Expat CEO of the Year Award


Raffaella Claudia Bondi
General manager of Roche Hungary
Chresten Bruun
Gengeral manager of Lego factory Nyíregyháza and SVP at the Lego Group
Arne Klehn
Multi-property general manager Budapest Marriott Hotel & Marriott Executive Apartments


Please note that the date of the gala has changed to Saturday, March 23, 2024.

The venue and time remain the same: the Grand Ballroom of the Corinthia Hotel Budapest (Erzsébet körút 43-49, Budapest 1073), from 7 p.m.

We are looking forward to welcome you at the event!


The title of Expat CEO of the Year is given to the business leader who has done most for the country’s development and international recognition through his or her professionalism and outstanding achievements in the past 12 months.

The winner will be chosen by a professional awards committee. This award will be given to that leader who has done most for Hungarian
suppliers and for strengthen the domestic SME sector during the past year.

The BBJ Expat CEO of the Year Gala is one of Hungary’s most prestigious annual events. On that evening, the Expat CEO of the Year Award is presented to a company head recognized as the most successful foreign leader in the past year, chosen from a pool of several hundred expat leaders. Success here means that they contribute at an exceptional level to Hungary’s economic development and set an outstanding example to their employees and also to their peers within the expat community.

The award is now a tradition dating back a decade; it has been granted annually since 2015. The idea to create a prize offering exclusive
recognition of the efforts of the most outstanding foreign CEO of the year came from the Budapest Business Journal.

“The BBJ is Hungary’s only English-language economic bi-weekly and has always played an important role in providing information for expat CEOs working and living in Hungary. It was natural that we should decide to found an award to recognize their efforts annually,” explains Balázs Román, the CEO of the Budapest Business Journal.


The 2023 title went to Veronika Spanarova, managing director and Citi country officer, Hungary. For the first time, a new Community Award was introduced in 2023 and was presented to Andrea Solti Istenes, president of the Hungarian Business Leaders’ Forum and country chair of Shell Hungary, recognizing her efforts in diversity, inclusivity, disability, and sustainability.

The 2022 winner of the Expat CEO Award was Giacomo Pedranzini, CEO of Kometa 99 Zrt. After a COVID-induced delay to the gala of 18 months, Erik Slooten of Deutsche Telekom IT Solutions Hungary was selected as the 2021 winner. His immediate predecessor, albeit one named in January 2020, was BlackRock’s Melanie Seymour. Taira-Julia Lammi, CEO of ABB Hungary Kft., won the award in 2019, while in 2018, it went to Marc de Bastos Eckstein of Thyssenkrupp Components Technology Hungary Kft. In 2017, it was Jörg Bauer, then of GE Hungary; he followed Jost Ernst Lammers, CEO of Budapest Airport Zrt. in 2016. The inaugural award went in 2015 to Javier González Pareja of Bosch Magyarország.

Each year until 2020, the official event partner, the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency, presented its Partnership Award in recognition of the work of foreign-owned multinational firms in promoting the use of local SME suppliers in their value chain and of the ambassadorial role their CEOs play in representing Hungary to their home boards. Over the years, the award has been presented to the following:

Nevijo Mance, director of engineering, Jaguar Land Rover Hungary (2021); Dale A. Martin, president-CEO of Siemens Zrt. (2020); Kannan
Prabhakar, projects chief of Apollo Tyres Hungary Kft. (2019); Frank Müller, head of the Regional Office of VW Group Eastern Europe (2018);
Ekkehard Günter Philipp, CFO of Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Hungary Kft. (2017); Naoyuki Takeuchi, CEO of Magyar Suzuki Zrt. (2016); and
Kersten Bachmann, CEO of TAKATA Safety Systems Hungary Kft. (2015).


The independent jury members’ expertise strengthens the high quality of the award. It is comprised of leaders of bilateral chambers and international business development organizations with outstanding experience both in international and domestic economic life, complemented by the prize winner of the previous year and the CEO of the Budapest Business Journal.

Jury members are charged with nominating expat CEOs for the award based on the following criteria:

  • Innovative skills
  • Successes on domestic and international markets
  • Being a prominent and committed representative of his or her mother country in Hungary
  • Their impact on Hungary’s economic life
  • The CEO must have lived in Hungary for at least two years
  • The financial results of the company represented by the CEO must be positive

The jury responsible for deciding the 2024 winner:

Veronika Spanarova
Managing Director, Country Head, Hungary, Citi
Írisz Lippai-Nagy
CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary
András Sávos
President, DUIHK, and Co-CEO, Member of the Board, MetMax Europe Zrt.
István Joó
CEO of the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency
Balázs Román
CEO of the Budapest Business Journal


Veronika Spanarova
Managing Director, Country Head, Hungary, Citi
Giacomo Pedranzini
CEO of Kometa 99 Zrt.
Erik Slooten
CEO of Deutsche Telekom IT Solutions Hungary
Melanie Seymour
Former Head of BlackRock Budapest 2017-2019 Head of Global Client Services
Taira-Julia Lammi
CEO of ABB Hungary Kft.
Marc de Bastos Eckstein
CEO of thyssenkrupp Components Technology Hungary Kft.
Jörg Bauer
Managing director of GE Hungary Kft.
Jost Ernst Lammers
CEO of Budapest Airport Zrt.
Javier González Pareja
CEO of Bosch Magyarország
Andrea Solti Istenes
Country Chair and President of the Board of Shell Hungary Zrt. and President of the Hungarian Business Leaders Forum
BBJ’s Community Award 2023
Nevijo Mance
Director of Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover Hungary
HIPA Local Partnership Award 2021
Dale A. Martin
Member of the Board, German-Hungarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and President and CEO of Siemens Hungary HIPA Local Partnership Award 2020
Kannan Prabhakar
Chief, Projects of Apollo Tyres Hungary Kft.
HIPA Local Partnership Award 2019
Frank Müller
Head of Regional Office Volkswagen Eastern Europe
HIPA Local Partnership Award 2018
Ekkehard Günther Philipp
CEO of Mercedes Benz Manufacturing Kft.
HIPA Local Partnership Award 2017
Naoyuki Takeuchi
CEO of Magyar Suzuki Zrt.
HIPA Local Partnership Award 2016
Kersten Bachmann
CEO of TAKATA Safety Systems Hungary Kft.
HIPA Local Partnership Award 2015



The dress code is black-tie: black tuxedo for men with a bow tie, evening wear for women (long ball gown or cocktail dress).

Food allergy, special diet

When registering, please let us know about any special dietary requirements.

Registration process

Registration to the event is open to those who have received a personal invitation to the BBJ Expat CEO of the Year Gala via email. Please note that only by giving a written confirmation of your registration here will you be entitled to attend the Gala. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at event@bbj.hu.


The venue of the Expat CEO of the Year Gala event is the Grand Ballroom of the Corinthia Hotel Budapest.
Website: www.corinthia.com/hotels/budapest/
Address: Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 43, 1073 Hungary
Parking is possible on site at the hotel garage (spaces permitting) according to the parking rates of the Corinthia Hotel Budapest.

Thank you for our sponsors

To become a sponsor please contact us here: balazs.roman@bbj.hu