Interview with our General Manager from Sika Ungarn, Johanna Kruchina.
Budapest is a city of breathtaking architecture and culture. Anyone standing on one of the bridges crossing the Danube, pausing in front of Hungary’s Parliament Building, sauntering next to the Opera House or just walking through the old city center will agree: Budapest is captivating. When you simply can’t walk anymore, you can take a break in one of the magnificent old coffee houses and breathe in the air of the 19th century.
But Budapest has grown into a modern metropolis fast. To get to know more about Hungary and its vibrant capital, we met up with the General Manager of Sika Hungary, Johanna Kruchina, in the heart of Budapest.
How does a woman at the top feel in this male-dominated world of construction? You seem to be doing very well! Are there any advantages?
I have been working with Sika Hungary since the beginning. I started out with Sika products through a service agency, and later, when the headquarters in Budapest were established, I was appointed General Manager at Sika Hungária Kft. in 1995, the first female GM in Europe.
Moving up the ladder rung by rung and seeing everyday workflows gave me a very clear insight of the market. I think – partly thanks to this – accepting me as a woman, civil engineer and leader all in one was never an issue.
What is your personal secret?
Being open-minded, up-to-date, choosing the right, reliable professional employees, and also clearly conveying top management instructions to my team – I think this is my and our key to success.
Hungary has made the transition from a centrally planned to a market economy, with a per capital income nearly two-thirds that of the EU27 average. The private sector accounts for more than 80% of GDP. Is everything on track?
Even though Hungary’s present political leadership has come in for a lot of criticism lately, for instance, because of extra taxes on multinational companies, banks and the energy and telecommunication sectors – more and more EU countries are adopting similar rules and laws.
The increase in GDP seen in 2013 is above the EU average, and the outlook for 2014 is also looking good.
Hungary and the surrounding Eastern European States offer a very challenging environment for multinational companies. Where do you see the opportunities?
Those countries familiar with Sika products will be much more open to meeting us, not only because we are a dependable company, but also because we are present in all local European countries. What is more, the EU partners have succeeded in combatting part of the black economy.
How about the construction market? Where does Hungary need Sika?
In order to build quality projects, you need quality products and systems. Sika has been proving this for more than 100 years.
Any extraordinary Sika projects you would like to tell us about?
We have had a number of attractive projects lately, and some of them are still running:
An underground garage beneath Budapest’s Kossuth Square – which is where the Parliament Building is located (waterproofing), FTC Football Stadium, Budapest (flooring, refurbishment, waterproofing), embedded railway track, Budapest (refurbishment) and phase 3 of the Hangkook Tire Manufacturing plant in Dunaújváros (80,000 m2 of roofing).
Where is Sika Hungary heading? What are the targets?
Sika Hungary is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year. From a marketing point of view, this occasion also brings an opportunity to get our partners better acquainted with Sika.
I am very optimistic that we will achieve this target.
What are the best things about living in Hungary and what can you not be without?
Hungary is not just paprika and goulash. It is a highly valued and livable country. We have famous architecture, a fascinating history and culture, beautiful places, and Lake Balaton – a great favorite with tourists. Other reasons why we love this country include the delicious food and drinks, a pleasant environment and climate, a constantly evolving public transport system, a beautiful capital city and amazing countryside.
What do you personally wish your country for the future?
First of all, more economic stability to create more jobs – this is a must. Giving children and young people more educational opportunities is also very important. Last but not least, being more optimistic and looking to the future would solve a lot of problems.
Know more about Sika Hungary!