Gabriella Lengyel studied at IBS and now she is our lecturer at the Department of Finance and Accounting. In the following interview she shares her IBS experience as a student and as a lecturer as well.
You are one of those professors who studied at IBS and is now teaching at IBS. How did it happen?
After high school when I was 18 I started studying at IBS. The reason why I chose specifically IBS is that I studied in a dual language high school in Szeged and I realized that this was the place where I could continue studying in English. At that time the programmes were offered by Oxford Brookes University and I intended to continue my studies in the International Business Relations specialisation. After the first year I changed my mind and chose finance and accounting due to a funny coincidence. The main reason why I decided to rather continue my studies in the BAFIN course was that one of my best friends chose finance as well. I graduated here in the BAFIN programme, which was actually the first BAFIN programme offered by IBS, although we had never felt ourselves as guinea pigs at all. The programme and the courses seemed well-designed and accurately difficult.
At that time there was a famous accounting teacher at IBS, Réka Felleg, some of our colleagues may remember her. She was a real role model for many of us, especially for students in the finance programme. She left the school after I graduated to continue her PhD studies in Maastricht. As a consequence of this, IBS was left without almost any accounting teachers. I think Mr Szepesi and Réka thought that it would not be a bad idea to ask an ex-finance student to "jump in" and teach accounting. This is how I ended up here. So practically six months after graduation I started teaching here.
How come that you are so interested in finance?
I am rather interested in accounting to be precise. The reason why I like finance and accounting is the excellent teaching abilities and attitude of Réka primarily, but I was inspired by other teachers as well like Mr Windsor or Mr Szepesi.
You also began studying law not long after your graduation at IBS.
I am coming from a family full of lawyers. During my high school studies I was really being pushed towards law school mainly by my family. Almost everybody on my mother’s side, and both of my grandfathers worked as lawyers. As a rebellious teenager I wanted to do something that had absolutely nothing to do with law. During my IBS years, especially during my placement year, I had to realise that as the saying goes "blood is thicker than water" and I was very interested in legal matters so I decided to start law school just after IBS.
What subjects do you teach? Do you think you will use your legal knowledge in teaching here at IBS?
Well, I do use it already. I teach business law, legal environment, law related courses. In the beginning of this semester, the topic of how many courses I had taught came up during a conversation so I counted them and I stopped at 12. If I want to summarize the types of modules I have been involved with I can say that I have taught all kinds of finance, accounting and law related modules both on BSc and MSc programmes.
For me, these seem to be the most difficult hard core business subjects. I also read in the student evaluations that somebody took the Management Accounting course and thought that this would be very boring, and this student just fell in love with the subject and these 1.5 hours were the best classes for this student. So, how do you teach it?
Honestly, it is rather difficult to say why students find accounting exciting. However, it always makes me very happy and emotional to hear these kinds of positive feedbacks, so thank you for that. I do not think that I have any special methods I should share. I try to think with their minds, and understand the needs and the way of thinking of young adults who just graduated from high school. I try to be a lecturer who knows and feels (not just talks about) how it is to be a student today.
On the other hand, I do not think it is fair to speak in singular just for myself, as in most cases good things happen not because how I teach, but because how we teach with our team. This semester this team was Kinga Hermán, Eszter Bakró-Nagy and I, and this was one of the smoothest and most excellent cooperation I have ever been involved with. About our methods, well, a colleague of mine who was at a peer observation in one of my seminars told me that it was probably the way how we keep the contact with the students which made it a really enjoyable class. We want them to participate and we always reflect on how they behave, therefore the classes are very interactive and they do not look like a lecture. We do not really use power point slides the way one would imagine, so talking about slides one after each other. We have more than one seminar groups and all the groups are different so we try to adapt to the dynamics of every specific group and get the maximum out of each student. I nickname it as the "Waldorf method at a university".
Kinga was your student. You seem to carry on the “legacy” of Réka Felleg.
In a way yes and I try to. Kinga was in my very first seminar group, and Eszter used to be my class-mate at IBS. She grew up on the same education which was given us by Réka. Kinga was my student on one hand, but you know, the first ones will always be the first ones so they are very special to me. They become your friends eventually, you have a very good relationship with them. Kinga is really special to me, she is much more than just an ex-student, she is more like a very good friend and a little sister at the same time.
Tell about your plans and your hobby if you have one.
In the next five years I would like to start PhD studies in law. I believe in life-long learning, therefore I always want to study something new. I would be depressed if I had to stop studying or teaching. Maybe I will start learning a new language or continue my Greek studies, but I have not decided yet. I do not have any special hobbies. I like spending quality time with my friends and family. We organise excursions, travel a lot, go to concerts and festivals. There is one thing that people usually smile at: I collect hypos. I actually do not remember how this all began, but it was a long time ago when I was about 5-6 years old. I have more than 150 hypos in my apartment and probably a few more at my parents' house. Hypos are everywhere around me in all possible forms. I think they are simply adorable and well, nobody has to think a lot when trying to figure out what present would make me happy. :)