Eszter Szabó, guest lecturer at Professor Katalin Tardos’ CSR and Sustainability module
Eszter Szabó is a Corporate Communications, Public Affairs & Government Relations Executive with over 15 years of experience in CEE — with GE and in the Hungarian government. She is a council member of the Economic Forum of the Foundation Institute for Eastern Studies. She is a businesswoman, an economist, an honorary professor of Budapest Business School, and an angel investor. Recently she launched Women/Business/Angels, a „business” civil organisation to increase the number of women in the innovation decision making, She is a promoter of Central and Eastern Europe’s huge, digital era innovation potential in the global context. #CEEforInnovationHub
In her lecture, she considered the role of global corporations and executives in the economic development of the Post Communist Central Eastern European region. Unlike the so called Western world where capitalism has a 400-century history, in our region economic growth cannot be based solely on organic development. Networks should play a significant role in economic growth. She can use her vast experiences to help regional economic and business development through decision makers in the business, in the governments and in the academia. Her rich professional career includes working in the Hungarian Ministry of Internal Affairs where she not only had an opportunity to have an insider’s view into the Hungarian government’s operation as a civil servant but also to have an impact on what happened in the country. To give an example, it was the department of the ministry led by her that designed a new way of how the country celebrated the new national holidays following 1990. Her experience was working for GE, where she could feel in real life that she and her work could have an impact on the Central European region’ role within a global organisation. Changes, rebranding, new investments came step by step and prepared through executives through a very systematic, consistent way. During her time working with seven sets of executives, GE has built a huge, globally competitive supply chain in Central and Eastern Europe, with $7,7 billion export from the region.
Her most recent activity is a socially engaged voluntary civil organisation called Women/Business/Angels. It works with a business mind as we measure results, not just the activities. As she described in her lecture, this is a rather challenging job as it aims at changing rigid and deeply embedded social practices connected to women. Women should set up their networks that would serve as a tool to develop a pipeline to grow female participation the innovation decision making. In our post-communist region the majority of people, both men and women, are conditioned to work as employees. But then who will create the region’s new phase of economy in the digital era? It burns down to two questions. Who sets up the new, globally competitive companies? And who are going to finance them? Angel investors can be women as well, like Eszter Szabó herself. You can put together a successful and competitive company, this can also help the growth of the innovation capacity of a country. All who can, should take part in it and we have to show good examples, role models to make people think about another alternative.
As a visionary leader, she talked about her experiences how it feels to come up with an innovative idea and see that you are followed by others. We in Central Europe should learn how to cooperate more, to work together more, not just compete for better positions in the same market. It is a key factor to accelerate innovation capacity building that women participated in the decision making, either as angel investors or innovative entrepreneurs, this is her civil organisation’s focus in Hungary and on an international level. She also added that women should work together with men, and the number of women in business can be raised only together with men who support co-educated innovation decision making. It is the responsibility of both genders how our economy will look like in 10 years. She is happy to invest into young people because that means investing into the future. Gender balance is not an altruistic act but good business.
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Her latest post: Israel, Powering Many
Want to learn about angeldom? Check out Women/Business/Angels