Bucharest Running Club Association is organizing the Bucharest Marathon and the Bucharest Half Marathon to which Casino Life & Business Magazine is a partner.
What was your career path until you got to the current finish line – ABRC Manager?
My career started early and intensely. I always worked in parallel with school. My first job was at TVR: I went to an audition and I qualified in the TVR teenager show team “15, 16, 17, 18 “, Youth editorial board. It was an extraordinary adventure, I had a lot of enthusiasm, at night I was working on the montage (the beginners received the most difficult montage hours), during the day I went to highschool, a few days a week I had fieldwork, I was filming, taking interviews, and on Wednesdays I had the live show, which I presented as well, together with a few other young people. I was the star of my highschool… These were the beginnings of my work as a communicator, because I started the entrepreneurship a lot earlier. My mother encouraged me ever since I was little to work and earn my pocket or holiday money: since I was 12 I started going in the summer to pick up fruit at a farm near Bucharest; I would make clothes, martisor trinket gifts, for holidays I would make gingerbread figurines and sold them. When the revolution came, I was coloring my gingerbread Christmas trees, comets and houses: the bullets were flying past our windows, but I knew that, no matter what, Christmas was coming and people wanted to have a few tasty and good looking sweets on their table. I also involved other colleagues in my “business”, choosing them on attraction criteria (the boy I liked), or on friendship and good neighboring (my desk mates ) – had I known the competition principles, I might have had chains of “Oana” sweetshops in Bucharest now . I developed the pancakes “production line” on the four burners of the stove in my mother’s kitchen: after school I would come home, make pancakes in 4 frying pans, arrange them and then sell them near Unirea Shop; the colleagues would sometimes laugh, sometimes eat some of them, it was a lot of fun, but I would make four times my mother’s salary. Then, also in parallel, I studied international economic relations and I worked in sales, advertising, international trade, sports advertising, sponsorships and sports events. My expansion period and my intense experience were at Forum Invest, where I interacted with international organizations, company and authorities, I led and ran teams and departments, I organized international economic conferences from New York to Beijing (with the specific responsibility area for Spain and Italy), I launched magazines, in other words I developed most concretely and at the highest level governmental and institutional relations, PR, public affairs, project management, business development. One of our customers was the Bucharest Stock Exchange, where I moved in 2006, with the clear objectives of attracting more investors on the capital market and to increase the number of issuers, by leverage of communication, corporate relations and marketing. I believed in the importance of the stock exchange and of the capital market for Romania’s economic modernization and I wanted to be there as well when the Bucharest Stock Exchange fulfills its mission. Unfortunately the financial crisis of 2008-2009 hit us all. I realized then that I was more of a construction person and the projects which are just beginning or expanding were more suitable for me, so, I opened the gates for the head hunters. I then underwent a recruiting process with a corporate affairs company in London which was looking for a corporate affairs director for a player on the South-East European market energy market. After many meetings and interviews I found out who the “player” was: Rompetrol. I ran the communication and corporate affairs department for the Rompetrol Group which was active in 12 countries with over 9,000 employees. The projects close to my soul which I launched there were: the group CSR strategy and platform, the strategy, management and communication of crisis situations, the application and alignment with the United Nation Global Compact principles.
Have you had persons who supported you, over the years?
There have been many guardian angels along time, but, as angels do, they stayed in the shade and I didn’t notice them. I had rather the feeling that I was fighting wind mills on my own. I fought for each redoubt, I studied and worked at the same time, then I used to have two jobs at the same time: the daytime job and the evening or weekend job. This is also how I started my activity with the Bucharest Running Club Association, in parallel with my work at the Bucharest Stock Exchange and then later at Rompetrol. It all began with a talk with Valeria van Groningen who had the vision of starting the Bucharest Marathon and mass athletics project. I understood the potential scope of this project and the idea of developing mass sports and healthy lifestyles, of raising the quality of lives and the civic spirit of people inspired me.
So, she is the person that I feel I am shoulder to shoulder with and who could support me in case of need.
Maturity changed my perception and taught me gratitude: now I understand that each employer, each recruiter, each boss I had helped me, they lent me a hand; when you accept someone in your boat you accept the risk that that person might not deliver, or maybe won’t raise up to the organization’s standards. The persons who support me the most are the people I work with, who are part of the team and work to achieve the common objectives. And, last but not least, my partners and customers – they are truly the pillars that help me build projects and programs we all believe in.
How useful are studies in a job such as public relations specialist?
The adolescence and youth education is important because it opens horizons and increase self esteem. Maturity studies, the process of continuous learning and development are those which specialize and refine. I tested several jobs and therefore several studies where there is a red thread which, however, I hadn’t truly and entirely understood until I came close to my thirties. It was then that I attended the EMBA (executive master of business administration) course as well, which gave me a more structured business vision. The labor market gave me the lesson that the university degree is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for the career evolution. The same way as I understood that family, school and education are necessary, but not sufficient for personal evolution. And someone who doesn’t understand and reshape their own identity consciously is not a person who can be really able to shape or build something lasting – projects, teams, etc. I attended several personal development courses in parallel with specialization courses. Who I am and where I am going, what is my mission in this world – these are questions that concerned me for many years and for which I have slowly-slowly found answers, after much fretting. I did post-university courses for marketing, communication, trainer, capital market participant, broker, energy and natural resources, in parallel with courses about the inter-human relations, personality ethics, character ethics, self awareness and relations with people and environment.
PR has become a job that thousands of young women dream about. What does a PR person actually do?
If you look at the job classification you can notice that the specializations and jobs begin to find names and definitions with up to 10 years after the moment they actually appeared in reality on the labor market. PR means anything between “public relations” and “corporate relations”, between the local administration clerk at his office and communication and relations on the three major axes – with the media, with the clients, with the institutions. It is true that most PR persons work in communication through media. So, as a PR person, it would be useful to have worked in the media in order to know what your interlocutor wants from you. A specialized PR is somebody who reads and write a lot and eloquently in the field of PR and in the economic field that they represent. A generalist PR is somebody who covers and understands from a larger perspective several areas of activity and can juggle easily between them.
How much creativity and how much pragmatism did you need to make it through in the corporate world?
As I said, until about 30 years old, I approached my jobs intuitively and only afterwards I started to have the image of a career, a red line thread between my jobs, my projects and the image of a future strategy. I remember that 90% of my colleagues at the EMBA were corporate. Then this idea arouse that a person is not enough unless they are corporate as well . So I turned my attention, motivation and creativity to this path which turned real in a few years. My pragmatism helped me build each step. But as a corporate person or as an employee of a big organization, with complex rules and structures, I also learned another very important lesson: being result oriented is as important as being focused on the process, in other words you have to be more of an internal communicator, a team person, an inclusive person who permanently reports and presents, both on the vertical and on the horizontal, all the stages of the project you are working on.
I know you are sensitive and emotional. In business, you have a corporate, ice attitude. Is it difficult tu build such an attitude, beyond whatg you really are?
I have a high respect and attention for delivery deadlines and for the customers. Hence, the pressure I sometimes transmit to my team in order to meet the deadlines and both the requirements and expectations of our clients. And when I say client, I actually cover all the stakeholders with major importance over the paying ones. What is seen as sensitivity and emotionalism, combined with honesty, I like to think is what is actually authentic – I have worked with this many years, to bring out of myself and to build a real “me”, honest, pragmatic, conscious, connected to myself and to other people. Emotions are my internal guidelines and my connecting bridges to other people, therefore I express them naturally, directly and openly. I love people, I love life, I love the projects I do, I love my family; I have learned that only if I line up my thoughts with my words, my deeds and my feelings I can be genuine, and have a direction which is consistent with myself and my mission, I can live plenary and have a real contribution in this world. Every time I stray away from this direction I suffer, I have failures, get blocked, have bad relationships and even poor health.
Have you had models?
Yes, I’ve had many models: from my father, who inspired my responsibility, competence, family values, my mother who taught me love and dedication (although I became aware of all these much later), then, in my career, every CEO or boss that I followed was a model for me for a certain part of my road. It is very interesting that I admired certain persons and I ended up working with those persons: Dinu Patriciu, Stefano Albarosa, Raed Arafat, Steven and Valeria van Groningen.
What does it mean to be a top woman?
I believe that my parents, genetic baggage and education helped me position myself easily in front of a group or at the leadership of a process or organization; ever since I offered to be class chief and until I began to take on more and more complex and ambitious objectives, my leadership has been built brick by brick. In my case I understood and I approached leadership only towards my maturity as a means to position myself from myself and the others, as a way of being. I believe leadership must be cultivated (as in the Anglo-Saxon) culture from the school level and I think it should be understood as a personal contribution based on integrity and responsibility. I, after many years of exercise and experience, started to transform myself into the person I imagined and I wanted to be.
Your time was thought ergonomically, throughout your career. Have you had time for yourself, your soul, your family?
Looking behind, I think I had more stages that overlapped rather than be consecutive, depending on the youth tumult and my extraordinary desire to see the world and to experiment. Education, work, entertainment, travelling – they were all priorities and important and I wanted to do them all right away; my first car, my first apartment, these were very clear targets and stated with deadlines which, for instance, made my grandfather think I was out of my mind. Then there was a crisis period that followed when I began to understand the gap between the objectives in the “to have” area and the goals in the “to be” area, a gap full of responsibilities in the “to do” area. Maturity and personal development courses started to put my thoughts and priorities in order.
Your story has wonderful parts as well: your husband and your son. How did they come into your life? Was it late, was it at the right moment?
My family – my husband and our son are my greatest accomplishment, the best gift of the Universe. The turmoil, the needs, desires, curiosities, ambitions kept me busy for many years. Then, for approximately 10 years I used to have two jobs at the same time, so I was a guest in my own home, my apartment looked like a hotel room – clean and without any smell of food. The existential crisis I entered at some point about having a family and the right partner came from the illusion that a partner and a family come by themselves when the time is right. It was only when I understood that family and a partner are also aspects I have to focus on, to give them time, resources, energy, prayers, alignment with my soul – only then the right man – I believe – my soulmate came along, only then we managed to bring an angel child into this world.
How important was your mother, with her advice?
My mother is my anchor, my unconditional support. She raised me all by herself (after my father died when I was 8 years old), she helps me and takes care of Luca, my little boy. I rebelled against her advice, I resisted her, but, in fact, I took in everything she showed me: pragmatism, responsibility, dedication, seasoned with social life, free and enterprising spirit.
Can you have friends in a corporate world?
It is difficult to have friendships based on social or corporate relationships; they actually are circumstance relationships. Once the statute changes, the relationship changes as well.
But it is easy for me to be friendly, to relate to the people around me with openness and trust. Obviously, in the NGO and entrepreneurship environment it is easier for me to exercise these approaches. In a big company the stress is very powerful, the multiple pressure forces coming from all directions and everyone must learn to maintain a balance between their professional duties and the expressions of their ego coming from mistaking the position they hold with their personal identity.
What did the meeting with Valeria and the world of sports mean to you?
I believe the meeting with Valeria opened a new cycle in my life; in 2008-2009 we started building ABRC together, the running in mass events, joining the causes for which people were running. Valeria had nobility, generosity and care for the others, all on the profile of a great champion. I think we make an optimal team, we have complementary competences and features. She is the inspiration and admiration source both for me and for thousands of people in the world of sports and everywhere.
What lessons have the encounters in your life taught you?
I could write a novel on this subject: my teachers, colleagues, friends, bosses, they all gave me lessons. But the most difficult and most dramatic lessons, but which were also a source of catharsis, of transformation and of psychical and spiritual ascension, were the ones when I was left – either by death or by breakup. Losses, failures in general, generate earthquakes which can be used as lessons and means for evolution. It is, obviously, terribly difficult to see beyond suffering and fear, when they settle in. The temptation was to find a panacea and forget (work, entertainment, any type of activity which kept me away from myself). It was late that I learned that in those moments I should try and have questions in the first person, to see what I did that drove me there, to accept my pain and to be careful to use the introspection moments for cleaning, accepting, understanding, purification.
What about your profession?
My profession was in continuous change, transformation and evolution, as my life was. Now, from the professional and personal point of view I think I am a project developer and a resource catalyst, a connector, the person who makes things happen.
Is it difficult for a woman to be both a professional and a happy mother and wife? What is the secret?
There are many studies about the women’s access to the top management area, differences between countries and activity sectors, state policy of the country you live in concerning maternity, etc. These approaches are however comparable – women – men and induce a futile competence between the sexes. I believe it is important to position ourselves as human beings first of all. It was difficult for me to learn to be first a human being and then to learn what it means to be a woman. And I mean consciously understanding, finding and assuming the mission I have in my life. And the secret to happiness begins with aligning me with myself, it goes through reconciliation and acceptance, it is built with responsibility and gratitude, and is materialized by trust and love.