An interview with Andras Busch, General Counsel at Siemens Energy Hungary.
CEELM: Can you walk us through your career leading you up to your current role?
Andras: I started practicing law in 2005 as a trainee lawyer, after graduating from the University of Szeged. I got my basic education as a novice in the filed working for Noerr, until I completed my bar exam in 2009, which is when I joined Siemens as an in-house lawyer.
I stayed as a Legal Counsel with Siemens for almost six and a half years, until 2015, when I joined Siemens Healthineers as Head of Legal and Compliance, and then in March of this year I migrated to the position of General Counsel at Siemens Energy Hungary.
CEELM: What are the most significant changes you’ve seen in Hungary’s legal market over your career?
Andras: It’s more and more digital each passing year. Especially lately, court procedures are undergoing a digital overhaul, and public procurement processes as well. These are some big changes for lawyers who are used to doing this in a different way, sometimes going through mountains of paperwork and filing documents in triplicate. Also, there have been a lot of legislative changes – enough to keep us on our toes, forever improving and educating ourselves in order to be able to provide clients with real, tangible advice, which can sometimes be tough.
CEELM: Why did you decide to join Siemens?
Andras: I always wanted to be an in-house lawyer. I think that this position – leading the business, not just counselling it at key junctures – this gives you a great inside perspective into how businesses operate.
CEELM: Tell us about Siemens Energy Hungary and about its legal department. How big is your team, and how is it structured?
Andras: The company is a newly demerged company, active since March 1, 2020, so there aren’t a lot of us – we are but a three-person team. We are currently discussing how to proceed based on legal areas we ought to cover. We have three active sites in Budapest each with its own needs – two of which are factories, requiring daily handling and legal advice.
After the COVID-19 crisis passes we will have to see what the new setup of the market is and what it looks like.
CEELM: What is your typical day at work like?
Andras: Back when I used to work as a trainee there were a lot of major projects which required writing legal opinions, doing very deep legal checks, and evaluating legal problems. In-house, on the other hand, means that you have to advise the business itself on how to proceed based on this advice – not just analyze the legal reality and leave it at that. What I learned as an in-house lawyer in the very beginning is that you have to provide not only advice but also structure the situation – you cannot clutter the field with a 20-page legal opinion when the management needs a yes/no answer.
This sometimes means that you have to think of the broader picture – focus on other topics which are relevant to the business and prioritize daily duties which include a lot of managerial work as well. Still, I don’t just perform managerial duties for the department – I also do operative tasks as a lawyer for the management.
In the past month and a half, however, most of the work has involved following the legislative updates via the Legal Gazette – mostly looking for changes to the employment laws. Sometimes the changes were happening so fast we had to timestamp our advice so as to have the management know the exact hour and minute!
CEELM: What was your biggest single success or greatest achievement with Siemens in terms of particular projects or challenges? What one thing are you proudest of?
Andras: That’s a very good question! I’ve been with Siemens for more than ten years now, so there are quite a few projects that I’m fond of. Still, I have to mention one from the very beginning involving a merger of two factories in a regional company. The end result was that a 400-person company became a two thousand employee behemoth with three sites in Budapest – all in the course of one year! These were very exciting times.
CEELM: How would you describe your management style?
Andras: What I have learned, especially now, is that what must be done first is identify the problem and make decisive calls. I like to label all the issues and provide the management with this layout – often times I know that all they’re waiting for to proceed with a decision is the legal opinion, so there is no time to spare.
I often feel like legal has to be faster than ever before, given the pace with which the world runs these days – business is a living thing now. I like to take a step back whenever I can and take in the big picture, get the broader perspective on things, in order to be able to best direct the team and what we do.
CEELM: On the lighter side, what is your favorite book or movie about lawyers or lawyering?
Andras: What else could I answer: The Devil’s Advocate.