I keep saying that I’m a lucky person. All wonderful things in my life found me, and not the other way around. On the other hand, I haven’t been just sitting around.
I was born into a family of simple people in a city on the Danube, the youngest of four children.
My parents taught me to be an honest person and to keep my word. To this day, integrity is first on my guiding list of values.
They taught me common sense and to be respectful of others, because that’s how I respect myself. Hello, please and thank you are always a good start.
In my senior year at high-school, I was preparing to become an electrician at the City Shipyard. The modest condition of my family did not allow me to go to college like the vast majority of my colleagues. But it wasn’t meant to be. Starting 1990, the same year I finished high school, the graduates were no longer assigned a job by the authorities, as it used to happen during the communist era.
And here I was – suddenly – without a compass, at the beginning of my professional life.
I consider this to be my first strike of good luck. Half of year after graduating from high-school, following a job contest, I became secretary at a secondary school.
Celebrated my 19th birthday at the office, surrounded by beautiful people I didn’t know But whom I was beginning to discover.
Two years later, I found myself in the middle of a restructuring process and then part of a transfer. And that’s how started my assignment as administrator of a new school. Let’s call it luck.
I was only 21 when experienced my first management position. And what an experience! I was in charge of the school maintenance team, some of them being older people than my mother.
I discovered the power of “please”, discovered what you can accomplish by being fair and honest, became aware of the education received from my parents and its importance.
To this day, I am proud of my work with that team and of the results we obtained together.
Even now I can remember the pride felt when the music teacher, the man who used to be my secondary school class master, took me by the shoulders and, with satisfaction in his voice, called me “Our colleague…”
At one point, the school received a computer in its inventory. Let’s not forget: these were the 90’s. None of the teachers wanted to use it. They were afraid they might damage it and then have to pay for it out of their own pocket. And it wasn’t cheap!
What a strike of good luck!
That’s how I first got to touch a computer and started to discover it … key by key.
I learned a lot during my years as a secretary and as a school administrator. But at some point, I felt that there was nothing more I could learn there, that I was no longer evolving. And decided to leave my secure job with the public sector for a risky job in the private sector.
What a journey!
A few years later I was a Sales Manager for one of the largest IT distributors in the city. I was growing. Not only did I know how to use a PC, but had sold hundreds of computers and components, had made thousands of quotations and earned plenty of auctions. I was working with a team o young people and learning from IT professionals.
To this day, the first optical fiber network in the county is a point of reference. The Powerplant in Chiscani. I don’t know if it’s still there ☹
One day, one of our suppliers made me an offer to move to Bucharest.
Another lucky strike!
At 27, I left my job as a Manager and moved to Bucharest to start all over again as an warranty department assistant.
My boss told me I would not make it in Bucharest. “It’s a jungle out there and you have a big mouth, they will eat you for breakfast.”
In a way he was right. In three months, I was jobless. Because I had a big mouth. Still am. It’s just that I became wise, learned to choose my words and the right timing to say what I truly believe and to temper my impulsiveness. Back then I felt that had to prove myself, that I had to be right all the time. Today I’ve learned to keep silent, to listen, to analyze, and only then to talk. And I don’t feel that I have something to prove anymore.
But “they” did not eat me for breakfast. I continued to learn and grow, made mistakes, I was down, pulled myself up and I pushed forward.
At the age of 30, my boss at the time told me that I cannot expect a bigger salary because I did not have a higher education. What luck!
This pushed me and determined me to enroll in college. Next: 5 years without leave or vacations, with financial limitations, learning each night after 10 hours of work.
I decided that, because I was going to a private college with limited frequency, then my graduation diploma should at least make a statement. As such, at 35, graduated from the Faculty of Finance – Accounting and I get a bachelor’s degree with a grade close to maximum.
What does the diploma and the grade say? That I’m an ambitious person who achieves her goals. That when I put something in my head, no effort is too much.
I have never worked a day in finance or as an accountant. When graduated, I was a Sales Manager with a small company for several years.
So, what did college teach me?
It taught me how to search for information. It taught me how to dose my efforts and focus on what’s important. It taught me to structure my thoughts, my ideas and my actions. It taught me to analyze and organize the information in such a manner that I could easier understand it and assimilate it. It taught me to set ambitious but realistic targets. It taught me to keep track of my objectives and be aware of the steps I take in order to achieve them. And, not lastly, it taught me that I can achieve what I want, when I want.
The economic crisis in 2009 found me as a manager in the largest IT distribution company in Romania. I was supervising a team of over 20 people and managing a portfolio of clients of over 2000 companies and a turnover of several tens of millions of Euro. I was professionally growing, learning and training sales professionals. I was in a top performing environment, working in a fast-paced rhythm and in a growing industry. I was on a roll.
And suddenly, everything went downhill. For the first time, I had to let people go on criteria other than performance. A tough experience. It was, perhaps, the hardest thing I did as a manager.
I learned the hard way that crisis situations change people. That nothing from the outside is certain. That the safest thing you can have is what you’re capable of. Whether it’s skills or strength of character. That when in extreme situations, there are few people you can count on. I have learned that moral support is the most important thing you can receive from others and that it is priceless.
But the journey continued.
At almost 40 I was a General Manager in a multinational company.
For the first 6 months I was haunted by the thought that I had somehow tricked those who hired me and that I would not be able to wear such a big hat. I was afraid that I would fail, would disappoint the people who trusted me and that I would be afraid to look them in the eye. Or to look at myself in the mirror.
Now I know this is called the imposter syndrome. And I know how to work with it.
Eight crazy, beautiful years followed. Doubled the business in just 4 years. Grew the team. Developed new lines of business and led the company from 8th place to 2nd place in the top of the profile companies. I have trained and developed professionals whom I am proud of.
I enjoyed every project, every success, every work relationship and suffered for every mistake or failure. I literally burned.
I closed this chapter at exactly the right time. Good luck, I’d say.
This gave me the chance to start on a new path, to redefine myself.
And because, like previously mentioned, I learned in college how to structure my thoughts, ideas and actions, that’s exactly what I did.
I searched within myself and in my story for the things that gave me the greatest joy during my 30 years of professional experience, of which 20 years of management.
And I discovered that joy and fulfillment always came from people. Discovered that my contribution to the growth and development of successful professionals made me feel a valuable person myself.
That’s how I decided to go this route.
Therefore, today I am a coach and a trainer of authentic leaders. I feel extremely lucky to have the chance to pass on my accumulated knowledge and at the same time continue to learn, to develop myself and those I work with, and thus feel fulfilled.