- 22 Mar 2023 3:33 PM
Gabriel, who most recently served as Regional Vice President and Commercial Officer Procter & Gamble Central Europe, brings more than 20 years of experience in international FMCG business and senior management.
Gabriel's expertise and extensive regional experience in leading organizations and general management in Central Europe has earned him a well-deserved reputation in professional circles.
Under his leadership, the company will continue to grow in a challenging e-commerce environment, continuing to base its strategy on a great customer experience, which has always set Kifli.hu apart from the rest.
1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?
I came to Hungary in the summer of 2013, for work reasons with Procter & Gamble. I moved here from Croatia with my wife and kids – including our young 8 month old son - and I have lived here as an expat since then. We settled in well here with my family because we really love this country. I came as the managing director for the Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia business of P&G, since then I had a couple of different roles, such as a regional one, but the majority of them I could do from Budapest and so we decided to stay. My new role at Kifli.hu also means we can continue living here I am glad to say.
2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
I worked in Zagreb for two years, which was also a fantastic experience. I spend a year in Warsow and before that I was working in the Czech Republic - which is partially my home country, well for the first 20 years of my life. I also lived in Yemen, so I feel at home in many places!
3. What surprised you most about Hungary?
I knew the country because I was travelling to Budapest since 2007 as part of my job responsibilities. I already had a lot of friends by the time I came to live here. I always loved the city but living here I think, as I guess everyone will tell you, it is a fantastic city with extremely nice and kind people who I also find to be extremely helpful, in fact I can say that in the last ten years I didn’t have a single negative experience from local people, they really made it feel home for us.
I think the real surprise was the speed of how the country has changed and advanced, in particular Budapest. As I was a student here in 2007 I was often coming back and forth, and so I can really notice the changes. For example the level of construction and development has happened extremely fast, and it’s really funny to look back 15 years knowing this used to be one of the nicest capital cities in Europe, and now it’s become one of the top ones. Today it’s a very international and vibrant city, which wasn’t the case two decades ago, now you can choose any lifestyle you want in this fabulous city.
4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
It really depends, but in general of course we visit the Buda Castle to look around at the city. Budapest in itself is fantastic, also we usually take friends to Tata, which is one of the close by cities which we find is very nice. It’s not visited by tourists so much and so is authentically Hungarian, a very nice place with great nature by the lake. In Budapest we like to walk around with friends, eat local food and go to an open air market.
5. What is your favourite Hungarian food?
I wouldn’t say I have one particular one, however I love strudel with poppy seeds. Overall regarding cuisine, I prefer Asian and Italian.
6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?
I would say meat, I like beef, lamb, and also a good cheese like cheddar, they would be the things we always have, also milk for coffee!
7. What is your favourite Hungarian word?
Köszönöm, I use it a lot. Hungarian people are very polite to each other, even with strangers they are very polite but keep their distance. I like this type of old school respect, so you do hear the word köszönöm frequently among local people.
8. What do you miss most from home?
Where’s home anyway? I feel at home wherever I go, yet of course I miss family and friends who I see less often these days.
9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
I was thinking about this the other day, and to be honest I believe I’m doing what I’m doing because I like what I’m doing. It’s totally fulfilling, and while I know things can always be better, it’s my call now as CEO, so I’m very happy.
10. What's a job you would definitely never want?
I have respect for all jobs that people do. I really feel there are some jobs I may have more talent for, others not so much. Most likely I would not be good in politics, as I tend to be rather straight forward, but I also know there are a lot of great ’straight forward politicians’ too.
11. Where did you spend your last vacation?
In the Czech Republic, it was a Christmas vacation, also we spent some time there last summer. We also went to Romania, to Transylvania just to see the nature. We spend everyday in a different place, without even knowing in the morning when we woke up where we would sleep. We just went somewhere each day and then we booked a place to sleep. We travelled with the kids and it was like following Dracula’a footsteps, that was the theme. It was all very nice, sometimes we crossed the border in and out of Hungary and Romania, and we could see and feel how the countries are so close to each other, with linked history, it was fascinating.
12. Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
We’ll go to the seaside, somewhere in the Mediterranean. Anywhere there by the sea, as long as there is good food, warm weather, and sea!
13. Apart of temptation what can't you resist?
I can resist almost everything, however there are a couple of things I cannot stand. I cannot stand people being mistreated, it triggers a strong emotional response in me. I really have a hard time with that, I really don’t like people exercising excessive power or treating other people poorly. I don’t need to know the person, if I see it on the street is the same thing, so I can’t resist standing up for people who are badly treated.
14. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
I spent majority of them in Yemen, so was a little bit of a different type of environment than here. At that time I did a lot of sports, I was playing basketball a lot and did so for 15 years. Regarding music I recall liking Michael Jackson, and Queen. I cannot recall any movies in particular, of course I saw the ones back then with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, that type of action movies.
15. Red wine or white?
16. Book or movie?
I’m reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, I think maybe for the 4th time. I’m reading again now as it’s a really fantastic book, I never get bored of reading it, again and again.
17. Morning person or night person?
18. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
I’m very passionate about kids education. I think that’s the field which sets nations and people apart, as if children get access to good education, to good teachers who care about future talent, it makes all the difference in the world. Besides education for kids of course the whole topic of sustainability is key for all of us.
19. Buda or Pest side?
Both are fantastic!
20. What would you say is your personal motto?
I don’t have one in particular since there are many which I feel are key, but the one which comes to me now is this one, ’Never never miss an opportunity to make something nicer or to do something kind for someone'.