“It was a really big surprise and I was not prepared for this,” said Ekkehard Philipp, receiving his Local Partnership Award accolade from HIPA President Róbert Ésik, at the BBJ Expat CEO of the Year gala. “I am very grateful and deeply touched and almost speechless, which is unusual for me,” he added.
Founded by the Budapest Business Journal, backed by official event partner the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA), which provides the Local Partnership Award for involving local suppliers in the value chain, and sponsored by Budapest Airport Zrt., Citibank, PwC, the Corinthia Hotel Budapest, Nespresso, Zwack Unicum Nyrt. and Prime Time Communications, the BBJ Expat CEO of the Year awards were held for the third time on Friday (February 10) at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest.
“Mercedes-Benz and Hungary belong together. We are here to stay,” Phillip said, adding that it was not a surprise that the company was doubling the capacity of its Hungarian plant, which is a “very positive message” for the country.
That said, he did warn that there is room for Hungary to improve in certain areas, such as the lack of manpower, the education system, as well as the implementation of the public administration.
His company has been a significant player in the Hungarian automotive industry, which is considered the chief engine for the Hungarian economy. Last year Daimler announced it would be investing a further HUF 1 billion at its base in Kecskemét, adding a second plant to its Hungarian operation, and thus creating approximately 2,500 new workplaces.