I graduated from Corvinus University in 1989, the year the communist regime ended in Hungary. I then started working at Arthur Andersen in 1991. The firm was looking for employees with English and maths skills, and a good degree, often taking non-financial graduates. I took part in very intensive financial training and started studying for my ACCA Qualification.

The firm was relatively small at that time. I performed audits, due diligence, appraisals and all types of senior assignments. The workload was unimaginably heavy and I also had to make progress with my ACCA exams. It was a very big challenge, but also a huge opportunity for me. Many multinational companies had entered Hungary, but there was a lack of finance professionals with international accounting experience.

Gabriella Dankovits FCCA

I believe that employees stay with companies if they are constantly supported in their professional development

In 1993, with my experience and training at Arthur Andersen, I was offered a CFO job at Bertelsmann, one of the biggest media businesses in Europe. However, the company had struggled with non-compliant financial reporting and processes. My task was accounting, while also developing international and group reporting standards, as well as training the finance team. Since then, I have worked in CFO and executive finance roles at major media, tobacco, financial service and insurance companies. In my current CFO role at Europ Assistance I am responsible for a wide variety of activities in several locations.

We are seeing rapid technological development and structural transformation in the insurance sector, with new platforms and technologies improving the customer experience. Companies that adopt integrated systems to remove bottlenecks in dataflows, inconsistencies in data and delays in reporting will improve customer experience and gain a competitive advantage. However, insurers face challenges due to rising claims costs because of double-digit inflation and supply chain disruptions.

Talent retention is also a massive problem as companies compete for experienced employees. High levels of staff turnover result in the loss of knowledge and skillsets, which is another challenge.

If I had law-making powers, I would have an obligatory quota for companies to spend on the training of their staff. This would be a win-win solution for all by building a more skilled workforce, increasing employee engagement and improving retention. I believe that employees stay with companies if they are constantly supported in their professional development.

Supporting team spirit is important to me as it ensures a psychologically safe working environment

I enjoy my role as CFO because I have both a complex view of, and influence over, a wide range of areas across the company. I constantly learn new things because of the changing business environment, and I enjoy interacting with the many diverse teams while implementing both corporate strategies and process improvements.

I also like mentoring my colleagues, to help develop them professionally by providing demanding individual or team tasks and supporting them meet these challenges. My biggest achievement has been building and recruiting high-quality teams and motivating colleagues to achieve their best performance. Supporting team spirit is important to me as it ensures a psychologically safe working environment.

If I wasn’t an accountant, I would try an insurance role. I believe in constant learning and professional development. A few years ago, I got my Advance Diploma in Insurance and I have Chartered Insurer status.

In my spare time I like reading and listening to music of all kinds. I play the violin and the piano. I’m a big fan of hiking with family and friends as there are many beautiful, relaxing places in the countryside.