- 12 Oct 2020 1:44 PM
He’s described as a, "High-energy, team focused, challenger-minded executive of transformations and business lines”.
Earlier in his career he fulfilled multiple leadership roles at Vodafone (M&A Integration, Customer Experience, Go-To-Market), managing large cross-functional organisations and niche centre of excellence teams as well.
Previously, he worked at the consulting firm McKinsey&Company in 8 countries across multiple industries, covering areas such as digital transformation, merger management, change management, agile transformation.
Bence is married with 2 young children. He says he empathizes with all expats living in Budapest, partially based on his own expat experiences in Turkey, Singapore and France. He received an MBA with distinction from INSEAD in Singapore and France.
1. Where did you grow up?
I was born in Budapest, on the Buda side to be precise, then at the age of six my family moved to Northern Pest (Újpest).
In 1999 we moved to Veresegyház, a small agglomeration town north-east from Budapest, and I lived there until my university graduation. After graduation I returned to live in Budapest, because it fitted my life style better.
I attended Corvinus University, and graduated with a Masters in Strategic Management. It was during and after Corvinus that I started to leave Hungary for longer periods, either to work or study abroad.
2. If you could be an expat anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
Both me and my wife are working for international companies, so this is actually a regular discussion topic. Our primary locations could be or would be Switzerland, Canada or Australia. I have already spent months in Zürich and enjoyed working there.
Also, I had the luck to visit Sydney, Australia and Montréal, Canada as well. Both seemed to be appealing for work as an expat given their peaceful lifestyle.
3. What would you miss most if you moved away from Hungary?
I had the chance multiple times in past to spend time working and living abroad, but I did not stay away for too long. Quite simply, that was for emotional and relational reasons, as being away from family and friends ended up always forcing us to return home, despite all the potential opportunities of staying abroad. So, also these days, this would be what we would miss most if we moved away from Hungary.
4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
It happens every half a year or so that friends coming over to visit. We usually start with a river cruise on the Danube, then go to Gellért hill to show them the city from that perspective, to give them a feeling of the city from both the river and up on the hill.
Typically, part of the program for such visits is going to Café Párisi’s Lotz Hall on Andrássy street. Then I would take them to a butcher to try Hungarian liver sausages, and we would probably walk to a spa afterwards. When younger, my father and I used to visit Gellért regularly, but ever since they renovated Rudas that’s become my favorite. Sometimes we go running at Normafa or Margaret Island with my friend visiting from abroad.
5. What is your favourite food?
Only one?! :) Since childhood I am obsessed with a local sweet dish of pasta with poppy seeds, eaten as a main course. None of my foreign friends understand how it’s a main course and not a dessert.
6. What is your favourite sport / form of exercise?
Running became the most efficient way for me to exercise these days, I always have my running shoes in the car, and after work sometimes manage to run at Normafa. I also love skiing with the family.
7. What is your favourite place in Hungary?
I love Budapest. From time to time I pretend to be a tourist in the city. Some tourists pay a fortune to visit this city, and I feel lucky to live here, to cross the Danube twice every day. Other than that, I really like the Balaton highlands. The whole natural ambience there, and the activities you can do there are so fantastic, it’s a great place to visit. In particular, I’m obsessed with the Badacsony & Szent György Hill regions.
8. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
More and more I think about teaching university students, as I probably already have quite a diverse and interesting experience to share, while I can also speak the language of those youngsters. Already I had the fortune to hold lectures at Corvinus, and other schools as well. Education would be something I could fit into my current life.
9. What’s a job you would definitely never want?
Not because of my business with car sharing, but I would not like to be a parkolóőr, (parking warden) - I think that job could and should be 100% automated.
10. Where did you spend your last vacation?
In July to Portugal with my family (right in between the quarantine periods), we had a fantastic time staying in Sao Miquel at the Azores. Pure beauty of nature with a refreshing climate, we particularly loved the dolphin and whale watching.
11. Where do you hope to spend your next one?
Family holidays are an important part of our lives, so we are already planning a trip to the Scottish Highlands, to visit the castles, mountains, and distilleries. I am already organizing it with some friends, who also have kids, for next summer. We aim to spend two weeks in a rented caravan driving around there.
12. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
I have always played sports in a competitive manner, first it was table tennis, then handball. I was not that much into any particular bands to be honest. Forest Gump is a film that had a big impact on me, maybe I was too young for it at the age of 11 or 12, anyway I still watch it sometimes these days.
13. Apart of temptation what can't you resist?
Going outside whenever the first snow hits Budapest. I have been obsessed with this ‘first snow event’ ever since my childhood, still I have to go out whenever the city turns white. Last winter, early on the first snow’s morning I headed up to Normafa for a run in the snow.
14. Red wine or white?
Whatever fits the best – both the occasion and my mood.
15. Book or movie?
I am more into books these days, for a simple reason, I find it relaxing to read books. I think that reading a good book helps me switch off from work better than watching a movie.
16. Morning person or night person?
17. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
Unfortunately these days there are so many, but I will mention just one. For many years now, my wife and I help and support an NGO called Bagázs, working on the integration of the Roma minority. They are focused on supporting the Roma people living in deep poverty in Hungary. There are several reasons for supporting them, here are two.
Firstly, I believe that for my kids in this country, 10 – 15 years from now this should not even be a topic of discussion - let alone discrimination - where someone comes from and what’s the colour of their skin.
The second is an economic reason. There are more than 500,000 Romas completely left out from the labour market and partially from the education system in Hungary, for multiple reasons. Just imagine, how much value they could add to this country. If they could work, they could contribute with taxes, and provide services (physical or intellectual) people are actually short of these days. I heard a radio report recently saying if someone needs a professional electrician in Budapest, they have to wait 100 days on average until one becomes available. Imagine how many Roma people could be trained to be an electrician, or similar, and serve the needs of society as a whole.
Through Bagázs I know many who learned and worked hard to escape rural poverty and are now living a good life with proper jobs in downtown Budapest. There are so many opportunities here in the city, I feel it is our obligation to elevate these people, and so help us all.
18. Buda or Pest side?
Living in Buda, business in Pest.
19. Which achievement in your life are you most pleased about?
It is not about the achievement as such, it is about my family. I am pleased with the lifestyle and family circumstances we created with my wife for our children.
20. What would you say is your personal motto?
I have a sentence which my high school math teacher quoted me: “You are born to this world crying, while everyone is laughing around you. Live a life so that you can walk away smiling and have everyone around you cry.” Without too much seriousness, I am aiming to live a life with positive impact on the people around me. Making them smile multiple times. Every day.