a lectureship in finance at the University of Bristol School of Economics, Finance and Management.

He was joined in Bristol four years later by his wife, Adriana (Ada), and in addition to work with other authors, they completed a number of highly regarded academic papers together. One of their recent papers on Brexit was discussed in a debate in the UK Houses of Parliament and saw Piotr interviewed on television about how Brexit might influence UK firms.

Piotr’s substantial academic legacy goes well beyond his worldwide reputation for his research in corporate finance. He was highly dedicated to his students, particularly in his role as director of the MSc in Finance and Investment over many years, showing excellent leadership and making it a highly successful masters’ programme. He helped many students to develop and grow through his passionate lecturing, tutoring, mentoring and teaching. Following his death, many accolades and tributes have been sent by Piotr’s colleagues, friends and former students in Bristol and elsewhere. Many came to pay their respects in person, despite the difficulties in arranging safe travel due to the pandemic.

Outside work, Piotr always enjoyed spending time with his family and friends, and he would regularly play his favourite board games including Scrabble and Monopoly. He played football in his youth, his height, agility and determination making him a worthy goalkeeper. His ball control and shooting skills were still evident when he played as an adult.

Ada is grateful for the opportunity to live and work alongside Piotr which has given her more wonderful time together than most couples would be able to achieve by their diamond wedding anniversaries – the silver lining had, thankfully, come ahead of the more recent cloud. As Piotr’s brother-in-law Mike wrote in his eulogy, Piotr “wasn’t just a son, a brother, a relative, friend, colleague or acquaintance and he certainly wasn’t just a husband or father …… he was top notch in each and every one of those regards and left everyone feeling better for having known him.”

In addition to his wife Ada, Piotr leaves his children Tosia, aged 11, and Hania aged 9. He also leaves many deeply saddened colleagues across a range of disciplines. For many of us, he is irreplaceable, and will be missed immensely.

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