No Overnight Success

Practical career advice from GE leaders to future leaders

Be well-informed, prepared and honest to yourself; do not be afraid of the fast paced world of business; build and take care of your network.”

These are just some of the useful pieces of advice GE leaders shared with the new generation of potential leaders, namely this year’s 32 scholarship winners from 20 reputable Central European universities at the “Day with GE”. The event was part of the currently ongoing one-week GE Foundation Scholar-Leaders Program Summer Seminar where participants acquire  widespread knowledge and experience from different companies including GE and organizations.

Following local award ceremonies in Hungary, Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic, a cross country Summer Seminar was held in Budapest on 8 July.

Success is hugely dependant on personal perception and original goals, and may neither necessary be objectively measurable, nor effortlessly achieved.

32 students from 20 reputable universities gather in Budapest to widen their horizon

32 students from 20 reputable CEE universities gather in Budapest to widen their horizon during the week-long GE Foundation Scholar-Leaders Summer Seminar (Source: GE)

So how can young talents prepare for success? How can one build their career consciously and cautiously?

Albeit there is no general recipe for success, there are some common denominators GE leaders agree on. In the following paragraphs some of them share their career tips.

Gain meaningful international experience

Beginning your international career early is essential, highlights Peter Stracar, CEO for GE in CEE. Moving to a different country, leaving one’s comfort zone behind has tremendous benefits. The regional CEO knows it from personal experience, albeit he was 27 when he first moved abroad.

Give the different continents a try; the world we live in is global and diverse. There are different leadership practices and cultures in place in Europe, Middle East and Asia; what drives and motivates people can vary greatly. Do not forget to surround yourself with knowledgeable people with an instinct to forecast the next big thing, e.g. opportunities, trends and technologies. According to Mr. Stracar, it has always paid off to have smarter people than himself in his own team.

He suggests to do a 360, discover the world, and then return to CEE to make a difference. Working for a technology company again was what he truly wanted he adds, and now the company is contributing to the creation of a new brand for CEE as an innovation hub.

Peter Stracar, CEO for GE in CEE (Source: GE)

Peter Stracar, CEO for GE in CEE advises career tips to future leaders (Source: GE)

Market yourself

Self-marketing is one of the most important skills to be aware of says Beata Stelmach, GE’s CEO for Poland and the Baltics. Choosing the right path for your career is all about marketing: you assess the demand, your capabilities and plans, consider career moves as time passes by and market yourself to those who you really want to appeal to in the government, in the private sector or in the academia.

You have the knowledge; you have the talent, maybe also some experience. Sell it properly. Be confident and show that you really have the abilities required for the job.

Beata Stelmach, GE’s CEO for Poland and the Baltics (Source: GE)

Beata Stelmach, GE’s CEO for Poland and the Baltics congratulates Polish sholars at GE Foundation Scholar-Leaders awarding ceremony in Warsaw (Source: GE)

Use your skills

Use all opportunities, suggests Joerg Bauer, President, GE Hungary. Try different career options in different industries by doing internships or student work – look for the reality check of your understanding of your future job. GE offers qualified, paid internships in many areas.

Future careers will very often require more than one set of skills – very often involving IT & data understanding, e.g. a medical professional & IT, or an economist & IT/data (+ statistics): One is often not enough.

Remain open and flexible, it is more important to learn how to be flexible and how to quickly adjust to changes than accumulating know-how, this know-how will be learned on the job as needed and very often is online available.

Without professional language skills, as a minimum English, it is not possible to be successful – “professional” stands for the ability to present and convince in this foreign language with a senior leadership audience.

Especially large corporations very often have matrix organizations with multicultural teams – the ability to work in virtual teams, cross-border and understand cultural differences is very important – elements of Emotional Intelligence, best developed in real work assignments abroad during the studies.

Joerg Bauer, President, GE Hungary (Source: GE)

Joerg Bauer, President, GE Hungary emphasises the importance of life-long learning to GE Foundation scholars (Source: GE)


When it comes to starting and building a career, it is very important to understand that you are the only one responsible for making “the best” choice.

According to  Cristian Colteanu, GE President and CEO for Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova, there are many great jobs in the world but there are only a few of them that are right for you. The best career is the one in which you’re using your abilities and talent in correlation with the values and interests that represent yourself.

Once you made up your mind on a path to follow, take a step daily towards your goal, whether it’s working on getting a promotion, completing a project or seeking out a new opportunity.

The cleverest way to look at your professional development is to never stop collecting information and know-how – be a lifelong learner if you want to have an impact, succeed, feel accomplished, as the experiences you will have will expand your world view, give you new perspectives and make you a more inspiring person.

Don’t underestimate the power of networking and keep in mind that every person you meet along the way is a potential door to a new opportunity—personally or professionally. Build good bridges as they are a key element in the continuous construction of your road to success.”

From left to right: Cristian Colteanu, GE , Elif Samedin and Agnes Vajda, IIE. Elif already designs for herself a great future in engineering

Cristian Colteanu with Romanian scholar Elif Samedin and Agnes Vajda, Director of IIE Europe at GE Foundation Scholar-Leaders awarding ceremony in Romania

Build your own brand

Use what you learned in marketing and think of yourself as a personal brand says Ilona Barcza, HR Manager GE Central Europe. Know yourself and be honest to yourself on your aspirations, strengths, and weaknesses. Create and take opportunities to get feedback on your personal brand. Be yourself as much as your environment allows. Or switch environments.

What do you think is the key to success?  Please share your thoughts in a comment.

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About the Program

Enabled by a collaboration between GE Foundation, the philanthropic organization of GE and the Institute of International Education (IIE), the GE Foundation Scholar-Leaders scholarship program, which has been run in Hungary since 2002 and celebrates its 10th anniversary in the Czech Republic this year, has become a regional model. To date, in the past 12 years GE has invested more than $2,5 million in the development of 494 talented students from the CEE and GE leaders have dedicated 4,500 volunteer hours for mentoring future leaders of this region.



  1. Kristof Kovacs says:

    Congratulations to the winners! It is good to see that GE leaders are still paying attention to young talents across CEE. Time and professional advices are appreciated for the leaders of the next generation. Keep it up!

  2. Małgorzata Gałka says:

    Thank you again on behalf of all Scholar Leaders for the opportunity to participate in the amazing Leadership Development Program. The motivation and inspiration that we feel now will help us realize our projects.


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