Did you know that this year our company turns 20 years old? We can’t tell you how excited we are to be celebrating such a milestone, and we wanted to share this moment of happiness with you.
Since we embarked on this adventure, each year has been like no other: we evolved, learnt from experience, adapted to new and unexpected demands and embraced change. To showcase our journey through rough and calm seas, once a month until the end of 2020 we decided to present you with our dearest moments and fondest memories.
January is kicking off strong with an interview with our CEO. You know, Gabor Kitley was about the age we are now as a company when he started it. Let’s get to know him better!
An interview with Gabor: a curious mind who loves to play with Lego
Gabor, how did all this begin?
It started in 2000, after I graduated from the university. I was looking for something to do and I met my future (ex) business partner and co-founder, Balazs. At that time, I was ready to go to Australia and spend there a year or two. I had my work permit, VISA and everything else. It all happened quite fast since then. There are times when I still wonder how we ended up here.
And how did you get involved in the EU world?
We were encouraged by a university professor to apply to an FP5 project. We liked the idea and we had some connections all over Europe thanks to the Erasmus programme both me and Balazs joined. That’s how we set up an international consortium with us as coordinators. Soon after we set up this company and we were only one month old when we submitted the proposal. And it was accepted.
What are the achievements you are most proud of?
For sure having survived so far and being able to put together 40 people under one roof! Another type of achievement for me is having set up this particular kind of company. We do something unique, I’m not aware of anyone else who does what we do. We run projects, and we also train people how to manage projects and write winning proposals. And yet, we do more than this. We let people find their own path, and the company shapes accordingly, like a living organism. Not long ago we created a startup department which focuses on entrepreneurial activities like the Startup Europe Networks and Untold Stories Budapest. We also have our own startup, Felicity, and we work on specific fields such as water and agriculture thanks to the interests of the people we have in the company.
What have been the toughest moments in the company?
A turning point for me was when my business partner, Balazs, left in 2010. It was a tough moment in which I had to prove to myself and to others that I could run the company no matter what. It was indeed an emotional moment, and it took me another ten years to understand that I have managed to move forward. There are times when I’m having lunch in the office and I still think ‘I can’t believe all these people are working for me!’.
How would you describe your leadership style?
To be completely honest, I don’t have a set style. I just hope I am the leader my colleagues want me to be. I adapt, I change, and I also fail a lot, but then I try again. And this is something I push hard in the company. I don’t mind people making mistakes, it’s natural, but the important thing is that you tried and keep trying until you’re satisfied with the result and you are committed to it.
What would you say to your younger self?
Buy bitcoin! Apart from that, I’m very happy at how things evolved, and how unpredictable they have been. There is nothing I would say to my younger self, but sometimes, now, I would like to go back being that person. Less worries, less responsibilities.
Any ideas for the upcoming years?
I really don’t know what might happen in the next years. I have many ideas that are awaiting to be put into practice, and there are always new ones in the line. Sometimes I feel like we’re in a labyrinth: you just don’t know what’s hiding behind the corner.
How do you find inspiration?
I usually hike and play Lego. Yes, I know. It was only in the past years that I started building things with Lego bricks, and I found it helps me restart and focus again. And I’ve always loved hiking. That is something I take very seriously, and it also helps me disconnect and come up with fresh ideas. I just take my backpack and I start walking until I get tired.
And now something a bit different… what is your favourite pizza topping?
I have to say the pizza with cured ham is my favourite.
About EMG Group
EMG Group is a group of SMEs active in the field of EU research and innovation. At company level we have different roles: we are coordinators and partners in many EU projects, but we also train others to write excellent proposals and run smoothly their projects. EMG Group was established with a vision to consolidate under one umbrella 20 years of hand-on experience in EU project management and training.