Xpat Interview: Melanie Seymour, Former MD, Head of BlackRock Budapest

  • 14 May 2019 1:19 PM
Xpat Interview: Melanie Seymour, Former MD, Head of BlackRock Budapest
Melanie Seymour was responsible for establishing the BlackRock presence and building out the footprint in Hungary. In those days she split her time between Budapest and London with her husband and two sons.

Melanie has over 30 years’ experience in Finance and Banking holding senior roles in Technology, Operations, and Change Management as well as running her own business.

She set up and ran a mortgage distribution business with one partner and over 8 years grew the business to a team of over 200 with 3 offices throughout the UK and a turnover in excess of £20m 

She was Co Chair of the EMEA chapter of BlackRock internal women’s committee (WIN ) until 2019 where she lead a programme of events to support women ( and men ) in their career journey through the firm.

She is passionate about education and developing the next generation of leaders, mentoring a number of men and women both internally and externally.

In 2015 Melanie was recognized as one of Brummells Top 30 Inspiring Women in the City. She joined the Advisory Board of Women in Banking and Finance in 2017 after three years as Vice President.

In 2018 Melanie was awarded the Knight of Cross from the Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic as an acknowledgement of the valuable contribution to the modernization and improvement of the Hungarian economy, the financial system and the strengthening of the innovation capability of the country.”

She established strong relationship with various Universities in Budapest and worked closely with Hungarian Embassies abroad as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to relocate Hungarians back to Hungary.

1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?
I arrived in Hungary on 3rd January 2017 with a laptop and a vision. I came as CEO of BlackRock Budapest to create a new office and build our presence in the region.

2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
I lived in Canada for a year when I was 19 but was showjumping rather than a business expat. I also worked in Krakow for 2 years but never truly relocated so wouldn’t be able to describe myself as an expat.

3. What surprised you most about Hungary?
The weather - I never expected it to be so hot in the summer. The wine - who knew the best wine in the world is here.

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
A speed boat down the Danube, explore the castle district and the Buda Hills, Walk to Parliament at night to see the spectacle of it lit up, drink wine and eat ice cream.

5. What is your favourite Hungarian food?
Lecso and I have learnt to cook it to a level that I can compete with many Grandmothers 

6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?
Kreinbacher and Szepsy.

7. What is your favourite Hungarian word?

8. What do you miss the most from home?
Family, friends, my house and meat from my Dad’s farm.

9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
I went through school wanting to be a Vet and still think it would have been great. I would also love to work for MI6 - the first female Bond ?

10. What's a job you would definitely never want?
My assistant - I couldn’t survive without her and know I could never do the job as well as she does.

11. Where did you spend your last vacation?
Italy - I would love to one day have a remote house there to grow fruit and olives and enjoy the lifestyle.

12. Where do you hope to spend your next one?
Spain for MotoGP- my husband loves watching and riding motorbikes so we try to go every year for his birthday.

13. What was your favourite band, film, and hobby as a teen?
Duran Duran, Grease, Show Jumping.

14. Apart of temptation what can't you resist?
Liquorice, and anyone in need of help / advice.

15. Red wine or white?
White although have tried some good Hungarian reds.

16. Book or movie?
Book - movies never match up to the book. My husband always asks “have you read the book” before we watch anything so he can prepare for my criticism of the adaptation.

17. Morning person or night person?
Morning - I love cycling / walking early when the city is still asleep.

18. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
Homelessness and Climate change.

19. Buda side or Pest side?
Pest - for the diversity of districts and experiences.

20. What would you say is your personal motto? 
Surround yourself with people who you constantly learn from so that you wont ever be the smartest person in the room.

  • How does this interview make you feel?