Tünde Tóth is Group HR Director with MET Group, one of the most dynamic and fast-growing players in the European energy arena. MET is present in 13 countries, has an active role in 27 national gas markets and in less than two decades has swollen in ranks to some 700+ employees, making it one of the top 20 largest companies by revenue based in Switzerland.
This is a success story that is built mainly on one thing, says Tünde: its people. And she should know. Tünde’s own story with MET Group began in 2017; a function of her CEMS connections and the instant “feeling” she experienced with some of the company’s most senior people.
“I heard through an old CEMS colleague that MET Group was looking to grow its HR function and decided to meet with its CEO and senior executives to scope out the opportunity,” she says. “What clinched the deal for me were the people running this organisation. Here was a team and a leader that really valued people as their foremost asset. And I had a chance to start something from scratch: a blank page on which to sketch out the kinds of systems and processes from an HR perspective that could drive the ambitious growth agenda MET’s leaders had set themselves.”
Ambition is a core part of the MET Group dynamic. What began life as a “garage start-up” in 2007 has blossomed into a multi-national with eyes now firmly on the energy transition – and having a critical role to play in shifting European markets to renewable sources. Like other younger players in the energy space, MET Group is motivated by sustainability; a goal that its CEO, Benjamin Lakatos is pinning on the right mixture of business opportunities, operational efficiencies, economies of scale and – above all – attracting and retaining the most high-potential talent. So committed to nurturing talent is Lakatos, in fact, that in 2018 MET Group enacted a radical shift in the way that the company is owned.
“Benjamin and the executive team took the decision to become a management-owned organisation which means that from 2018, selected employees have had the option to buy a share in the company. It’s a reflection of the value that MET sees in its people and the commitment its leaders have to investing in them and giving them a meaningful stake in everything they do,” says Tünde.
And that’s not all. Under Tünde’s stewardship, MET Group has created a talent development programme for younger employees that sees them automatically become company shareholders on completion.
“It’s a pretty unique programme that matches our pretty unique ownership structure,” she explains. “We select young employees from within the company and train them for a year, providing internal and external coaching, exposure to the different functions and areas of the company and a chance to work on an international project to build intercultural and managerial skills. When they complete their development programme, our graduates are automatically brought in as shareholders, and we take steps to proactively help them drive their careers. It’s a way of investing in and committing to our people – and demonstrating just how much we value them.”
Tünde is herself a beneficiary of this kind of commitment to people, she adds. She is currently on maternity leave; her second since joining the company. As she prepares to transition back into her role, she appreciates the degree of flexibility and the “gradual approach” to reintegration.
Tünde’s role is as rewarding as it is demanding – and varied. She oversees HR operations across the entirety of the company and her remit touches a breadth of activities; from senior executive recruitment to training and development, to managing the shares programme on to the integration of new companies and workforces following mergers and acquisitions. HR is a function that is thoroughly integrated and valued by the most senior leadership at MET Group. It is also a career-long passion for Tünde.
“In total, I’ve worked in HR for around 17 years and it’s a field that I find fascinating and endlessly rewarding. In HR, you are working on so many fronts simultaneously and no two days are ever the same – particularly working with MET,” she says.
Tünde’s career in HR began, in fact, during her time at CEMS. As a student, she was offered an internship with German chemical behemoth, Henkel; an opportunity that connected her with an undiscovered passion and changed the course of her life.
“The whole CEMS experience changed my life, actually. Because CEMS gave me such early exposure to people from so many different cultures and backgrounds, I was able to build cultural fluency, inter-personal and project management skills – that all-important international mindset— that has set me up for success and job satisfaction from a young age.”
What advice then, would she share with other young people who are, as she was, looking for job satisfaction and success?
Connecting with passion is key, says Tünde. Taking every opportunity to root out the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences is a critical part of knowing who you are and what motivates you. At MET Group, she adds, half of the Executive Board members and a high proportion of new recruits are CEMS graduates who have found a vision and meaning within the company that resonates and drives passion.
“Everyone who loves their job will tell you that their company is different. But I think at MET, young people will find an environment where their talent is welcomed and their ideas can really translate into something concrete. There’s a lot of freedom here and it starts from day one,” says Tünde. “This is a young, fast-growing company and it’s full of incredibly talented people who are passionate about change. We have a really big role to play in the energy transition and in building a greener and more sustainable future for everyone. For anyone looking to be part of something much bigger than themselves, this is a great place to work.”