#13: The powers behind Meijer&Co. Consultancy: Gábor Molnár

Mirjam Donáth
1 December 2023

As part of introducing the people behind Meijer&Co., meet Gábor Molnár, Advisory Board Member for the sustainability recruitment company.

“The biggest green statement I can personally make is to invest money into sustainable businesses.”
Gabor Molnar builds businesses for a living. He is a businessman in the most literal sense of the word. Yet ask him about his profession and he’ll pick “economist” over any fancy title in his world. A firm believer in the “Invisible Hand” (that drives us, selfish humans to benefit markets and society while we fight for our own prosperity), Gabor experiences the workings of such a hidden force in his own career. At 36, he is responsible for developing and executing renewable energy projects for one of the fastest growing energy companies in Europe. He is at the birth of more and more green energy plants, a go to expert for main European energy conferences to analyse how green technology can and will be able to intersect with the conventional power generations - and a proud driver of his hybrid car, Mercedes-Benz. How has the “Invisible Hand” made friends with Gabor Molnar and what does it mean for MeijerandCo?
“Why would you want to work for the mafia?” asked 10-year-old Gabor’s parents following his announcement that he would become a mobster. “Why, I want power, money and to make an impact,” young Gabor would reply so firmly that even to this day his agricultural engineer parents, who brought up their two sons in the Great Hungarian Plain, like recalling the conversation. Their boy felt prepared: by then he had already had 6 years of competitive judo under his belt and brilliant grades from school. Every one of those excellent grades was rewarded with 25 HUF and he diligently saved all his coins for the bank account that his parents had opened for him. “I have to admit, even as a young kid I was pretty focused on money,” remembers Gabor his deep interest in how money is made, how businesses work. “I’ve always been conscious about finances.”

Finances and nature. While his older brother fought for spending TV time watching Discovery Channel, Gabor stuck to National Geographic. It was freedom he was after. He never ended up crossing the law, but made bold moves to become independent. Three years after revealing his career dreams to his parents, at age 13, he left his hometown of “yawning forests, flowery meadows and quiet billabongs” – as its official homepage describes tiny Gyomaendrod –  for Szeged, the third-largest Hungarian city to attend high school. Four years later he left Szeged for Budapest to get his Bachelor’s at one of Hungary’s leading universities in economics, and even though after graduation he found himself financially independent as a McKinsey analyst, he also quit his dream job at the global management consulting company after three years. He felt that he had only partly achieved the goals of his 10-year-old-self. He still felt restless.
“I’m the type of guy who always focuses on the next and the more in terms of achievements,” Gabor explains why he turned his back to the city and spent “a year of recharge” back in nature with his parents again. Recharging meant the preparation for the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) program and engagement in some significant freelance gigs. At that time Gabor had “zero knowledge” of the energy sector. Instead, he had a deep understanding of the workings of the so-called “commodities markets” (that are traded, just like currencies, with the speed of light) and complex systems (the very reason he finds the massive infrastructure of the grid, the power plants and the consumers “amazing”.) MET Group, the Swiss-based energy business, had just acquired the then troubled Dunamenti Power Plant, the largest gas-fired plant in the Hungarian electricity system with a total output of 769 MW. The task of the team Gabor joined was to create a full diagnostic of the plant’s running costs. “We needed to perform a turnaround in order to save the plant”, says Gabor, who spent long months in 2014 on the industrial site of the historic plant and has never left MET Group ever since. For the last 8 years he has been busy contributing to the growth of the renewable energy part of the business. He has found his calling. “I find the energy industry to be at the intersection of everything I am interested in, not to mention its political, geo-political and business relevance,” Gabor says. “In the last 10 years I couldn’t get bored of it, why, not even fully familiar with it. You can always dig deeper.”

Ede Borbely (the non-executive director of MeijerandCo), a mutual friend, introduced Gabor to Thijmen Meijer. “The obvious way I can help MeijerandCo,” Gabor says about his “honorary role” of advisory board member for the sustainability recruitment firm, “is by sharing my own extensive network for potential green candidates and even green clients that reaches beyond Hungary in the Eastern and Western European markets.” He helps shape strategy too, and reveals market opportunities as soon as a certain market picks up.
Gabor speaks eloquently. Listening to him feels like watching a river flow – with always a new turn, a new possibility to continue one meaningful thought with another in a strictly logical manner. He admits that he always tries to find logic in whatever he analyses. “This is also how I work when I try to understand friends,” he laughs, and since the word logic keeps appearing in our conversation, it only seems logical to ask him if he ever solved the Rubik's cube. He did. “It really drives me mad,” Gabor says. “It has its own logic but as I try to solve it quickly, I realise that there is a better way than counting on pure luck. It’s not my game.”

Gabor misses nature around his apartment that is located in the centre of Budapest, and tries to spend family time in the countryside with his wife and two young daughters. Among their everyday green habits he lists their mostly vegetarian diet and a sustainable fashion business run by his wife. “I am not a prepper myself,” Gabor admits. He often has to remind himself that the evidence of the climate crisis is now here, and that large-scale changes are coming to society on how power and food are generated and distributed. He hopes that the “Invisible Hand” will now start working for a sustainable world. “I don’t believe that the transition can be prompted by the consciousness of the people or by CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) of the companies at the necessary scale. I believe in motivation-based transition,” Gabor says. “It must be triggered by economic incentives.”
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