John E. Parkerson, Jr., the University’s director of International Programs, took GlobalAtlanta’s David Beasley along on a trip to Budapest, Hungary in August for a visit with Hungarian government and industry leaders. Upon returning to Atlanta, Beasley’s story of the trip (headlined, “Georgia’s Hungarian Connection”) was posted on the GlobalAtlanta website (www.globalatlanta.com) and received 6,700 page views through the end of 2009, making it the eighth-most-viewed among all 2009 GlobalAtlanta stories.
“Government officials greeted (Parkerson) as an old friend,” noted Beasley’s story. “He is Hungary's honorary consul for the Southeast U.S. and is constantly working to promote trade between Hungary and the region.”
As honorary consul, Parkerson is the official link between Hungary and the Southeast. On a personal level, he is also developing close friendships with a growing list of Hungarian government and industry leaders, connections he believes will eventually lead to increased trade and business relationships with the Central European country of nine million people. That would not be a surprising outcome of Parkerson’s efforts since, as Beasley noted, this is a time when personal relationships are increasingly cited as an essential - at times the essential - component of international business.
Parkerson’s connection to Hungary goes back to a 2003 trade mission to central Europe sponsored by the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce and led by then-Clayton State President Dr. Thomas K. Harden. On a reciprocal trade mission to Atlanta in mid-2005, Parkerson, at the time the chair of the Clayton State University Foundation, became friends with András Simonyi, Hungary’s ambassador to the U.S., a relationship that ultimately resulted in Simonyi asking Parkerson to become honorary consul for the Southeast U.S. in 2007.
Parkerson also had a hand in another of GlobalAtlanta’s Top 10 stories of 2009. The fifth most-viewed story was about the Global Soap Project. In addition to being a member of the board and the attorney of the Global Soap Project, Parkerson also did the 501c(3) non-profit and entity structure work for the group which recycles used soap from Atlanta hotels for use in refugee camps in Africa.