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Being feared does not make you a good leader

2024-06-20 12:34:00

Eszter Czank took over the position of location leader of Infineon Technologies' Budapest office on May 1, after returning from maternity leave, while writing her thesis for the Executive MBA programme at Corvinus-MSM-Seed. Her story shows that a woman leader can do the impossible if she has the confidence and support of her peers. And, not least, she gives it back to her colleagues.
Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem

The newly-appointed head of Infineon Technologies’ Budapest office has never complained about not having enough challenges in her life, and now her day-to-day life is about to get even busier. Eszter Czank, who has a degree in commerce and marketing and specialises in supply chain management, previously worked at Unilever and Suzuki, and when she felt the time was right to take on an executive role, she started looking around the market: “It was always important to make a mark in the life of a company through my work, and I think that’s what I can do best as a leader.” 

During the application process, she realised that without significant management experience, it would be difficult to be trusted in Budapest, so she extended her search to a national level and eventually moved to Békés County for a logistics manager position in a local factory.  

“It was a difficult time in my professional life, but I can see how much this experience has added to my development. For example, I realized what kind of leader I don’t want to be and what kind of atmosphere I want to create for my colleagues as a leader.” 

After Békés County, she started her current job at Infineon Technologies, where she had not initially applied for a managerial position, but during her interview, a Hungarian manager of the company saw potential in her and offered to create a logistics manager position for her in Budapest. At Infineon, Eszter had a very exciting and professionally building period, during which the number of employees in Budapest grew from 5 to 60. The supportive atmosphere in the company has also confirmed Eszter’s belief that her leadership credo is valid: “No matter how high you get, I think you have to be able to stay human. It’s not that you are feared by your subordinates that makes you a good leader, but that you can create a supportive atmosphere and give direction to your staff members.” 

She says she himself has the trust and support of both German and Hungarian management, for example, there was no question of her being promoted to head of the Budapest office on her return from maternity leave. In fact, two years ago, when she asked her boss to apply for the Corvinus-MSM-Seed’s Executive MBA programme, she received a clear positive response and the company gave her all the support she needed to complete the programme.  

“Two years of studying was quite an adventure because I got pregnant with my son, so time got tight. For example, I managed to pass the higher level English exam for my degree a week before giving birth. And I missed the intensive two weeks of the Maastricht last year because that’s when my son was born. Because of this, I will defend my thesis half a year later than my classmates,” says Eszter, who completed the second year of her EMBA programme on maternity leave, but with a schedule that is by no means free. 

“I would get up at five in the morning to do sports, then I would spend the whole day with the baby and doing the housework, and when my husband came in the evening and took the baby, I started studying. Without his support, none of this would have happened. Well, I’m a bit tired now,” she adds with a laugh.  

During her Executive MBA programme at Corvinus-MSM-Seed, she learned the most from case studies and simulation exercises, and from her classmates from a wide variety of industry sectors.  

When we asked what she thinks are the aspects to consider before starting the Corvinus-MSM-Seed Executive MBA programme, Eszter immediately mentioned the time and energy invested, which she believes cannot be spared, but should not be spared either.  

“This programme is far from just about the one weekend a month when we meet in person. On the one hand, we have to prepare for these occasions, and on the other hand, we are given a lot of group tasks, which we can typically do after work, in the evenings, with our group mates. I think that if you don’t put enough time and effort into this programme, you’re screwing yourself and others, because that’s how you get the most out of it,” she explains.  

Even though the expectations are high for the Corvinus-MSM-Seed Executive MBA programme, Eszter encourages all professionals preparing for a serious executive role to get started and dedicate two years of their lives to gaining a solid foundation in senior management. And she particularly encourages her female leaders to do so, because, she says, “a lot of good women could become very good women leaders if a lot more women had a little more confidence in themselves and their abilities”.  

Apply now for the Corvinus-MSM-Seed Executive MBA programme until 6 September! 

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GEN.:2024.07.15. - 02:38:24