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Gala Awards and Going Green

Analysis

Assuming you are reading this on publication day, September 24, we are just hours away from finding out the name of the 2021 BBJ Expat CEO of the Year. The final decision will be taken by our awards jury (on which I do not sit) in the minutes before the start of the invitation-only black-tie event at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest.

I will be hosting that evening, which means I have been juggling my preparations for the gala with editing this issue of the paper. Whoever the jury eventually picks, he will be a worthy winner. (That is not a slip of the fingers on the keyboard, by the way. Although our last two winners have both been women, this year we have an all-male line-up; that’s just the way it sometimes happens.)

The shortlist, which was announced back in January (ironically, on the original date when we had hoped to hold the gala before COVID intervened), is undoubtedly a strong one. Our finalists are Prabal Datta of Tata Consultancy Services, Daniel Korioth of Bosch Group, and Erik Slooten of Deutsche Telekom IT Solutions Hungary.

Although we have had Germans take the top spot on several occasions, and we had a winner from Bosch at our inaugural gala back in 2014, we have never had a Dutch or Indian winner. I can’t wait to discover who our next title holder will be later tonight.

* * *

In the Special Report inside this issue, we take a look at a subject close to the heart of many of our readers, I am sure: Green Business. Following on from our interview with the Budapest Stock Exchange’s green advisor Balázs Bozsik in the last issue, we take a deeper dive into sustainability and ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) issues.

We investigate the threat and opportunities ESG presents energy companies such as Hungarian oil and gas giant MOL. We look at how sustainability accreditation is becoming an inevitable “must-have,” not just for modern offices but increasingly logistics buildings, and with others likely soon to follow.

As one of our interviewees says, there are both “push” and “pull” factors at work here. Green offices are where people want to work, and in a tight labor market, employers have to meet that desire. If that is what tenants want, then developers must provide it. At the same time, investors increasingly want sustainable buildings because they command higher returns and are easier to fill. And over all of that, increasingly strict regulations are coming into play to meet EU and national commitments to CO2 reduction.

A handful of years ago, few had heard of ESG reporting; today, it is still restricted mainly to the very largest multinationals and group-level enterprises. Still, with the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow just five or so weeks away, it isn’t going to slip off the radar anytime soon. Indeed, it is hard to shift the idea that, increasingly, it will become a matter all companies will have to address.

Channeling my inner David Attenborough, let me put it this way: For the sake of our planet, the future must be green; we have to make it our business, and our businesses must make it so.

Robin Marshall

Editor-in-chief

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of September 24, 2021.

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