HIF Renews Support for Quinnipiac’s Hungarian American Business Leaders Program

On June 1, 2017 Quinnipiac University’s Central European Institute (CEI) hosted its Annual Executive Retreat and Alumni Gathering in Zebegény at the private home of Christian Sauska. This year, the event celebrated the Hungarian American Business Leaders program’s 10th anniversary and boasted an audience of 250 leaders from domestic and multinational companies, academia, politics, and culture. HIF renewed its sponsorship of the Program with a $40,000 contribution which helps support young Hungarian leaders in attaining an MBA at Quinnipiac University and gain substantive US work experience prior to their return.

Chris Ball, Széchenyi Chair at Quinnipiac University

Each year, the Zebegény gathering serves as a nonpolitical meeting and networking opportunity for those wanting to build a better future for Hungary and the region by helping younger generations through educational and business opportunities in both the U.S. and Europe.

At the event, Chris Ball, honorary consul of Hungary in Connecticut and Széchenyi Chair in Economics looked back at the achievements of the Hungarian American Business Leaders Program (HABL) scholarship program.

The program was established in 2008 and builds into a broader multi-year program that engages a growing alumni and professional business community through alumni activities and other networking and cultural events. As a result, the scholarships are the foundation of the Central European Institute‘s long-term over-arching mission to build relationships between the US and Hungary.

Deputy Foreign Minister, soon-to-be Hungarian Ambassador to Washington and former businessman László Szabó also gave short remarks highlighting the importance of business relations between Hungary and the United States.

HIF Executive Director Anna Smith Lacey

In her remarks, HIF Executive Director Anna Smith Lacey highlighted the Foundation’s long-term support of this outstanding program:

HIF has been a strong supporter of the program because it’s run by great people with the best of intentions, because Quinnipiac has been a stable, generous and innovative educational host for business-minded Hungarians, and because the students who graduate from the program become better Hungarians by becoming a little bit Americanized. 

She also highlighted the extraordinary personal commitment of Christian Sauska to the program, whose personal example is extremely unique:

very few successful Hungarian businessmen have committed so much of their own resources for the education of the next generation of Hungarians and that is a kind of noble character that we have been missing.

Edith Lauer, a long time supporter of the program and member of the board of trustees also represented HIF at the event:

I am always deeply impressed at the knowledge and maturity of the Hungarian participants in this program.  HIF’s support continues to be a wise and worthwhile investment!

Afterwards, a panel discussion followed exploring “The Next 10 Years: America, Hungary and Global Business Challenges” with outstanding business leaders Nick Kós, Country Managing Partner of PwC Hungary,   Farkas Bársony Managing Director at GE Hungary Kft & President of AmCham Hungary and Alexandra Pleier alumnus of the HABL Program and Team Manager at Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Hungary Kft.

The panel discussed Hungarian American business relations in the era of Trump and the complementary educational benefits of the Hungarian and American educational systems.

Guests then enjoyed various classical pieces by world-famous Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogányi and a poolside reception in the sunset.

About Quinnipiac’s Hungarian American Business Leaders Program:


The HABL provides annual scholarships for two early career Hungarians per year to pursue an MBA at Quinnipiac and experience working in American companies. The students gain experience by working part-time during their two-year MBA program, then remain in the US for an additional year (or up to 18 months) of full-time employment. At the end of their scholarship period, they return home to Hungary to build their careers and share the best American business practices. In some cases, students return to Europe first then Hungary but their final destination must be Hungary and none are allowed to remain in the US beyond the scholarship period. Currently, five Hungarians are progressing in the program. alumni are working at major companies like Henkel, MVM, Travelers, Mercedes, United Technologies Corp, Falkenburg Investment, and some are launching their own companies. Since launching the Hungarian programs nearly 10 years ago, over 100 Quinnipiac MBA students have travelled to Hungary (for 2 week trips) and over 100 MBA students from Hungary’s Corvinus School of Management have travelled to Quinnipiac in return.