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“A cool job title is great – but long-term prospects are more important”

The north-east of Hungary is a rural region. A hilly landscape, through which the small river Tisza winds. The traditional Tokaji is at home here: a wine, from one of the most famous growing areas in the world. And from here, more precisely from the village of Halmaj, comes Ákos Képes. Since mid-June 2020, the almost 32-year-old has been Head of Shopper & Customer Marketing and CATMAN for Beiersdorf Hungary.

Ákos in his office in Budapest.
Ákos in his office in Budapest.

“This is the next important step in my career,” says Ákos proudly. “I have the opportunity to lead my own team and gain cross-functional experience at the same time.” Together with four colleagues, he coordinates Beiersdorf’s marketing strategies for the Hungarian market with those of his retail customers. The focus is always on the shoppers and their targeted approach at the point of sale. Category Management (CATMAN) plays an equally important role in his day-to-day work. “We make specific suggestions as to which of our products could fit into the assortment of the respective customers and give recommendations for their placement on the shelf.” The aim is to grow alongside our business partners with the right selection of articles.

Reflective and with a healthy dose of respect for the tasks ahead of him, Ákos assesses his new role: “Definitely the biggest challenge in my professional life so far,” he openly admits. “It is not easy for me as a manager to find the right balance because I was just part of the team myself. I’m in the process of developing my own leadership style.” Continuously learning in order to grow personally – that has always been Ákos’s greatest motivation. Now another aspect has been added: He is also committed to developing each member of his team individually. Because “working with them and with other functions at Beiersdorf, sharing and achieving the same entrepreneurial goals, that’s what I like most about my job. That’s what drives me.”

Ákos has been married to his wife Anita for four years – and to NIVEA since 2015.
Ákos has been married to his wife Anita for four years – and to NIVEA since 2015.

Sales is in his blood

Ákos, a family man, finds the energy that’s so important for intensive daily routine at work in his wife Anita, to whom he has been married for four years. And of course, their son, two-year-old Ármin. Both are a source of strength and a heaven of peace at the same time. And on weekends they spend as much time together as possible.

When he was a child himself, Ákos dreamed of becoming a race car driver, or a football player at Ferencvárosi TC. “I’m still crazy about soccer and I like to play with friends in my free time.” He also fills the tank on the field for his job. As a young boy, Ákos didn’t know that he was born with a talent for sales tasks. “My grandmother still sells homemade things,” he says. “My father, too, worked mostly in sales.”

Ákos Képes: He cuts a fine figure as goalie too.
Ákos Képes: He cuts a fine figure as goalie too.

It all started for Ákos as an intern at one of Beiersdorf’s competitors. At that time, he was still studying International Business at the Budapest Business School. An old school and soccer buddy, who was a key account manager in the company, made him aware of the opportunity. Ákos applied and got the job. “That was an enormously important moment for me,” he recalls. “This way I was introduced to the FMCG industry and was able to make a concrete career plan early on.” At 23, he was offered a permanent position as sales representative. But when the next step was delayed after two and a half years, Ákos made the decision to change companies. “I learned two essential things from this: If I am not happy with the existing situation, I have to change it myself. At the same time, I’ve become more patient with my next career move.” This was followed by tasks as a Junior Account Manager at a brewery, before he joined the Beiersdorf family in November 2015 – shortly after completing his master’s in International Relations. “At last I had arrived exactly where I belonged.”

The valuable experience of a mentor

Over the past five years, he has successfully managed numerous top customers of the Hungarian Beiersdorf affiliate as Key Account Manager. Among other things, he was responsible for the coordination of partner Tesco for three countries. One thing is clear for Ákos: “Beiersdorf Hungary has opened doors for me. Without the continuous support of our management, none of this would have been possible.” He is grateful for the various training and development events that he was able to attend as a participant in the Beiersdorf Talent Pool – because they helped him advance professionally and personally in his role as a manager. He would now like to give something back to the company and to young talents. He himself currently appreciates the fact that Endrik Hansemann has been supporting him as an internal mentor for six months. Endrik is General Manager of Beiersdorf Korea Ltd. and co-founder of the NX NIVEA Accelerator, an innovation program for start-ups in the fields of beauty tech, e-commerce and indie brands. “Whatever the topic, whenever I approach him, he shares his valuable wealth of experience with me. I am also very grateful for this!”

Ákos and his team: Szabina Szucsik, Nóra Veres and Dániel Bernáth (left picture; from left) and CATMAN Bálint Supka (right picture).
Ákos and his team: Szabina Szucsik, Nóra Veres and Dániel Bernáth (left picture; from left) and CATMAN Bálint Supka (right picture).

Not losing sight of the long-term goal

A motto with which Ákos goes through life is: “Live in the here and now! And don’t worry unnecessarily.” Nevertheless, plans for the future can be decisive for one’s own happiness, he thinks – both privately and professionally. When asked what tips Ákos would give young professionals, he has to smile. “At 32 I’m still young myself.” But he does have one well-meant piece of advice: “It may look great to quickly have a really cool job title. But what I think is even more important are long-term prospects.” That’s why every step should be well thought out. “Patience,” he says, “is a useful quality, especially at a young age.” An insight Ákos has gained on his own journey.

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Diana Lühmann

About the editor: Diana Lühmann

Since autumn 2019, Diana has been responsible for corporate communication related to HR and inspiring people at Beiersdorf. These include the areas of Diversity, Learning & Development, Career, Leadership, and Health. Previously, she was in charge of R&D Communications and explored the exciting world of our research and development.