ExxonMobil’s Budapest Global Business Center Proving ‘Part of the Solution’

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Lead country manager Jeroen Kirschbaum tells the Budapest Business Journal what it is that makes Hungary such a great location for international SSCs, and talks about the new “world-class” office and ExxonMobil’s COVID learnings.

Jeroen Kirschbaum

BBJ: ExxonMobil has signed to move into purpose built new offices. When is this due, and has the COVID crisis caused you to review your space needs at all?

Jeroen Kirschbaum: We’re excited to move to a new world-class facility in the Váci Corridor early in 2022. In terms of COVID learnings, flexibility seems to become even more important. We have the unique opportunity to incorporate such insights in the design of the new building, such as the importance of optimizing the space for collaboration, learning, and innovation.

BBJ: When do you expect to be back at full strength in the office?

JK: The safety and well-being of our employees remains the number one priority, so the return to office approach depends on the virus situation and government regulations. We have provided ergo equipment for home offices and extra screens for productivity, but also have the safeguards in place to offer a safe working environment in the office and thus can provide employees a flexible choice.  Previously we have given employees full flexibility to work from the office or work from home, at their discretion. However, with the current situation in Hungary, we have recommended employees to be a good corporate citizen and stay home as much as possible.

BBJ: Will any staff be offered the possibility of permanent or part-time home office work?

JK: Our Workplace Flexibility program has always provided a lot of flexibility for employees. That said, there will be many learnings from the COVID work situation that will inform the future of work and we’re committed to find a balance that incorporates the “best of both worlds”. While there are benefits from the home office, many employees also long for the connections in the workplace and ability to collaborate with colleagues and friends. We are convinced that the workplace has tremendous benefits for collaboration and is instrumental in retaining a high performing organization.

Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) Committee drives inclusion across its team of 80+ nationalities.

BBJ: What makes Hungary and the region attractive as a BSS destination?

JK: Over the past 16 years, ExxonMobil’s global business center has significantly matured and is now at the heart of many processes across the company’s worldwide operations. Ongoing successes in a business friendly environment have continued to drive work to Budapest, recently reaching the milestone of the 2000th employee. In addition to a highly skilled and well-educated workforce, the organization has demonstrated the capability and competencies to drive synergies across processes and enable digital transformation. We have a diverse and loyal workforce of more than 80 different nationalities, and more than 500 employees with more than 10 years of experience with ExxonMobil. Hungary remains cost competitive, enabled by the strong working relationship between government and business through organizations such as the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency and the American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary. The language capabilities and access to customers around the world further supports our presence in Hungary.

BBJ: Do you see any threats to this? Are you happy that the education system, for example; can it continue to produce the number of skilled workers you need?

JK: It is critical to remain competitive, both in terms of skills and costs. Hungary is well positioned to be a global leader in shared services, but will need to deliver in key focus areas for the sector, such as digital transformation and innovation, and make meaningful progress in the evolution towards “intelligent enterprise” services. This is where the partnerships with HIPA and AmCham are really important.

BBJ: How do you see the future of the SSC/BSC sector, in Hungary and globally?

JK: The sector has matured a lot over the past decade. For example, we currently have more than 12,000 years of collective ExxonMobil experience in Hungary. This is enabling the attraction of more senior and higher complexity roles to Budapest. There is also a lot of opportunity as the pandemic is accelerating the “virtualization” of work. While the value of in-person relationships remains high, technology and tools are making it easier to partner with customers and colleagues across geographical boundaries, better positioning Hungary to be the heart of business operations across Europe and even globally.

BBJ: What efforts are you involved in to raise awareness of both the sector and ExxonMobil?

JK: Our Global Business Center has become a trusted partner within our corporation, with more and more high added value, sometimes unique jobs coming to our center. We have an integrated, robust employer branding and recruitment strategy and extensive university ambassador program, through which we are engaging with students already at the universities. We have launched our own ExxonMobil Hungary Facebook site and external website. We are also putting a lot of focus on internal communication, involving our employees, who are our best advocates. We are participating at various initiatives, such as the BSS project managed by AmCham.

BBJ: What are ExxonMobil’s future plans for Hungary?

JK: We have a long term commitment to Hungary and are excited about the future opportunities.  While the oil and gas industry is facing challenging times, the team in Hungary is well-positioned to increase the competitiveness of the Corporation. With that, we have concrete plans to expand the scope and scale of roles in the near future.

Pillar – New home of ExxonMobil’s Global Business Center from early 2022.

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