Xpat Interview: Andrew Prest

  • 5 Aug 2003 12:00 PM
Xpat Interview: Andrew Prest
Andrew was born in Burnley England, and graduated in politics at the University of London, specialising in Central and Eastern Europe. He began his career at Xerox, based in Budapest, firstly in the Hungarian, then their regional operation in various sales and marketing roles between 1993-2001. In 2001 he moved to Axelero Internet (now T-Online) as general manager of the residential division until 2004.

Andrew joined the Wallis Group in 2005 as managing director of Polar Mobil, the Saab importer for Central Eastern Europe. Polar Mobil was re-branded as Wallis Automotive Europe in 2012 and besides still managing spare parts distribution for the now defunct Saab brand, the company has begun to represent the truck manufacturer Isuzu and the SUV maker Ssangyong. At least two further automotive brands will be added to the portfolio later this year, neither of which is currently present in Hungary. In the medium term Wallis expects to represent at least one Chinese automaker in CEE, as that country becomes an increasingly serious market industry player. Mr Prest has been a member of the board of directors at Wallis since 2011

Andrews hobbies include playing the piano, running, fitness, squash, and drinking Hungarian wine.

1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?
October 20th 1993, British Airways!

2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
No, Hungary is my first ‘posting’. I was planning to stay for a year or two in between graduating and returning to university to do post-grad studies, but I’ve never felt inclined to move on, I’m still having far too much fun to think about leaving.

3. What surprised you most about Hungary?
The social codes. Greeting strangers in a lift, wishing your colleague a jó étvágyat when he peels open a chocolate bar. People are much more attentive and genuinely friendlier than at home.

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
Take a walk along the Danube promenade in Pest at sunset and admire the view of the Castle and the Buda hills. Sample as many of the medicinal spas as possible - the Rudas and the Széchenyi are absolutely unique and a must do.

5. What is your favourite Hungarian food?
Hortobágy meat pancakes – yum!

6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?
A bottle of bubbly just in case. You never know when there might be something to celebrate.

7. What is your favourite Hungarian word?

8. What do you miss the most from home?
Nothing really. In the era of cheap air travel it is easy to go home regularly to fill-up on the food, drink, sights and sounds that I might otherwise miss being away.

9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
Whenever I have a tough day at work I flirt with becoming a professional gardener: fresh air, zero stress.

10. What's a job you would definitely never want?
Mr. Matolcsy’s

11. Where did you spend your last vacation?
I had a business trip to Tokyo so I stayed on for a few days holiday and explored the city. It is a vast place and the pace of life is very hectic, but Japan is nowhere near as culturally impenetrable as people believe. I felt quite at home there.

12. Where do you hope to spend your next one?
Majorca. Not in one of the lively resorts, but rather in the quieter northern part of the island.

13. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
I was an adolescent when Top-Gun was released and like most boys at that time I immediately resolved to become a fighter pilot.

14. What can't you resist?
Chocolate. Friends and colleagues know not to leave any lying around, or it might vanish.

15. Red wine or white?
Red in winter, white in summer.

16. Book or movie?

17. Morning person or night person?

18. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
Roma integration here in Hungary.

19. Buda side or Pest side?
That’s a hard choice. The contrast is part of the city’s magic.

20. What would you say is your personal motto?
Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. (copyright Mohammed Ali)

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