And the Winner is… Our Community

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And so another BBJ Expat CEO of the Year awards gala is over; we have our first British winner (named on the very day the United Kingdom left the European Union, make of that what you will) and only our second female CEO in BlackRock’s very deserving Melanie Seymour.

As I wrote in the previous issue, we would have made history whoever the jury picked, as we have never had a Dutch or French title holder. And either of Romke Noordhuis (ExxonMobil) or Charles Wassen (Dana Hungary) would have been worthy winners themselves. I said on January 31 that there can only be one winner on the night, but our two runners up deserve plenty or recognition for their own outstanding contributions.

Congratulations, of course, are also due to the other person to walk away with a trophy that night, Dale A. Martin, the president-CEO of Siemens Zrt., who won the HIPA Partnership award from our official event partner, the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency.

It is, perhaps, a sad little cliché to suggest everyone is a winner (and I dare say Romke and Charles will have a much more personal take on that), but I do believe that, at the very least, our expat CEO community is a winner from the evening.

We had more attendees than ever before (standing room only was a well-worn phrase from my days starting out in provincial journalism back in the late 1980s and we were slightly delayed at the start while some quick rearranging was undertaken). That proves, I think, the popularity and the relevance of the gala.

Hungary is a different place from when we launched the award six years ago; the beneficial impact that foreign direct investment and expat CEOs have on the economy is now well recognized, as British Ambassador Iain Lindsay alluded to in his speech. But there is still a sense that an event that serves the expat CEO community not only has its place, but is a necessary outlet.

Certainly, that was the impression I got from many of the conversations I had after the formal part of the evening had ended. The sight of the cheese plates disappearing down the Corinthia’s magnificent staircase as a hard core group of CEOs determined they would carry on the party in the lobby bar, even as work began to dismantle the staging and lighting up in the Grand Ballroom, only underlines that. Check out this issue for our gala coverage, interviews, and photos galore.

We are sorry about the host (me), but he is all we can get on short notice. What I will say is that it I have served this community in one way or another since I first came to Hungary in 1998, but most especially since I took over as editor-in-chief of the Budapest Business Journal in September 2016. It continues to be an honor to do so. Congratulations to you all, you are all winners in your way (albeit not quite as much as Melanie was).

Robin Marshall

Editor-in-chief

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