The city of Komarom is about an hour’s drive north of Budapest, Hungary. Here, people with their own dreams come together. In January this year, SK Battery Hungary (SKBH)’s production line began operation. If the second plant begins mass production in 2022, the production capacity will increase much more. Like this, SKBH’s dream comes to fruition. And the dreams of people there also grow. Are you curious to know how people who are making the history of European EV batteries at SKBH are recruited?
▲ SK Innovation’s battery production plant in Komarom, Hungary. Currently, the Plant 1 to produce batteries with an annual capacity of 7.5 GWh is completed. When Plant 2 is completed, these facilities will be able to manufacture batteries of 16.5 GW per year.
This factory consists of all locally hired people in Hungary except 14 Korean expats. The engineers at the plant in Hungary are playing a leading role in the fast-growing European EV battery market. We met Nora Pali, an HR manager responsible for recruiting and managing human resources in SKBH in Hungary.
Q1. Nice to meet you. Can you introduce yourself?
Hello. My name is Nora Pali, and I’m in charge of Human Resources (HR) as part of the Operation Support Unit of SK Battery Hungary (SKBH). I majored in transportation engineering at a university in Hungary. After graduation, I worked for the HR team of a medical device company before joining SKBH in April last year. Here, I work as an HR business partner and support various aspects of HR-related tasks such as recruitment and training.
Q2. Engineers here are mostly hired locally. How is the hiring done? What are the criteria for hiring the employees?
SKBH mostly uses job platform sites. We register our company information on job search platforms, that many job seekers visit, and invite those interested in our company to an interview. The HR manager and the team manager conduct interviews together in the hiring process.
The criteria for hiring good employees are largely job suitability and personality. HR managers like me evaluate the applicant’s history and personality, and the team manager assesses the ability to perform the job. At SKBH, which is still in its early stages, it is very important to hire the right people in the right positions. So I am very proud of my job doing these things.
Q3. How do you advertise and promote the company when Hungarian people are not yet familiar with SKBH and the battery business?
In addition to job platforms and outdoor billboards, we promote SKBH by consistently posting information on social media that people use frequently.
In particular, we have a Facebook team that actively uses Facebook to promote SKBH. Many people are interested in SKBH’s Facebook page as it has thousands of followers. So, we not only publicize the company and post job openings but also provide useful notes such as information on commuter buses in other regions and the information necessary for our employees.
Last year, I visited high schools a few times in consideration of hiring future talent. Although students were not our main recruitment targets as they have not yet decided their career, we introduced our company and offered indirect experience opportunities.
Q4. What do you think are the strengths of SKBH?
We have a geographical advantage since Komarom is located between large Hungarian cities, Budapest and Győr. SKBH has great accessibility as it is in an industrial complex where many large companies’ factories are located. Close to the Slovak border, people living there can also work in SKBH. SKBH provides commuter buses in each region for the convenience of members.
Q5. Despite all that, do you have any difficulty in hiring workers?
For HR managers, more job seekers are better. In this regard, Hungary has pros and cons. Hungary’s unemployment rate is currently under 2%. Except for voluntary unemployment that refers to not having a job because the unemployed do not want to work, we can say that our country is achieving full employment. Of course, the fewer number of people looking for jobs makes hiring difficult. But having a lot of people who have worked at various companies can be a favorable condition for us.
Another issue is brand awareness, a difficulty commonly experienced by newly started companies like SKBH. This will be solved as people’s awareness of SKBH increases over time. Also, it may not be easy for workers to understand various processes and tasks at SKBH, but our employees are receiving high-quality training from Korean engineers and headquarters.
Q6. How do you feel about working in the battery business of SK Innovation aiming for a Hungary Insider?
It is very different from the world I’ve been through. So, there are a lot of changes for me and I’m learning how to adapt. Also, language difference is one of the problems I face. Understanding the nuances of language I’m not familiar with is very difficult, therefore we need to try to describe and explain in more detail when communicating with others. But problems with different languages will be less and less over time as communication continues. If you look closely at SKBH, you will feel that cooperation within the company is very good. SK Innovation has invested heavily in Hungary. SKBH’s commitment to communication and cooperation among the members ensures that this investment will pay off.
Q7. Lastly, is there anything you want to say for SKBH?
I’ve heard that many people felt sorry for the withdrawal of the Nokia factory in Komarom a few years ago. It had good reputation for being family-friendly and listening to employees. So we can understand what they want. SKBH is a company that goes out for the happiness of its members. As the management philosophy of SKBH spreads, we expect more talented people to join us. I wish SKBH and Komarom will become the center of battery industry for electric vehicles in the World.
Nora Pali is working hard to put the right people in the right place at the new forward base in Hungary! We root for her as she continues to fulfill her role as a great HR business partner of SKBH.