Kinga Babics moved from Intesa Sanpaolo’s Hungarian subsidiary CIB Bank to the Milan headquarters in 2014 to work on non-performing loans. She is now head of an office covering five countries and loves the international nature of her work.
Why did you join Intesa Sanpaolo?
I was a partner in a law firm in Budapest and some of my clients were in the financial field. I found that interesting and so when I was looking for a change I looked at banks. It was six or seven years ago and there was quite a high demand in Hungary from banks for lawyers. I really liked CIB Bank [Intesa Sanpaolo’s Hungarian subsidiary], the environment, the people and also the job.
When in 2014 Intesa Sanpaolo was setting up the new international credit department I saw the opportunity, went for it and was lucky enough to be selected.
“Working in Milan has helped me become more open-minded, more tolerant and more receptive. I believe it’s even kept me a bit younger”
Kinga Babics, head of the regional credit management office at Intesa Sanpaolo
What do you enjoy most about working at Intesa Sanpaolo?
What I do at Intesa Sanpaolo I think is quite rare; I use my legal training but I am also involved in the financial world. The bank gives me a great opportunity to broaden my experience and grow. I also love working with lots of different nationalities and living abroad. Working in Milan has helped me become more open-minded, more tolerant and more receptive. I believe it’s even kept me a bit younger.
What does your work involve?
I work in the international non-performing loans department, where four people work for me. We cover Hungary, Slovakia, Egypt, Ukraine and Russia; our mission is to be of service to the subsidiaries in their attempts to support clients who – for a variety of reasons – may be facing financial difficulties. Unfortunately, sometimes those difficulties result in bankruptcy… then we contribute to the design and implementation of damage-limitation strategies and try to minimise the bank’s losses. Each case is unique, so we need to devise an appropriate plan that takes into account the reality of each client’s current situation and the likelihood that they will be able to pay us back in the future.
The most interesting aspect of the role is its diversity. Every bank, every transaction and every situation is different; you have to be sensitive to other countries’ legal regulations, economies and culture.
What is special about Intesa Sanpaolo?
I must say, I’ve always been lucky with my bosses and with my supervisors in the Group, especially lately. In my experience if you work really hard and are motivated and engaged, sooner or later a good opportunity will come – and it might be in a different field or country.
The fact that the organisation offers generous training and special programmes to develop and educate its employees – with the aim of encouraging them to stay long-term – I’ve found especially beneficial. It really motivates me when I’m able to see a clear career path and all the opportunities laid out ahead of me. If people feel they are welcome, appreciated and needed – and that the company has a plan for them – that’s a powerful driver to retain skilled professionals.
What has been your best experience?
I love working with lots of different nationalities and using my knowledge to achieve the best possible results. I would say our department is the most international one within the group and all but one of my colleagues is from outside Italy. This diversity creates an interesting atmosphere. It’s amazing how close the different mind sets of all the different nationalities can be. I think leaving home and starting a new life in a new country is one of the best things I’ve done. It’s obviously hard, but by being flexible and open you can get so much out of it.
Where would you like to be in your career in five years?
In five years’ time, I imagine I will have two main options. Firstly, to stay here at the Milan headquarters or, secondly, to change country and move to one of the subsidiaries within the Intesa Sanpaolo family. At this stage I am not thinking about moving back to Hungary. I feel I still have lots of things to see and learn, so to continue my career abroad (in Italy or elsewhere) is what I would love to do.
Of course, one’s personal life can always affect any plans, but I still feel a lot of energy and motivation to forge ahead.
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