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For our quest for the business hero, we asked Omar Balducci how he would describe it and if has ever met one.

Omar Balducci is the Sales Director Central and Eastern Europe Lucart Group and Lucart Kft Spokesman.

He was our host for the interview for the quest for the business hero. We spoke about our three central values: ethics, sustainability, and creativity, the qualities that a business hero has to approach. 

In the interview, Omar talked about his business journey, how it started and going on, what a business hero is from his point of view and if he has ever met one.

We invite you to nominate one or more than one person that you think has these qualities. The nominations will be open for the whole summer at this link

The prize for the winner is the Atlas Award, the annual prize since 2019 for the competition winner.

We also interviewed Michele Orzan, President of EuCham, Gabor Marton, a Peak-performance coach who works in Finance and Business, Gàbor Levai, Co-founder of Green Brand Hungary Alessandro Farina, Founder of ITL Group and Luigino Bottega, coach and author of “IO – how to win the game of life”.

1. Please introduce yourself (who you are, what you are doing, what your profession is…)

My name is Omar Balducci, I am Italian, I live in Hungary since 2016 and I work as Sales Director for Central and Eastern Europe for the Lucart Group, otherwise said 21 countries under my responsibility which are served by all companies of the Group at the same time I am the Spokesman for Lucart KFT, the Hungarian plant of Lucart Group.

I am specifically in charge of the AFH (Away-from-Home) division or better said, all those products which are away from the domestic use (e.g. schools, offices, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, clinics etc).
My objective is to deliver our Central and Eastern European Partners high quality eco-sustainable solutions. 

2. Let’s start with an easy game of word association. What comes to your mind when I say “business”? And what comes to your mind when I say “hero”? There are no wrong answers!

When I think about the association of the two nouns “Business” and “Hero”, my mind recalls the last week when we presented the new Sustainability Report; indeed, we introduced the new Green-Heroes category (promoted and supported by Alessandro Gassman) that is to say those ones who apply circular business models.

Business means, at least to us, relationship; my personal business model is focused on relationship, mutual trust and reliability. These three concepts, still in my personal pattern, are being characterized by the following adjectives: sustainable, ethical, innovative.

3. Now, let’s combine them together…what do you think is a business hero?

If we consider our case (as Lucart), we are not Business Heroes, but rather GREEN Business Heroes.

If we take into account the Fiberpack® project (our EcoNatural line) we made possible what looked impossible, unachievable. Lucart places the circularity of business models at the center of business activities and supports the research for alternative raw materials to reduce the over-exploitation of natural resources by reducing process waste and reuse of the process waste to recover material.

In 2010, the Lucart R&D department launched an ambitious project aimed at recovering all the materials contained in Tetra Pak® beverage cartons. This type of packaging is widely used in the food industry to protect and preserve food and for its high natural cellulose fibre content that makes it more ecological compared to other packaging materials of fossil origin. Due to its mixed composition of cellulose fibres (74%), aluminium (4%) and polyethylene (22%), this material is often not recovered at end-of-life or is recovered only partially.

Lucart achieved the ambitious objective to create two new raw materials while recycling Tetra Pak® beverage cartons: Fiberpack®, our brand which identifies the fibrous raw material (paper) and Al.Pe.® which identifies the aluminium and polyethylene component. These two materials are then being transformed into finished goods: our EcoNatural line originates from Fiberpack® and our EcoNatural dispensers line derives from Al.Pe.®.

4. Every business person goes through a journey: when did you hear your call, and how did your journey start?

There are so many journeys… but I would mention, in this case, my journey to Hungary. I heard “my call” at the end of 2015 while I was announced about my possible transfer following a potential acquisition in Hungary.
On May 31st 2016, Lucart acquired the biggest independent Hungarian Away-from-Home paper producer and my journey precisely started on 28th October 2016 when – together with my wife – moved to Budapest. 

5. Which obstacles did you encounter during your journey?

I encountered several obstacles during my journey, both business and personal.
After this acquisition I had the very ambitious objective of bringing over the Lucart Group’s pattern while making the new company more and more integrated with the mother’s group in terms of approach, mentality, and business – of course.

However, the biggest challenge was the Hungarian language: I actually underestimated the language-obstacle as I spoke fluently – already at that time – 6 languages; this gave me the false feeling of being able to bypass the language barrier. I soon realized that learning Hungarian was mandatory, so I did. I started private lessons immediately along with my wife and step by step we became more and more fluent and familiar, it was anyway a shock when we both tried to apply the same way of thinking/speaking the language while recalling the way or techniques we used to learn other languages in the past.

Learning Hungarian was a completely different thing, a totally different approach. This language is so hard as beautiful, with a very logical way of building up sentences and, after almost 6 years, I managed to reach a B2 level, and I am now studying to approach the C1. Thanks to this I could integrate myself more and more with the Hungarian environment and feel, therefore, more independent and serene/relaxed in my everyday life.    

6. Did you find a mentor or inspiring leader to help you go forward?

I have met a lot of mentors in my life and business life, however as we mostly talk about sustainability in this interview, I must mention a great mentor I am always taking inspiration from: Ellen MacArthur, a retired English sailor who broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe.

After her retirement from professional sailing, she founded the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF): a UK registered charity which promotes the circular economy while promoting the adoption of a circular approach, working to solve big problems like climate change, waste, and pollution. Ellen rethought how we design, make, and use the things we need from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. She really represents a hero and a mentor to me, someone to take inspiration from. 

7. What important lessons did you learn, and what is your contribution to society?

I am learning continuously, every single day, while acquiring experience and knowledge from every single person I manage to meet with. Through relations, cooperation, and reciprocal support I have learned that we can overcome obstacles that looked impossible. There is a statement that I continuously repeat to myself: “never stop learning as there is no knowledge that is no power”.

8. Atlas World is looking for business heroes with an Ethical, Sustainable, and Creative approach: can you think of someone that embodies these qualities?

Yes! I know a person who was a former Slovenian Partner of mine and – especially – always a good friend: Niko Kumar.

Niko is an entrepreneur. His career started in 1993 in company Valtex as a shareholder Valtex has become one of the most visible distributing companies for professional facility hygiene products in Slovenia in 27 years under his management.

In 2020 Niko has fully committed to scaling projects of circular economy; Circular Shield has been established and it is managed by him. Circular Shield activates municipalities, public waste management companies and residents to design a municipal material cycle for beverage cartons and hygiene paper in the local community and thus revitalize the circular economy.

9. Do you consider yourself a business hero?

If I do consider myself a Business Hero? Well, not at all. However, I consider myself a GREEN Business Hero as I have the pleasure and the honour to represent the most sustainable company in the tissue paper business (and not only!): Lucart.

As I mentioned above, if we take into account the Fiberpack® project, I immediately feel proud of talking about it: we managed to transform a waste into a great opportunity, a second generation of paper and the creation of a new precious plastic material to be used for everyday objects.
If we look at few numbers, everybody will define us “Green Business Heroes”.

Nominate now your business hero for the 2022 Atlas Award:
Nominate now your business hero for the 2022 Atlas Award:
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