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Cohort 9 students Crystal Koepke, Toshimasa Matsumura, Michelle Naguiat, Duane Trumble, Nelson Silva were on the business team for Budapest Bank.

Today was the final business visit for Stetson University Executive MBA Cohort 9’s international trip to Istanbul and Budapest.

The last presentation was held at Budapest Bank, headquartered in Budapest, Hungary, since 1987. Laszlo Sziraki, leader of consumer business support, and his team from marketing, human resources and strategic business led the panel discussion.

“The Stetson Executive MBA team of Crystal Koepke, Toshimasa Matsumura, Michelle Naguiat, Nelson Silva and Duane Trumble were anticipating an engaging discussion,” said Wendy Lowe, Executive MBA program coordinator, “and Budapest Bank delivered!”

Budapest Bank provides a full range of banking services to small and medium-size enterprises. General Electric Co. holds a 100% stake in Budapest Bank, which provides a solid financial background and extensive training, which has added to the bank’s success.

Budapest Bank’s mission statement is: “We are not just bankers; we are builders.” The panel explained that Budapest Bank builds relationships with current and new customers and wants to grow these relationships by adding additional products and services over time.

Budapest Bank is the eighth-biggest commercial bank, with 3,000 employees and 101 branches. It was one of the first commercial banks in the market. It’s therefore considered a “stable” bank, which means it has business growth, transactional banking and innovation. The speakers listed the following among the bank’s competitive advantages: Leaders project and plan for the future in a methodical way, monitor and manage risk, are responsive to lending, work with “lean” processes, are customer-centric, have strong human resources to train employees and meet their needs, and have strategic partners.

Budapest Bank is using social media marketing on Facebook, You Tube and Twitter to build brand awareness. Other banks in the area are not there yet. Cohort 9 student Gwen Schaefer learned that, for Budapest Bank, the use of social media means that it is “building a society around us,” said the panel. The company’s public relations manager told Schaefer’s classmate, Christina Boncela, that the bank’s approach to marketing is no nonsense; it communicates clearly and effectively, and advises those who have questions by being very approachable and accessible.

The panel leaders said they believe Budapest Bank is successful in part because its managers understand the “drivers,” they plan actively and “deep,” and they consistently measure their progress and respond accordingly.

Matsumura asked if the cultural differences between GE and Hungary have created any issues with company culture. The leaders responded that they feel GE has actually bolstered Budapest Bank’s training and added more depth. Responding to compliance issues is even easier.

Koepke asked how Budapest Bank manages its portfolio, and if it’s planning to make changes. The panel said the bank operates in a performance-driven environment so percentages likely won’t decline.

Naguiat said she appreciated the response to her training and human resource question and was delighted to hear that several training formats (in person and online) are available on a consistent basis. “Actually, such training was occurring when we departed our visit today,” said Lowe.

The group's last business visit was at Budapest Bank.

Trumble asked if Hungary’s savings habits were short-term or long-term. Sziraki said that, unfortunately, locals’ savings habits are very short-term. He added that this could improve by a long-term tax-supported savings plan.

Silva pointed out that he noticed some drops in certain areas of the bank financials. He asked what the bank’s reaction to such events was. Sziraki said the financial crisis brought about a time when the bank’s employees had to change focus and behaviors and, in some cases, become debt claim managers to get it done.

Silva’s classmate, David LaRocque, learned that Budapest Bank can actually be quite flexible. After the financial crisis, it shifted its focus from lending to transactional banking. Now it can rebalance its time and efforts to support the current economy.

“The Stetson Executive MBA cohort enjoyed the panel discussion at the end and the time and enthusiasm of the different business leaders at Budapest Bank,” said Lowe. “Their hospitality was tremendous, and this visit was a perfect way to end our week-long travels in Istanbul and Budapest. We’ve witnessed first-hand the diverse lifestyles, business trends and strategies that now we can apply to our own company roles when we return to the United States.”

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