XpatLoop Interview: Mr. Zsolt Szalay, Sales CEO of SPAR Hungary

  • 1 Mar 2017 11:00 AM
XpatLoop Interview: Mr. Zsolt Szalay, Sales CEO of SPAR Hungary
Zsolt Szalay was born in 1971 in the town of Orosháza. He studied first at the Corvinus University of Budapest, then at the Robert Schuman University of Strasbourg and the University of St. Gallen.

He then first went to Zürich for a six-month professional traineeship at Mercedes-Benz, and became the product manager of L’Oréal Hungary. He also worked at Porsche Hungária and Michelin Europe - as a marketing manager at the former and head of marketing of the latter. He joined MOL in 2002, where he had job positions linked to retail trade since 2006. He first worked as the managing director of MOL Romania for almost four years in Bucharest, and then acted as the head of the local subsidiary in Italy.

He returned to Hungary after eight years of absence, in 2013. He joined the SPAR team in November 2014 and has been appointed the head of sales responsible for INTERSPAR hypermarkets on 9 March 2015. From 1 January 2017 he is going to be managing director responsible for sales, overseeing the areas of INTERSPAR hypermarket sales, SPAR supermarket sales, Franchise sales and online sales (introduction currently in progress).

1. Where did you grow up?
I was born on 24 October 1971 in Orosháza and I lived there until 1989. My parents still live there and I regularly visit them.

2. If you could be an expat anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
I have already been an expat twice in my life. As a student, a studies for 1 year in Switzerland and 1 year in France. Then, after starting to work, I live for 4 years in Romania and another 4 years in Italy with my family, because of my job.
If I were to become an expat again, I would be happy live anywhere in Europe.

3. What would you miss most if you moved away from Hungary?
While I was living as an expat, I missed my friends the most. As well as Hungarian cuisine and culture of course. But it was easy to overcome these obstacles, since I moved abroad together with my family.

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
When I have foreign visitors in Hungary, I typically show them the House of Terror exhibition, the Parliament Building and the Great Market Hall in Budapest. We typically also go to one of the spas of Budapest or the Castle District, to one of the restaurants located there.

5. What is your favourite food?
I like oriental food, but I can also have a goulash soup multiple days a week.

6. What is your favourite sport / form of exercise?
Boxing and cardio workouts.

7. What is your favourite place in Hungary?
My favourite place in Hungary is the house where I live with my family, in District XXII of Budapest.

8. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
I am fond of listening to and playing music, so I would love to play in a band in front of audience and entertain people.

9. What’s a job you would definitely never want?
I could not do a job that would require isolation. I like everyday business and meeting people.

10. Where did you spend your last vacation?
In Italy.

11. Where do you hope to spend your next one?
I am going to travel to London with my family.

12. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
Today: AC/DC, Attila Till: Tiszta Szívvel (Kills on Wheels), my family.
Before: Guns N' Roses, The Silence of the Lambs, learning by doing.

13. Apart of temptation what can’t you resist?
If my wife or my daughters ask me anything.

14. Red wine or white?

15. Book or movie?
A movie.

16. Morning person or night person?
Morning person.

17. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
I feel good when I can do something that makes people feel happier.

18. Buda or Pest side?

19. Which achievement in your life are you most pleased about?
My parents raising me.

20. What would you say is your personal motto?
The success of yesterday will not be enough today.

  • How does this interview make you feel?