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Wish List 2018: Ethics, Calmness and a Good Breakfast

2017 proved to be a dynamic year for many in the Hungarian business world, but that is already history; what might the next 12 months bring? The Budapest Business Journal has quizzed personalities from a wide variety of sectors to find out their hopes and aspirations for the Chinese Year of the Dog.

Dr. Ákos Niklai
Past president of the Hungarian Hotel and Restaurant Association, VP Business Hungary (MGYOSZ).

Hospitality Needs Convention Center, High-quality Training

2017 was another successful year for both in-bound and domestic tourism. In-bound showed steady growth from all international markets, with major sports events such as the FINA World Championship [swimming] and Formula 1 making significant contributions.

Budapest continues to remain one of the most popular and safe cities in Europe, and is increasingly becoming a successful destination for conference and [what we term] incentive [i.e. corporate reward] tourism.

However, I – like everyone in the industry – believe there is a need for a big convention center in Budapest, which would significantly help to boost revenues. This needs to have a capacity of around 5,000, as opposed to our largest venue currently of 1,500 or so. The plans are there, but they need final government approval.

Such a center would make Budapest much more attractive for the MICE [Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions] segment. This would support higher revenues in the industry, which is necessary to improve the profitability of hotels and restaurants in Hungary.

In the past year or two, the shortage of both skilled and unskilled labor has been a huge challenge for everyone in hospitality. In spite of significant increases in salaries and favorable business conditions, we are still unable to attract enough chefs and waiters of the right quality: in fact, even more of them have decided to work abroad! So, I want to see us work hard to improve the attractiveness and reputation of the industry, with an increased emphasis on the quality of both vocational and high-level education to meet demands.

Dr. Frank Hegedűs
The Rev. Dr. Frank Hegedűs, Chaplain and Area Dean, Saint Margaret’s Anglican Episcopal Church, Budapest

Christians by Deed, not Word

I suppose a cleric like me is more likely to have a New Year’s prayer than wish, although the cynics among us might question the efficacy of either. Still, in times like these, why take chances…? So, my fervent prayer for 2018 is that we Christians throughout the world preach the Gospel by action more than word; that truth at long last be sorted from fiction; and that everyone just learns to relax a bit. Nyugi…

Zsuzsa Kecsmar
Zsuzsa Kecsmar is co-founder and chief operating officer of Antavo, a retention marketing software for retailers and brands.

Ex-pats, Jobs Await You!

We’re based in Szeged, and in the past year I think most companies have been feeling the labor market is very tight when it comes to recruiting people with the right skills. We’ve expanded from 12 to 22 employees over the last year, and we got to hire some people who wanted to move back home after years of working abroad. It’s great that their expertise can help us today.

Our company operates on the global market, and it is hard to find colleagues in, for example, marketing, sales and client-facing roles who have previously done anything like what we’re doing. Hungary is a small country and a small market, so companies here mostly haven’t been able to grow that big, unlike, say Poland, where four times as many people live; that means four times more opportunities for local companies. I believe larger companies produce a more qualified workforce, with broader experience. However, I think there are more and more companies like us, which are working globally, which means great potential but also international competition. I think this also helps develop highly-skilled professionals.

I really hope all companies can find the right people in 2018, but I do wonder if it might be tougher recruiting this year. We will certainly need more skilled professionals ourselves.  

Zsófia Lakatos
Zsófia Lakatos is president of the Hungarian Public Relations Association, founder and CEO of Emerald Public Relations

Communications Faces Ethical Challenges

The public relations industry has been facing new challenges in the past few years from social media and fake news to so-called “influencer PR” (where companies use a celebrity to praise their brand or products) and “native advertising” – paid-for text seeming to be independent editorial. The latter two in particular both raise ethical questions.   

In 2018, I hope and expect the industry to improve its reaction to these challenges and emerge stronger from the communication competition than ever before. The key players of the PR-market must cooperate to find and protect a strong position in the communication arena.

I am also a passionate advocate for strengthening the role of corporate social responsibility. This just makes good sense, whatever the size of your company. Happy employees work better. I hope to see the Hungarian government take the lead in this, and encourage real cooperation with companies to spread the idea of ethical business behavior and corporate citizenship. In the long-run, Hungary will only be successful business-wise if ethical business models are followed – and expected – by everyone. Any other way will eventually lead to poor performance levels and disappointment. This country needs good people, good companies and good and ethical communications. I hope we advance on these fronts in 2018.  

Szabolcs Kun
Szabolcs Kun is CEO and founder of Arenim Technologies, the Swedish-Hungarian provider of the award-winning CryptTalk voice call-encryption software.

Face Security Issues Calmly and in a Timely Way

As a player in the IT industry, I hope people will stop fearing and dreading the security risks we face every day, and begin to face up to them calmly and professionally – become fully security conscious. This way we can negate threats most effectively and efficiently.

As a manager, I hope to keep a strict work-life balance this year, even when rushed, and to meet satisfied people around me – at my company, in my family and among my friends.

Klemens Wersonig
Klemens Wersonig, founder & CEO, TARGET Executive Search, a regional head-hunting company, headquartered in Budapest

An Austrian’s Hopes for Hungary: Breakfast and Service

As an Austrian who has lived here for 29years, my wishes for Hungary in 2018 are:

Back to the future! I wish that Hungary comes back into the heart of Europe, because that’s where the future lies. As a convinced European and in love with the country, I can only say “Hungary we want you back! Hungary, we really miss you!” as a partner for our common European future. It is fine to be critical and demand change and improvement, but be at the heart of Europe and show it.

Wake up Budapest! Good breakfast places are still missing in the city. You may say that there are quite a few around, and some even serve breakfast all day. Yes, but most open too late, at 8:30 or even later. A breakfast place must open at 7 a.m. at the latest. In German, it is called Frühstück, it means early bite, otherwise we would call it Spätstück.

Good service competition! I wish that Hungary could implement a competition for the best service. We all, the consumers, should be able to vote with an app and then have the Oscar for the best supermarket, coffee shop, restaurant, you name it. What a consumer revolution that would be!

Agnes Elam
Agnes Elam is associate professor, at the department of International Studies, Budapest Metropolitan University.

Education for Application, not Tick Box

I would like to see academic and higher education more directed to the needs of a modern Hungarian economy, including the digital economy. For example, in our secondary schools there should be more focus in the national curricula on application of knowledge, rather than on knowledge for its own sake. Also, we should further enhance teacher training with a focus on key economic innovative sectors, along with more EU and international cooperation.

I’d like to see more talented Hungarian and international students not only in top-level studies in Hungary, but then staying on here to make the economy stronger.

There should be more incentives to increase student and educational exchanges between Hungarian higher education and international top-level universities. The Hungarian economy would then benefit more from international technological spill-overs and it would enhance Hungary’s attractiveness for international research and development projects.

Nothing else, except health and happiness for my colleagues and students all over the world!