ABB Hungaryʼs country managing director Taira-Julia Lammi won the BBJ Expat CEO of the Year award at the fifth annual Expat CEO Gala, held at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest on Friday night, with Kannan Prabhakar receiving the HIPA Partnership award.
The gala dinner featured Hungaryʼs creme de la creme of expat company heads, and a number of distinguished guests, such as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Levente Magyar, and Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency head Róbert Ésik.
U.S. Ambassador David Cornstein was one of five ambassadors attending, along with the representatives of Austria, Germany, France and Poland.
At the beginning of the night, Levente Magyar lauded the effect of investors in Hungary, saying "Thank you for all the work you put in the country; without you the state of the economy would not be in the position it is in right now."
Head of Apollo Tyres Hungary Kannan Prabhakar thanked HIPA for being a "helping hand" and praised his companyʼs performance in Hungary as being "much better than expected" when he received the award.
After the main courses were served, the galaʼs main event started, with a screening of short videos of the five candidates for the Expat CEO of the Year award. In addition to eventual winner Lammi, the other short-listed candidates were: BASF Hungary managing director Thomas Narbeshuber; Blackrock Budapest Head Melanie Seymour; Citi Central Europe CEO Kevin A. Murray; and Tata Consultancy Servicesʼ Hungary Branch managing director Prabal Datta.
The winner was selected by a professional jury of five just 30 minutes before the gala. The panel consisted of BBJ CEO Balázs Román, American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary CEO Írisz Lippai-Nagy, HIPA president Róbert Ésik, German-Hungarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce President Dale A. Martin, and last yearʼs Expat CEO of the Year Marc de Bastos Eckstein.
In her acceptance speech, Lammi praised the milieu of the gala, noting that she felt as if she was "at the Oscars". She thanked her colleagues at ABB for their work, but noted that her family was one of the most important factors in her success. "One needs to have a good and secure home base as well," Lammi said. Regarding Hungary, she noted the the country "is riding the positive wave of the energy revolution and the fourth industrial revolution".
Lammi is the first woman, and the first person from Finland, to win the BBJ Expat CEO of the Year award.