Taking Crisis as an Opportunity and Keeping Motivation High


Sustainability, changing supply chains, and the contributions of female leaders in times of crisis were the topics of the "Female Business Leaders Conference" organized last week on International Women's Day by the network "women@duihk" at the German-Hungarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce together with DialogUngarn.

The event, which was also supported by UniCredit Bank, the Hungarian Business Leader Forum (HBLF) and the Association of German Women Entrepreneurs (VdU), focused on demonstrating how female leaders have tackled current challenges in times of crisis and helped lead the company through the crisis.

Mariann Peller, founder of the Virtuosos classical young talent competition and keynote speaker at the event, described the challenges in the early days and in the internationalization of her company, which is now active in 11 countries. She expressed her conviction that running a company was no more difficult for a woman than for a man; she had included her children in her activities.

However, it was very important for her to keep her dreams and to work with the right partners who share the same values. In this way, she has been able to realize a large part of her dreams over the years and has also overcome well the recent crises that have affected her international work.

Sustainability - a Must for Companies in All Sectors

In a panel discussion moderated by Marie-Theres Thiell (DialogUngarn), four women reported on their companies' efforts on the road to sustainable business. Zsuzsa Elek (ESG Solutions) emphasized that the issue of ESG was putting increasing pressure on companies as more and more regulations had to be met in terms of environmental sustainability, social standards, and good corporate governance.

Rita Mayerné Katona (UniCredit Bank) illustrated with concrete measures how the bank itself has achieved more sustainability. For example, Unicredit has implemented a "Mummy is back" program, which allows mothers to work part-time or completely remotely after their maternity leave. The bank also does without plastic bottles - which would otherwise have covered the area of 24 football fields. For companies implementing ESG standards also means – from a banking perspective – access to better conditions on the market.

According to Mária Kirchner, at car manufacturer, Audi, sustainability and CO2 neutrality is above all also a question of the product portfolio. The company already produces several electric vehicles and plans to expand its range to 30 electrified models by 2025. At the Győr plant, the carmaker already uses renewable energies on a large scale.

Jessica Liepelt ( from VdU Westphalia came from Germany. She emphasized that, in her understanding, sustainability also means respect for resources. That is why her company produces in the EU and Turkey, not in Asia, and the offices are heated with steam generated during production.

Quick Reaction is What Counts

Another panel discussion, moderated by Hedvig Szakács (SZPH Consulting and vice president of DUIHK), focused on a topic that has challenged almost all industries in recent years – the vulnerability of supply chains. Andrea Agárdi-Nyárai, reported that her company FATH only sells machine components produced in China only in Asia, while products for the European market are manufactured within the EU.

Tamara Vass from the DIY retailer Praktiker and Valéria Gergely from the pasta producer Gergely Gasztronomi agreed that in crises it is above all a matter of reacting quickly to the changes, but also of cohesion within the company in order to emerge from difficult times in the best possible way - regardless of the industry. It is not only the supply chains that have changed but also customer preferences.

Marie-Theres Thiell's interview with Andrea Solti Istenes, country chair of Shell Hungary and President of HBLF, focused on the question: Does the crisis strengthen female leadership?

She made it clear that it is not about having the same number of skirts and trousers in the company, but that diversity is needed in companies to cultivate more different leadership styles and qualities. The role of a manager in a crisis is to keep the motivation of the employees high and to give them energy, but of course also to ensure that the company's goals are achieved. But they are also human beings, so it is essential to pay attention to their own resources.

Barbara Zollmann, CEO of the DUIHK, concluded by thanking all participants for their contributions, which were peppered with many personal and motivating stories. Women and men contribute equally as leaders to solving today's important issues. The decisive qualities in a crisis are agility and people leadership - qualities that were impressively presented by the speakers and panelists.

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