With much appreciation and satisfaction. Veronika Dominus

 

When I was a kid, I used to walk by a hotel almost every day. Though I felt an attraction to that place, I had no idea at the time that I would become so fascinated with the hotel industry.” That was Veronika Dominus, Director of Finance, Aquincum Hotel Budapest.  

Veronika recalled wanting to be a doctor when she was very young. “But unfortunately, needles and I do not get on well together.” Then, her first job had nothing to do with hospitality. Her parents have a cosmetics manufacturing company (which still exists), where she joined as an accountant. “Whilst working there, I attended university and graduated in economics. I also have a Tax Advisory accountant degree. At one time, my parents’ company moved out of the city and at that point I joined Unicredit as senior accountant where I stayed for seven years. I had reached a point where I needed to move to grow, so, in 2011, I applied and joined the Aquincum team as a Chief Accountant.”

Veronika and her younger daughter way back in 2019

Veronika quickly added that she had a break from work when her second daughter was born. “Not long after my return from being a full-time mother, I was promoted to Director of Finance in early 2019.

My main responsibility is to ensure that the company operates properly both financially and legally, and to inform Management and the Board every month about the hotel’s operation figures. As for day-to-day duties, I review contracts, control expenses, challenge managers to keep within their budget or forecast. But I also ensure that all the data is accurate and work to identify how we can improve our day-to-day work at Finance as well as a business unit and a team. That’s not the whole picture. There are strategic decisions or consultations on bank loans, Capex, Energy Procurement, and so on.

What was Veronika’s most demanding and most challenging experience? She did not need to think twice: “To survive the Covid period together. Those were difficult and dramatic times. Suddenly, everything changed. The hotel had no more guests. We were operating in an empty hotel, without any income. Meanwhile, the expenses (including salaries) had to be met.

Stark reality of COVID times. Working also in the garden whilst kindergarten for the kids was closed.

On the home-front, schools and kindergartens were closed; my eldest daughter was in her 7th grade at school and had to study online, though my younger daughter, who was at kindergarten, actually enjoyed that period very much, together with her parents and sister at home for a long time. When Covid was over, we thought we had passed the hardest test. In early 2022, the Russia-Ukraine conflict started and the energy prices soared, so we had to face new challenges. I had to learn new experiences such as energy procurement. To be honest, this proved to be, and still is a very interesting topic for me.”    

Helping hands-on at Christmas Lunch. Veronika (second from right) with her current executive team.

Having heard Veronika mention her daughters, I could not avoid asking her about her family. “I have two sisters and two brothers. I am the second child in the row. I have been married to a wonderful husband, Peter, for almost 20 years, and have two lovable daughters, Adele (8) and Emma (16). Emma is studying business economics in high school and hopefully will continue her studies at university. During her summer break, she sometimes works at the Aquincum as a hostess, as she speaks English ,  understands German and is now learning Spanish. Hopefully, she will be obsessed with the hospitality business like her mother and will apply for an internship programme within the Corinthia Group in Malta. Adele is in second grade, elementary school. Peter is leading the family business together with my brother since my father is now retired.

2023: Receiving the Long Service Award from Corinthia Director Joseph Pisani (right)

Veronika’s dedication at work is well appreciated. In 2018, she was voted Employee of the Year. She recalls that moment in life with personal pride and joy. “I had an opportunity to spend some time in Malta and met colleagues from other hotels. It was a brilliant experience!

Apart from the necessary academic qualifications, what makes a good Director of Finance? “One of the most important things is that the colleagues know that they can rely on my knowledge and that they can always turn to me for advice. At the same time, they know that I expect them to deliver if I ask for something. A good Director of Finance must also retain an open mind and listen to advice, ideas or suggestions on how to improve the hotel performance.

No day is the same and no day is so easy. So I when I return home, I love to relax, but it’s not that easy with two kids. I like to read before sleep when everybody is in bed. (My favourite writer is Robin Cook.) If you ask my husband, I like to reorganise the house once a year. And in summertime, I love sitting in the garden or relaxing on our small terrace with an iced coffee in hand, watching the kids in the garden or in the pool. If I have a bit more time, I like discovering new countries, new cities, with mountains, lakes and seas. But, I confess, if you are working in the hotel industry, probably, you’re not the most popular guest in the hotel, because you see things with different eyes.

With colleagues during a Malta visit

All in all, I could sense that Veronika was a satisfied mother, wife, and finance director. I could see in her a professional person who has remained humane and in touch with the realities of life. And I could almost hear her whisper to herself words of deep appreciation to so many others, colleagues, friends and family for being part of her life experience.

 Yes, I could see her sign off her letter with the words: 

‘With great appreciation and satisfaction,

Yours truly, 

Veronika Dominus’