Hungarian banking CEO and former government deputy state secretary for Economics, Éva Hegedüs isn’t just successful at work – she’s also hugely liked and admired amongst her peers and colleagues. A power to be reckoned with, this accomplished leader still has much she’d like to achieve…

It’s well known that any company can soar or flounder based on the ideas and competences of its CEO.

Many leading business analysts and corporate leaders have different ideas about the qualities a successful CEO should have. Arne Sorenson, CEO of the upmarket Marriot Hotels group believes, for instance, that it’s all about keeping the ego in check and doing “more listening than talking.” He also believes that more than one individual should be involved in the ‘big decisions.’

An Oxford University research study, published this year, interviewed 150 CEOs to find out what they believed made a good leader a great leader. Many cited the word “authenticity” ie the CEO had to come across as human enough to care about his employees/clients and to be approachable in the first place.

CEO for telecoms giant EE, Olaf Swantee, cited the ability to foster a more flexible and ‘human’ working environment as well as a constant drive to challenge the status quo.

 Éva Hegedüs introduces innovation via digital technology

Like Swantee, Éva Hegedüs, CEO and deputy chairperson of GRANIT Bank in Hungary is a great believer in innovation and challenging the status quo. She is also extremely au fait with today’s digital technology.

Hers was the first bank in Hungary to introduce a VideoBank service allowing customers to have onscreen ‘face-to-face’ discussions with a senior member of the banking staff in their own home and at a time that suited them. This is achieved via customers using a mobile phone, PC or iPad – whichever he or she finds most convenient. They can also access documents online and conclude transactions.

So successful was the app (which Hegedüs herself conceived of) that it is now one of the top apps on Google Play and the AppStore. MasterCard Europe also saw its potential, awarding the VideoBank app second place in its “Mobile application for retail clients of the year” category.

Another digital first for GRANIT is the bank’s mobile Messenger app. Introduced last year, it allows customers to receive and approve personal account information, as well as the latest banking news via iSMS – and all for free.

GRANIT Bank under Éva Hegedüs’ leadership

Hegedüs was the first-ever CEO at the Bank, which opened its doors for the first time in summer 2010. GRÁNIT Bank is part private/public with private investors owning shares of 51 per cent and the other 49 per cent being retained by the Hungarian State.

So successful was Hegedüs’ leadership that the bank broke even in the first half of last year – even though it was predicted it wouldn’t do so until 2016 at the earliest. In fact, figures show that the bank has increased its balance sheet total almost twenty times to more than HUF 100 billion (EUR 330 million) over the last four years.

Impressively, the bank’s portfolio contains no non-performing loans. This is no mean feat considering the struggle the Hungarian banking industry has endured in recent years since the economic crash of 2008. Recognition last year came from the European magazine which named GRANIT ‘Bank of the Year in Hungary.’

Clear-thinking Hegedüs saw from the outset that competition from the technology industry was diminishing the power of traditional banking methods. In addition a new generation of customer (generation ‘Y’) had become used to conducting their lives digitally.

Her belief was that banking could be convenient, cost-effective and accessed through digital means. Indeed a new account can be set up digitally on GRANIT Bank within a mere six minutes. This new way of thinking was also in line with a change in culture where Hegedüs saw the relationship between the customer and the bank becoming equal. 

She also wanted the bank to widen its remit outwith Hungary and as a result GRANIT Bank is now regarded as universal and theholder of a European Union service licence. It’s a bank where corporate financing and treasury services sit comfortably alongside customised current accounts, savings plans and loans.

“My midterm objective is for GRANIT Bank to become the most innovative full-service, mid-size bank in Hungary,” said Hegedus. “We will then look at going public.”

The CV of Éva Hegedüs  

One thing is for sure, this ambitious and competent CEO needs no introduction in the world of Hungarian banking. A former Head of Retail at OTP Bank (Hungary’s biggest); Hegedüs was also chair of its Building Society and a member of various Hungarian banks. In addition, she was the Hungarian Government’s Deputy State Secretary in both the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Finance for more than four years.

She was also elected a member of the Hungarian Banking Association and is the current Secretary-general of the Hungarian Economic Association (an independent 150-year-old think tank).

Forbes rates her as one of the top 50 most influential females in Hungary. Here at Business Worldwide Magazine we have crowned her our ‘Banking CEO of the Year, Hungary- 2015′ as well as our ‘Female CEO of the Year, Hungary- 2015’.

Who is Éva Hegedüs

Hegedüs is a leader who believes in mentoring young banking talent. A CEO with an ‘open outlook’ when it comes to sharing information and directing responsibility where it is earned, she leads by example.

The founder of the bank describes her as “a talented leader” who, when faced with 100 challenges, has no difficulty choosing the top three she needs to prioritise…

A former colleague said she was the type of leader to “motivate others to create new and innovative solutions.” He also admired her willingness to take risks (although she never does when it comes to granting loans).

It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise then to learn that one leader Hegedüs particularly admires is Albert Einstein. His quote: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking,” is a particular favourite of hers.

She added: “I am certain that innovative solutions and a new way of thinking will contribute to a much-needed and fundamental change within the world of financial services.”

We have no doubt that will indeed be the case.