Editorial: Awards Season Comes to an End


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They say the Oscars marks the end of the awards season, but not for us. Depending on when you get your copy of the Budapest Business Journal, we are either making the last-minute preparations for the ninth Expat CEO of the Year awards gala dinner or taking a deep breath, having just completed it.

The gala takes place on Friday evening, March 24, in its usual, glorious setting of the Grand Ballroom at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest. At the time of writing, I don’t know the identity of the winner. Nobody does. The final decision is not taken until the final minutes before the gala starts (the ballroom doors open at 8 p.m.) when our awards jury gathers for one last time. And it is quite some jury.

Írisz Lippai-Nagy, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary, has been with us since we began planning the first award in the fall of 2014. András Sávos, president of the German-Hungarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, joined in 2020. István Joó, the CEO of our official event partner, the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency, came on board last year, and they are joined by our very own Balázs Román, CEO of the BBJ. By tradition, the previous year’s winner takes the fifth and final place on the jury, meaning Giacomo Pedranzini, CEO of Kometa 99, has a voice in picking his successor.

And it is Giacomo who will announce the person who takes on the mantle of his title, another tradition we have followed over the years. The chances are that when our audience hears the winner’s name for the first time, it will be the same for me. On a couple of occasions, a passing jury member has grabbed me and whispered the identity in my ear, but most years, they do not. I prefer it that way; I get to feel a little more of the suspense and tension in the room, even if I have no skin in the game.

This year’s shortlist of three nominees (Veronika Spanarova, Citi country officer; Andreas Szakácsi, of Claas Hungária; and Matt Zeller, of Novartis Hungary) offers a mix of gender, nationality and industrial sectors. Whoever is picked will be a worthy winner.

We are also introducing a new prize this year, the Community Award. It will go to someone who may be a business leader, the head of a foundation, or in charge of a business organization. Their focus might be diversity, inclusivity, disability, sustainability, or a combination of any and all of these.

What is certain is that they are among the most influential members of our remarkable CEO community, contributing to bringing and binding it together. In our estimation, they demonstrate both leadership and impactfulness. 

If you are with us at the Corinthia on Friday evening, you will find out in person who will be the first-ever Community Award winner and who will be the ninth Expat CEO of the Year. But don’t worry if you are not. We will ensure it is all over social media, and there will be extensive coverage in the next issue of the Budapest Business Journal.

If you are there, I hope to share a word or two with you in person. As the master of ceremonies, I’ll be the one up and down the steps to the stage like a yo-yo all evening!

Robin Marshall


This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of March 24, 2023.

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