Interview – 18. Aug 2019
Mr Soos, may I first ask you how to pronounce your Hungarian name correctly?

Schosch, like schedule – Schule at the beginning and at the end.

Thank you, then we can start: What did you study and would you like to do something different today?

I’ve completed three studies. My basic studies are in mechanical engineering, with specialisation in automation and polymer technology. A few years later I completed my business studies and obtained a diploma in entrepreneurship.

And did you make the right choices?

Yes, actually I did. I am satisfied with what I have studied. I just regret that I wasn’t able to complete all my studies at Cambridge like the last one. The experiences there were overwhelming. Back in 2000, before joining the EU, studying abroad was not a matter of course in Hungary. My sister studied here in Vienna, and I had the opportunity to come to Vienna.

Did you do business administration in Austria?

I did one semester at WU here in Vienna, but primarily studied in Budapest at Corvinus University.

Where did you work before Syngroup?

I worked in three countries. I started my career in Denmark, where I also partly worked with robots. Later I worked for a plant construction company. Then I went to Germany to a Siemens subsidiary and finally to Austria, until I met a colleague from Syngroup almost two years ago – via the Oxford-Cambridge Alumni Club . He told me about Syngroup and so I came to the first interview.

Gergely Soos, Manager
And were you immediately convinced that Syngroup was the right company for you?

It was a bit different for me. I was very interested in consulting I really wanted to do something new, if you will, contemporary, that has a future and offers more flexibility. But the decision was not easy. I was already in a senior position in my former company. The decision-making process lasted almost a year. Then I made my decision, and then everything went smoothly. But it wasn’t straight forward.

But it was well considered.

You could say that, yes.

Would you say that you are a born consultant? What appealed to you about the consulting business?

I don’t know, I don’t think a born consultant exists. Maybe some have a greater affinity for it than others. But basically you have to learn a lot. I had the great advantage over people who come directly from university of having a lot of experience with large companies. And I’ve always been worried, for example, by how carelessly large companies make mistakes and by what doesn’t work properly. Over time it became clear to me that it is much more interesting for me to understand and optimise the processes themselves than to just look at the products that come out of them. I have noticed that I feel much better in consulting than in industry.

Have your expectations of Syngroup been met so far?

I got what I expected. (laughs) I already had very, very good interviews with four of Syngroup’s eight partners when I was hired. Especially with Wolfgang Hillerbrand, that was very convincing. I was impressed by the company’s knowledge of how thoroughly they approach everything. I wasn’t surprised by anything that went on in the company later, because I had already discussed all this very thoroughly before.

And what do you expect now? How should things continue with Syngroup?

I am still at the very beginning, but I plan to develop further and of course to become better and better.

That means the immediate future is now focused on Syngroup.

Yes, that’s how it is.

What does a working day or week look like to you? Is it even possible to give an answer?

No, not really. With me there are two different possibilities: one is travelling, you are then travelling in the usual way Monday to Thursday and then Friday in the office. It’s different for the client, sometimes we’re only in production, sometimes only in administration. We work together with everyone, from the assembly line employee to the managing director. In this broad spectrum, it’s all about convincing each individual in his or her own way to implement our suggestions for improvement in his or her work. 

The other part of my job, when I’m in Vienna, is creating a lot of data analysis concepts and working on supply chain topics etc. I always do that with Wolfgang Hillerbrand. 

What about your work-life balance? How do you manage your life?

To be honest, I expected worse in terms of workload, but fortunately that didn’t happen. Sometimes it’s a lot, but it’s bearable. But of course it’s not always easy with family and friends when you’re out and about. But in a management position, no matter in which industrial enterprise or other company you can’t expect anything different. I was also on the road a lot for the companies where I worked previously. There you often had to travel very spontaneously, from one day to the next. Here it is much easier to plan and therefore far less critical. And when you come home on Thursday evening, it’s very nice (laughs).

And may I ask, what do you do in your spare time?

Well, I have children, so my free time is already planned. (laughs) A lot of family, friends, sports. Such things.

I'd like to come back to the beginning of the interview very briefly, when you stressed that you regret that you weren't able to do all your studies at Cambridge. Cambridge is, of course, a big name - what are they doing better there than here?

For example, one is not expected to read a book and then reproduce it one-to-one in the exam. You‘re expected to compare theories and develop ideas. There the task is not to repeat the current state of knowledge, in whatever area, but to think ahead and further. In such an environment, unique possibilities arise. I also remember a sentence from my favourite professor who said that not everyone has to become CEO, but everyone should deal with what interests him and he should learn to gather the right people around him. I think that’s something you don’t hear often.

In your opinion, does this also have to do with a difference in mentality between, say, German-speaking or Central European countries and the Anglo-American culture?

Yes, of course: the English or American culture deals with mistakes quite differently, you could almost say that they like them because you can learn something from them, they can draw potential for improvement from them. Then you are not afraid to make mistakes. This is very liberating and motivating – and stands in strong contrast to Germany or Austria, for example, where there is always a climate of fear and many people feel accordingly insecure. 

You speak some languages, may I ask which ones?

I speak German, English, Hungarian and I also learned Danish. This is clearly the most difficult language. Especially when it comes to pronunciation, it is not dissimilar to German or English in terms of grammar. Even in the country people sometimes don’t understand each other (laughs). 

Are you satisfied living in Vienna?

Yes, we did not plan to move to Austria at that time. I was wooed away by my former boss. In the beginning we found Vienna a bit different. 

That is also the long-standing claim of the federal capital. (laughs)

Well, we came from Germany and thought it would be the same here. But it is not. It is different. Two different cultures, two different worlds, I have to say. In the beginning we were even a bit shocked. We used to live on the French border near Luxembourg, near Strasbourg, where the foreigners were the French, the world is different there. Vienna as a city is brilliant, you can’t complain about it. But it took us a little time to understand how everything works.

The Germans are foreigners here too. (laughs)

And the Hungarians. (laughs)

Now I'd like to take you to another level: Are there areas where you want to change the world? And if so, how do you see the opportunities?

Changing the world, well, the only thing that really drives me is the thought of using time, Carpe diem, so to speak. I can’t stand it when people spend time with meaningless things that don’t help anyone or anything.

So waste time.

Yes, because I think that new developments and new solutions also emerge, and above all, that we improve with small steps, no matter what they consist of. I think it’s about the fundamental effort to make all things, all processes better. That, in any case, is what really interests me and what I wholeheartedly support in my consulting work. And I hope that I can also make the world a little better.

Repair instead of rebuilding.

I am not one of those who say that only disruptive innovation can help us move forward. I believe that incremental innovation – in other words, improving and further developing existing systems – is very, very important in the future.

I would now have something like a Syngroup Word Rap. So I would like to ask you to answer these questions as quickly and briefly as possible.
I wish for Syngroup:

Can we please skip this question, I can’t do anything with it.

No problem, let's go to the next one. To be a consultant means:

Challenge, flexibility and diversity.

A good consultant is characterised above all by one thing:

Very good analytical skills and very good communication skills.

A good client is distinguished above all by one thing:

So I am careful here (laughs), can we please skip this question?

Of course. My greatest strength is:

I am very eager to learn and I hope to be very strong in solving problems.

My colleagues appreciate me most of all:

I hope that the two points from the previous answer also apply here. (laughs)

What is the most exciting thing about international projects?

To support a company in different countries, at different locations and experience there how the culture works. 

And the last question: The Syngroup claim "The Efficiency-Consultants" is for me:

That we spend more time here than at home. (laughs) 

Thank you very much.