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A day to recognize expat CEOs

BBJ and HIPA team up again for the second annual Expat CEO of the Year awards Gala.

At the January 22 gala, from left: BBJ Publisher Tamás Botka, HIPA CEO Róbert Ésik, BBJ CEO Balázs Román, AmCham CEO Írisz Lippai-Nagy, Budapest Airport CEO Jost Lammers, German-Hungarian Chamber President Dale Martin, Minstry of Foreign Affairs Secretary of State Dr. László Szabó and Bosch Magyarország CEO Javier González Pareja.

When the Budapest Business Journal and the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA) chose to recognize the contributions that foreign business leaders make to the Hungarian economy, they singled out two names from an exemplary group: Jost Lammers, who has helped pilot Budapest Airport to new heights in both traffic and services, and Naoyuki Takeuchi, who helped drive Suzuki’s Vitara to the front of the pack in sales and production.

Lammers, CEO of Budapest Airport, was named the Expat CEO of the Year at a January 22 gala, which was organized by the BBJ in cooperation with HIPA, and hosted by the Corinthia Hotel Budapest.

Takeuchi, the CEO of Suzuki Hungary, received the HIPA Local Partnership award, in recognition of his efforts to work with Hungarian suppliers.

This was the second annual presentation of the awards, which were created by the BBJ in partnership with HIPA. Audi, PwC, and PrimeTime Communications, along with the Corinthia, also sponsor of the awards and gala.

“We believe that expat CEOs, with their international experience, their skills, their knowledge and perhaps more than anything their leadership, have helped make Hungary an immeasurably better place in which to do business. We think that should be applauded, honored and encouraged, and that is why we launched this award a year ago,” Robin Marshall, the BBJ’s associate editor and master of ceremonies for the evening, told the audience of nearly 150 business leaders and officials. “In HIPA we have found an organization equally keen to promote excellence and improve competitiveness.”

This year’s Expat CEO winner, Lammers, has overseen a complete remodeling of the Budapest Airport, helping it to earn international recognition while also setting passenger records. Upon receiving his award, Lammers thanked his staff for helping bring increasing numbers of people to Budapest, a city that he said he loves. “I believe this award is not so much the acknowledgement of my personal achievement,” Lammers said. “It is much more for all the people working at Budapest Airport, doing an excellent job every day for this wonderful gateway to Hungary.”

Earlier in the evening, HIPA CEO Róbert Ésik presented the special HIPA Local Partnership award, created by his organization to recognize foreign firms who make use of local suppliers.

Impacting hundreds of thousands

In seeking to promote foreign investment in Hungary, Ésik said, his office works with many expat CEOs, whose decisions “ultimately affect hundreds of thousands of individuals” by creating jobs in this country. He added that, for his agency, “2014 was a record year, with 60 positive investment decisions. We managed to surpass that and concluded 67 projects in the last year.”

Among those working with Ésik this year was Takeuchi, who received the HIPA Local Partnership award. Appointed CEO of Magyar Suzuki earlier this year, Takeuchi has overseen the production and sales of the new Vitara, which quickly became one of the most popular cars in its class in Hungary. According to Takeuchi, Suzuki has successful partnerships with roughly 80 local suppliers, who “employ a total number of 30,000 families. Without these suppliers, Suzuki would not have become the company it is today.”

The Expat CEO of the Year award was chosen by a jury consisting of Dr. László Szabó, deputy minister and parliamentary secretary of state at the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; 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 CEO of Siemens, Hungary; Javier González Pareja, CEO of Bosch Hungary and winner of the Expat CEO of the Year 2015; and Balázs Román, publisher of the BBJ.

“As always, choosing the best from among the impressive group of expat CEOs in Hungary is difficult,” Román said. “We are very fortunate to have this kind of talent serving our economy.”

Runners-up for the Expat CEO of the Year for this year included an impressive group: Tanja Vainio of ABB Hungary, Jesper Hassellund Mikkelsen of Lego Manufacturing Kft., and Lee Sang Il of Hankook Tire Hungary Ltd.