Gearing up for the Expat CEO Gala


Final preparations are being made for the Budapest Business Journal’s annual Expat CEO of the Year Gala at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest on January 25. The event reaches a minor milestone this year, being staged for the fifth time.

The aim of the event is to recognize the significant contribution the best expat CEOs make to Hungary’s economy. The main award is sponsored by the BBJ, with a second prize, the Local Partnership Award, presented by the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency to the CEO of the multinational company that has done most to involve local suppliers in its value chain. HIPA has been the official event partner since its launch.  

For the BBJ, the award and the gala are an important element of community building around the country’s expat business leaders. The recognition of significant achievements is important, of course, but so is providing a platform for CEOs (and their partners) to meet and network with their peers, high level members of the diplomatic corps and other decision makers in Hungary.

“Over the past few years, the annual Expat CEO Gala has become an important community building event for the BBJ,” says Balázs Román, BBJ CEO. “I think we are all very much looking forward to the gala, and the unveiling of our fifth BBJ Expat CEO of the Year.”

Javier Gonzáles Pareja

This year’s short list has already been drawn up, and the nominees notified, but it is being kept under wraps until the evening, just to build tension and excitement that little bit further. The final vote on the overall winner will only be taken just before the gala itself starts.  

What we can reveal is that, for the first time, the short list contains two women, with the nationalities split between Germany (naturally), the United States, Finland, Britain and India (perhaps surprisingly, both firsts). The companies they represent are, American, Indian, German and Swiss-Swedish multinationals; they are a conglomerate, a global investment manager, a global bank, a pioneering technology company and a chemical business. It is a true cross-section of the expat business world – and the people who work in it – in today’s Hungary.

Jost Ernst Lammers

The Jury  

The award has been blessed with an expert jury that has largely remained unchanged since the launch. Írisz Lippai-Nagy, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary; Dale A. Martin, president of the German-Hungarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and president and CEO of Siemens Hungary; and our very own Balázs Román, have all been in place since 2014. For many years, László Szabó, then Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, was also a jury member, until his promotion to the role of Hungary’s Ambassador to the United States made that impossible. This year we are delighted to welcome Róbert Ésik, the president of HIPA, as a new jury member, further cementing HIPA’s role in the awards. The fifth and final place is, by tradition, taken by the previous year’s winner, meaning Marc de Bastos Eckstein will have a vote in picking his successor.

Jörg Bauer

Roll Call

Last year’s Expat CEO of the Year was Marc de Bastos Eckstein, the German-Brazilian head of Thyssenkrupp Components Hungary Kft. In a weird piece of gala trivia, he became the third consecutive winner who was at least part-German, and the first whose Christian name did not begin with the letter “J”.

His immediate predecessor were Jörg Bauer (then CEO of GE Hungary, now CEO of Tungsram Group) in 2017, another German, albeit head of an American multinational.

Yet another German, Jost Ernst Lammers, of Budapest Airport Zrt., the operator of Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, won the 2016 title.

The inaugural title in 2015 was presented to Spanish national Javier Gonzáles Pareja. Then CEO of Bosch Magyarország, today he is the president of the BOSCH Group in Spain and Portugal, as well as president of the German Chamber of Commerce for Spain.

Marc de Bastos Eckstein

HIPA Local Partnership Award

2018: Frank Müller, head of the regional office of the VW Group Eastern Europe.

2017: Ekkehard Philipp, then CFO of Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Hungary Kft.

2016: Nagoyuki Takeuchi, then CEO of Magyar Suzuki Zrt.

2015: Kersten Bachman, CEO of TAKATA Safety Systems Hungary Kft.

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