Catching up with Csilla Ábrán, 2016 Quinnipiac University’s Hungarian American Business Leaders scholarship program participant
The scholarship program offers the best and brightest young Hungarian business leaders the opportunity to earn an American MBA and gain substantive experience with the American customer-first approach to business. During the two-year MBA, students work part-time at American companies. They are then able to work up to 18 months full-time before returning to Hungary.
When Csilla came to the US to participate in her scholarship, she was working in tax and accounting for Kyle Hamilton Consulting, Stratford, Connecticut. She held a Corporate Financial Management degree from the Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsár), Romania. Prior to moving to the US, she worked as an analyst for British Petrol and as a credit controller of Marso Romania.
Where are you on your study/career path now, Csilla?
My passion for economics and finance started with my Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Banking at Babes-Bolyai University in Kolozsvár. During my first years of college, I have attended several case study competitions, where we presented various strategic solutions in teams of four to mid-size and corporate level companies. One of the most memorable contests I have attended was the KPMG International Case Competition where we attained 2nd place at the national level by building a cross-country sales and action plan for Samsung’s latest product in 2014. Following my undergrad degree, I started working at a mid-size tire distribution company managing its credit portfolio (approx. $19M in revenue) by monitoring and setting credit limits, examining payment plans, and conducting litigations. During this time, I have also established the first credit scoring system of the company mitigating exposure to counterparty risk.
After working and studying for a while in Hungary and Romania I felt it was important for me to expand my horizon by applying for the Hungarian-American Business Leaders Scholarship offered by Quinnipiac University and the Hungary Foundation. Hence, I was able to earn my MBA at Quinnipiac’s Chartered Financial Analyst track.
While studying in Connecticut, I started work at Otis Elevator’s World Headquarters in the Service Transformation department. I was driving the adoption of six field service Apps through the phases of user acceptance testing, pilot, and deployment in 32 countries. Our work was impacting productivity through reduced operational hours per unit (~$36M savings), an average 601% YOY App usage increase, and 150k fewer callbacks on an increased unit portfolio.
Currently, I am a Project Manager in Citibank’s Global Product Control Organization working on process automation and digitalization. The project I am working on automates accounting procedures in order to eliminate repetitive tasks and free up time for the product controllers supporting Citi’s Markets and Banking organization.
Which achievements are you most proud of since we met?
I am most proud of my projects being present at the New York Stock Exchange as part of the launch event of Otis Elevator becoming a public company. We have showcased how the Service Transformation Apps are impacting the daily lives of elevator mechanics by speeding up troubleshooting time, capturing key elevator metrics, and enabling remote maintenance through virtual assistance.
One of my projects focused on noise and vibration detection and troubleshooting has been awarded a Corporate Product Safety Award presented by United Technologies.
How did your experience with HF in the US help you reach your goals?
Through the Hungarian Business Leaders Program sponsored by HF, I was able to complete my MBA at Quinnipiac.
“Thanks to my studies I become a project lead of several digital applications deployed across multiple regions. This exposure has helped me gain confidence in my current work and be open to any challenges and opportunities that might come my way.” – Csilla Ábrán
What challenges did you have to overcome to move closer to your goals?
Adjusting to the local culture and being far from family and friends was somewhat difficult to overcome at first, however, it helped me expand my mindset and grow as a person. Now I have a deep understanding of the advantages of diversity and how an inclusive work environment can lead to outstanding results.
What impact did your US experience have on your overall journey?
Living and working in the US made me become a more understanding person who is able to bring people together from multiple cultures with different perspectives.
“Thanks to my studies abroad, returning to the Hungarian job market was a smooth process with limitless opportunities. With an MBA in Finance, I was well-positioned for any project management role within my skillset.” – Csilla Ábrán
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to continue to make a difference by challenging the status quo whether that may be in a business environment or social setting. Most likely I will continue work within the international corporate environment for a while, with a potential segue into the Fintech world. I do enjoy living in Hungary being close to family and friends.
What words of advice do you have for future recruits?
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Personally, I’ve been able to make the most progress when switching career paths or working across different cultures. Also, try to meet new people as often as possible. This way you can continue to challenge your worldview every day.
What books are currently on your reading list?
Atomic Habits from James Clear and Invisible Women by Caroline Perez.