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Mentors and mentees – Focus search

Mentors and mentees – Focus search

Melinda Utasi is an analyzing and consulting type of person, however if it is needed in order to serve the development, she definitely declares unpleasant truths as well. She does not consider the failure and the difficulties being problems to be avoided by all means, rather events that we can learn from.

How did you get into the business world?

I started a construction business with my ex-husband even in 2004. I managed the financial affairs of the company together with business and financial planning. The enterprise is still running, and I am owner even today. By the way, after graduating at the Budapest Colleges of Economics, I also got a degree in the business development specialisation at the University of Szeged. Obviously, my choice of profession was not a coincidence, the years spent in Szeged just confirmed to me that I really like the entrepreneurial sector.

Didn't your family, like your parents, do business?

Interestingly, I just recently wondered if there was any family history of my entrepreneurial life. I was graduated at the Budapest College of Economics with a degree in commerce and my mother being merchant at that time, suggested to hire and operate a mixed store. However, I didn't feel myself enough strong to start any business at that time. After a few years, however, my husband and I found it feasible.

You said you didn't feel yourself enough strong to start a business. Does the entrepreneur need to be strong for this?

Yes, an entrepreneur must believe in itself and has to be enough strong to carry out processes, to realize ideas, whatever happens.

After the divorce, I think you set up your own business.

Yes, that's exactly what happened. We divorced in 2015 and I established my own business in 2016. By the way, I do what I did in the previous company: consulting, financial planning, accounting, education, training.

Why did you decide to apply for the Personal Entrepreneur Mentoring Program as a mentor?

I would start a little farther. I really believe in small and medium-sized enterprises, and especially in small ones. In view of the fact that they are the backbone of our economy they should be strengthened either for becoming bigger or for increasing their stability. There are huge opportunities in domestic SMEs. I would like to pass on the experiences I have gained in my business or as a self-employed person.

For example, what experiences?

For example, our joint venture with my ex-husband survived the 2008 global crisis. I do not need to explain specifically how deeply did it push the construction industry having been weak before the crisis as well. It was a very difficult period ... But difficult times also have a good, forward-looking side: for example, in such cases, you cannot avoid revising everything from the ground up. That's what we did. We discussed and recalculated everything, redefined our goals, we made rationalizations and so on. Thank God, the enterprise has been running ever since. However, its price was to take steps that we might not have taken in „a time of peace”.

There are difficult periods in the life of every businesses. At the same time, they are afraid of failures. I would like to highlight that how bad are failure and crisis in the short term, at the same time they are offering new opportunities in the long run. These new chances need to be noticed and seized.

Businesses in Hungary do not have a long entrepreneurial history, so the majority of entrepreneurs in Hungary give up trying after a failure, do not start a new business. Even if they have some good ideas. However, the entrepreneurship is like life: sometimes we fail, but we have to go further.

It is interesting and important what you say, given that many mentors apply to the mentoring program, because they get stuck, have stopped, in a certain sense they are in a crisis.

There are several reasons for the stoppage, for example, the company has reached a stage in its life where it is no longer able to operate with the methods and processes used up to now. It is necessary to think over everything, to reorganize the company and to start again. That's what I want to help.

Have you ever been involved in some form of mentoring on one side or the other?

I have good contacts with the University of Szeged, and I have already received student as mentee form there. So, I have some mentoring experiences. I helped several enterprises in business planning, though not as a mentor.

What kind of mentoring method do you envision?

I'm usually an analyst and consultant. But ... I am not scared even when something has to be stated, even if it is not a pleasant thing because it helps development. I am not afraid to declare definitely something in order to help development. At the beginning of the process, it is necessary to clarify the reason why a mentee is looking for a mentor. It can easily happen that even the mentee itself is not able to tell this.  However, one reason must be definitely identified, the reason being a key factor in the life of a given business, and we have to start working on it. I don't think to run the process on several threads. It is necessary to find a focus and the mentee has to know where to go and what to achieve. I think finding this focus point is the most difficult task.

When would you be satisfied with your work in this mentoring program?

If the mentee can find the very important point of the business affecting the whole activity, by thinking over and implementing it, both company and mentee could have opportunity to be developed. If the mentee feels that due to my help it can be easier to understand processes and to see better what to do.

Károly Bognár