Zsófia Lakatos: Being a Good Person is More Important Than Professional Success.
- What do you consider the highlight of your career so far?
I can't name one thing, because a career path is not a mountain you climb and enjoy the view, it's more like a mountain range, with ups and downs. It meant a lot to me when I was elected President of the Hungarian PR Association ten years ago, the same year my book on sustainability was published in London and I was the first person in Hungary to receive the "Professional Ambassador of Sustainability" award. An important highlight beforehand, back in 2008 was when I became the Managing Director of Hill+Knowlton Hungary - at the age of 33 - and again in 2015 when, at the age of 40 and having 3 children, I had the courage to give it all up and founded my own agency Emerald PR, an affiliate of Burson Cohn&Wolfe. One outstanding moment for me was being elected Member Emeritus of the Hungarian PR Association on its 30th anniversary and when - as an international success - I was invited to the Advisory Board of the World Communications Forum Association.
- How far ahead are you planning?
In the current polycrisis period, it is almost impossible or very difficult to plan, so I prefer to think in terms of Plan B. And plans C and D. In addition to Emerald PR, I founded a crisis management company Crisis112, a sustainability consultancy BSP and most recently, a training broker agency Emerald Academy. And these are just my professional adventures.
- What is on your bucket list?
I like assignments that are really challenging, so I look forward to meeting many more potential clients like this in the future. But I have no specific bucket-list of professional aspirations, I want to keep what I have achieved - including personal relationships - and it would be great if my businesses prospered for a very long time.
- Who have you learned the most from so far?
I have learned a lot from many people. My mother taught me that life must be lived ethically, so you can have respect for yourself, from Erika Kósa that only hard work leads to success, from Dr. Gábor Hegyi, my former boss, that only those who don't work don't make mistakes, from my husband that you can enjoy life, and from my children that I am capable of more than I ever thought I could be.
- How do you motivate your colleagues?
I think I'm setting an example. The PR profession cannot be learned in a classroom – even though learning the basics is necessary – it’s fieldwork. My colleagues watch me working, solving challenges, coping with success or failure. That's how I learned the art of PR decades ago.
- Which profession would you like to try your hand at?
When I was six, I wanted to be a princess, but that ship has sailed. I know I'd be a terrible actress, waitress or stuntwoman, as I am known for tripping over my feet and crush myself often. But I am very interested in logistics and filmmaking. If I wasn’t a PR-professional, I would make films or arrange shipments, these fascinate me.
- How do you build your business relationships?
I've been working in the PR industry for more than two decades and spent 15 years on the board of the professional organization, so I'm pretty well-known in Public Relations in Hungary. I often lecture at conferences, teach in universities, appear in the media. Overall, I can make my voice heard when I have something to say. On a different level, I am spiritually minded, so I simply „attract” into my life the people I have a task to do with.
- What won’t you waste your time on?
I'd say "goldfish", but that's not PC ?So I'd rather say I don’t spend time on inflexible people who insist on their own opinion at all costs and refuse to consider other points of view. I don't even start arguing with such people, won’t try to change anyone, I simply walk away, because I believe that "above a certain level, we don't sink below a certain level."
- What are the things that anger you?
If someone badmouths the PR profession, especially someone who has no idea what we actually do, that pisses me off and I don’t leave a stone standing. But I don’t hold the grudge forever and I’m learning to forgive and forget. This is an area I’ve been working on for a while and life throws many opportunities to practice.
- What kind of voluntary work would you do?
I've been supporting the PR profession on a volunteer basis for quite a while and at Emerald PR we work for some NGOs pro bono. People in need tend to find me and - if there is any way at all – I try to help. I believe that we are born to Earth to do good to others and to be happy. Being a good person is more important than professional success.
- What don’t you spare money on?
I will spend money on quality food and travel. Travelling around the world, seeing places and meeting people with different cultures is a hobby of mine. And I love to make people happy, to surprise them, I spend quite a lot on that. When I arrange a surprise for someone for months or years and I see the joy in their eyes, nothing beats that.
- How do you relax?
As an extrovert, I regain my energy through socializing, talking to friends, having fun, I'm a serious party animal. Well, I was. I’m expecting my fourth child, so diapers instead of partying will rule my world in the next period. The miracle of a new life is given to us and I cherish every moment. Nothing is more important than that.