“It was a really big surprise and I was not prepared for this,” said Ekkehard Philipp, receiving his Local Partnership Award accolade from HIPA President Róbert Ésik, at the BBJ Expat CEO of the Year gala. “I am very grateful and deeply touched and almost speechless, which is unusual for me,” he added.
Founded by the Budapest Business Journal, backed by official event partner the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA), which provides the Local Partnership Award for involving local suppliers in the value chain, and sponsored by Budapest Airport Zrt., Citibank, PwC, the Corinthia Hotel Budapest, Nespresso, Zwack Unicum Nyrt. and Prime Time Communications, the BBJ Expat CEO of the Year awards were held for the third time on Friday (February 10) at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest.
“Mercedes-Benz and Hungary belong together. We are here to stay,” Phillip said, adding that it was not a surprise that the company was doubling the capacity of its Hungarian plant, which is a “very positive message” for the country.
That said, he did warn that there is room for Hungary to improve in certain areas, such as the lack of manpower, the education system, as well as the implementation of the public administration.
His company has been a significant player in the Hungarian automotive industry, which is considered the chief engine for the Hungarian economy. Last year Daimler announced it would be investing a further HUF 1 billion at its base in Kecskemét, adding a second plant to its Hungarian operation, and thus creating approximately 2,500 new workplaces.
Jörg Bauer, CEO of GE Hungary Kft., has been recognized as the most influential foreign CEO in Hungary by the Budapest Business Journal. Ekkehard Philipp, CFO of Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Hungary Kft., received the HIPA Local Partnership award in recognition of his firmʼs use of local suppliers.
Founded by the Budapest Business Journal, backed by official event partner the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA), and sponsored by BMW, Budapest Airport Zrt., Citibank, PwC, the Corinthia Hotel Budapest, Nespresso, Zwack Unicum Nyrt. and Prime Time Communications, the awards honor the expat CEO who is seen as having made the most important contribution to the Hungarian economy and society in the previous 12 months. Both the BBJ and the HIPA awards were being presented for the third time.
“It was an extremely difficult decision process, as each of the candidates would really deserve the title,” said Jost Lammers, CEO of Budapest Airport; the 2016 winner of the Expat CEO of the Year award, this year he served on the selection jury, and presented the main BBJ prize. “We had a lot of heated but professional discussion,” he added.
“I am very honored to be part of such a distinguished group of nominees, I believe anybody could be standing here,” said Bauer, who is also President of GE Hungary, in accepting his prize from Lammers.
“When I came here to Hungary I would not have ever thought that I would be standing here once,” he said, switching to Hungarian briefly to address the audience. “This award is a great motivation for all of us to find solutions that work for our companies and the country of Hungary well,” he added.
Beside the BBJ’s Expat CEO of the Year accolade, Bauer also won a bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne and the chance to take the very latest BMW model on a weeklong test drive, courtesy of BMW Magyarország. “It is a special pleasure to offer to the winner a unique test drive with the new BMW 5 series, on the worldwide launch of the model,” said Baudouin Denis, managing director of BMW Group Hungary.
GE Hungary inaugurated its Global Digital Development Center in Budapest in October of last year through a HUF 8 billion investment, creating almost 1,500 jobs in the country. GE Steam Power Systems has also been reported to be among a number of companies in the running to supply the turbines for the upgrade of Hungaryʼs sole nuclear power plant in Paks.
This year’s runners up for the 2017 BBJ Expat CEO of the Year award were: Marc de Bastos Eckstein, executive director of ThyssenKrupp Presta Hungary Kft.; Rick P. Enders, general manager of Budapest Marriott Hotel & Marriott Executive Apartments; Jesper Hassellund Mikkelsen, senior vice president of European Moulding and DUPLO, head of LEGO Moulding Denmark, and general manager of LEGO Manufacturing Hungary; and Stephan Interthal, general manager of the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest.
The Budapest Business Journal and official event partner HIPA have presented the prizes since they were founded in 2015.
2017 - Jörg Bauer, CEO of GE Hungary Kft.
2016 - Jost Lammers, CEO of Budapest Airport Zrt.
2015 - Javier González Pareja, then CEO of Bosch Magyarország Zrt.
2017 - Ekkehard Philipp, CFO of Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Hungary Kft.
2016 - Naoyuki Takeuchi, then CEO of Magyar Suzuki Zrt.
2015 - Kersten Bachmann, CEO of TAKATA Safety Systems Hungary Kft.