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The In-House Buzz: Interview with Istvan Szatmary, GC of Mediaworks Hungary

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"We have faced many difficulties and obstacles this year because of the coronavirus pandemic,” says Istvan Szatmary, Legal Director of Mediaworks Hungary.

“Our business has certainly been very affected, especially considering how quickly things have changed and how little maneuvering space we have had," Szatmary says, explaining that this has meant multiple new challenges for the company’s legal team, as they needed to "adapt to health issues and be prepared for the new way of working that awaited on the horizon." He adds: "The major issue was that this was a rather unexpected turn of events because we have never seen economies so severely hit by a pandemic. The speed of new legislation was also a major challenge for the legal team, as new rules came out almost every day, some of which may stay with us for a while.“

Szatmary points out that his team had to switch to remote working ⎼ which had a considerable impact on management tasks as well. "Managing a team remotely is hard," he says, "as you need to motivate your people to work with the same agility as before but without the traditional methods. I think in this kind of situation, trust, and communication are key. If you trust your team, they will trust you back, thereby enhancing motivation. At the end of the day, we worked it out, and although it wasn't an easy ride, we managed to get over it and conquer the situation,“ he adds with pride.

"In addition, we had to manage the human factor as well," Szatmary adds, pointing to "team members dealing with homeschooling difficulties, elderly team members being very seriously exposed to health issues, and similar but still very individual problems that we had to manage on a case by case basis.”

Looking into the future, Szatmary says that there is a distinction to be made between general issues and issues specific to his industry, including "the implementation of new EU rules related to IP rights and liability issues." According to him, "these will mean that we will have to work hard on adjusting our operations."

"Maybe the most critical general issue that we are seeing is uncertainty as to how the coronavirus pandemic spreads again – uncertainty about the upcoming weeks, let alone months," he concludes. "No one knows how we will be working or what sorts of limitations we are going to face, which leads me to believe that we all will have to be even more flexible than before. We have to adhere to the uncertainty and have to have contingency plans in place for all potential outcomes. You have to take every aspect into consideration and monitor the situation every day from every potential angle. This means that every day you become more flexible and more creative solutions arise. Some of these novel solutions may stay with us, in the long run, changing our work environment on a permanent basis.“

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