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Judit Karas

Judit Karas: Your Journey Is My Passion

Judit Karas is a renowned business consultant, trader, and founder of Blue Lagoon Cambodia, a resort that embodies her values of spirituality and harmony. With a rich career spanning multiple countries and industries, Judit is a strong advocate for women’s empowerment and gender diversity in the financial field. In this feature article interview with Global Woman Magazine, Judit shares her insights on leadership, organization design, start-up mentorship, and more.

Judit’s journey began in the ’90s when she saw the opening period in Eastern Europe as a great opportunity. With an ambitious spirit and a desire to make her mark, Judit found it attractive to work for a multinational company. She then transitioned to the market economy, where her focus was on goals, performance, and profit for decades. Today, Judit is a well-respected business consultant and trader, working only on topics that she loves and enjoys. She plans and manages her time herself, allowing her to incorporate her values of spirituality and harmony into her work at Blue Lagoon Cambodia.

As a mentor to start-ups, Judit believes in having an unbiased, open attitude and sense of purpose. She encourages entrepreneurs to consider the market, buyer, and customer needs beyond the idea and to attune to customers and know and love them. Judit also emphasizes the importance of incorporating changes into plans and reviewing progress, results, and lessons learned. Her leadership skills include quick decision-making, opportunities to reflect and learn, empowerment, and celebrating successes.

In our non-binary world, it is important to come to terms with the idea that the financial market does not operate on a gender basis.
Judit Karas

What inspired you to pursue a career in business, and how did you get started in the industry?

I saw the opening period in Eastern Europe in the ’90s as a great opportunity. As an ambitious recent graduate, I found it attractive to work for a multinational company. My goal was to make my name “the solution” if a company is planning a greenfield investment or relocation to Hungary.

How do you balance your work as a business consultant and trader with your role as founder of Blue Lagoon Cambodia?

I only deal with topics that I love and enjoy working on. I plan and manage my time myself. The difference between time zones has additional potential. I work with wonderful professionals, amazing people, and the success of our clients is fundamental to us. Working consciously, making money, relaxing, keeping in touch with people is the key to holistic fulfilment for me.

Can you tell us about a particularly challenging project you worked on in your career and how you overcame obstacles to achieve success?

I come from a country where the legislative environment is changing really quickly.

The number of employees in my company was several hundred when our main activity was made impossible by a legislative change in 2008. The situation was particularly difficult, as shortly before that we had been awarded for our business results.

We changed profiles, I was looking for new business partners I couldn’t employ for them, I helped them find a new job. There are always two sides to the coin, challenging situations are also new opportunities.

As a mentor to start-ups, what advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to grow and scale their businesses?

  • Have an unbiased, open attitude and sense of purpose.
  • Consider what the market, buyer, and customer need.
  • Analyse other factors beyond the idea.
  • Attune to customers and know and love them.
  • Incorporate changes into plans and review progress, results, and lessons learned.
  • Consider each other’s strengths instead of competing and create synergy.
  • Get started, do it, and don’t wait for the perfect version or date – the best time to start is today.

How do you approach organization design and development for large-scale companies, and what are some common challenges you observe in this area?

I approach it responsibly and consciously because a company employing 800 people has a strong impact on the life of a small town. A large company can have a direct or indirect impact on the lives of tens of thousands of people. It is never intended to harm the individual, but the achievement of the community’s interest and goal is non-negotiable. Here’s how we implement it; how do we achieve it? Who do we need? — Mapping and winning competencies, know-how, suppliers, service providers, and partners, creating an optimal organizational structure, selecting and developing capable leaders, attracting and developing all stakeholders.

Large companies tend to think that they have unique problems – because managers do not talk to each other about problems and less beautiful numbers. In my experience, there are typical cases and challenges, but at the same time, solutions tailored to the individual and company lead to success.

You are a strong advocate for women’s empowerment in the financial field. What steps do you think need to be taken to increase gender diversity in this industry?

In our non-binary world, it is important to come to terms with the idea that the financial market does not operate on a gender basis.

  • Identify the competencies needed to be successful in financial markets.
  • Arouse interest in the financial market and economic independence.
  • Show those interested which competences they have and what they can capitalize on.
  • Convey theoretical and practical knowledge.
  • Develop economic confidence.

What are some of the most important leadership skills you’ve learned throughout your career, and how do you apply them in your work?

  • Quick decision-making with refinement if necessary.
  • Opportunities to reflect, learn and move to the next level, mutual feedback, and empowerment.
  • Enough free space for colleagues to be creative – trust them.
  • Celebrate successes – your co-workers and your own as well.

What inspired you to found Blue Lagoon Cambodia, and how do you incorporate your values of spirituality and harmony into the resort’s offerings?

During my travels, I fell in love with Cambodia in 2015. The happy, healthy, harmonious lifestyle, the jungle edge life in eternal summer, the Buddhist value system in everyday life completely enchanted me. The happiness of the Khmer people, the experiences of a mother-centred, collective culture, changed my priorities as well. The pandemic has taken away the ability to travel and given me the opportunity to work remotely and earn money anytime, anywhere. In Blue Lagoon Cambodia, we are tolerant and share the joy of a business mindset and the art of creation.

We welcome transformational travellers, we offer meditation retreats, we host a yoga camp next to a tiny traditional fishing village, we offer organic nutrition, the experience of living in nature on a living lagoon beach, and more. We live in full harmony with nature.

The place, with its simplicity, radiates strength and tranquillity, with its vibration favoured and blessed by Buddhist monks.

We organize excursions to the center of the universe to discover the wonders of Angkor Wat. It is an opportunity to do good every day, to give back from all the good I receive.

How has your experience living and working in multiple countries affected your approach to business and leadership?

Every country is a new chapter, new opportunities, and a lot of experiences. I have a rich life, thanks to changes I have made which have led me to where I am now.

In the first 20 years of my life, culture and sports were of great importance and everyone could afford them at that time. From there, I switched to the market economy, the consumer society, where goals, performance, and profit were the focus for decades. Intercultural experiences also add a lot to my leadership development. The development of my leadership style interacts with the country and the company’s values and goals.

I am lucky to live in a country where spirituality has been dominant for the past 8+ years. An optimistic milieu gives a lot to the spirit and soul. It is easier to be patient and resilient from here and to give security and strength to those living in a stressful environment, even if the Internet and online platforms often channel this.

What advice do you have for women looking to succeed in male-dominated industries, and how can they overcome challenges they may face along the way?

  • Stand up for yourself.
  • Be bold and realistic when it comes to contract terms.
  • Do what you love and don’t do anything just for the sake of getting something in return.
  • Love yourself.
  • Be yourself, define what you want to achieve, what you like, and be professional in your field and persistent.
  • Success, recognition, and payment will come as soon as they realize the value of their work.
  • When in doubt, listen to your gut and don’t take the job. You will find better!
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