Interview with the Head of Our Bucharest Office

December 24, 2023

Please introduce yourself, in what position and how long have you been part of the ICF organisation?
I have been leading ICF's team in Bucharest for almost 9 years now. This team is responsible for the relations with the Group's external partners, mainly in Europe.

What studies did you do before joining ICF?
I graduated as a communication specialist at a private university in Bucharest. What I had no idea at the time was how much this qualification would help me within ICF, where internal and external communication is an important part of my work.

What steps within ICF led to your current position?
I first worked as an Account Manager in the company as part of a small team. At ICF, these Account Managers are the ones who keep in touch with the company's existing partners and the ones who bring new partners into the company.
This position has given me a great opportunity to get an excellent understanding of the company's products and the work that an Account Manager has to do. Later on, I was involved in the recruitment and training of new Account Managers and when a separate company was launched in Bucharest for this purpose, I started to manage ICF EU East, in addition to my existing tasks.

Which skill are you most proud of and which do you think has helped you the most in your progress?
I can communicate very easily with everyone, regardless of their position in the company or what they do. I like to communicate with people, I am genuinely curious about their problems and this helps me a lot to understand what they really need.
Next, I value my persistence: once I understand what my team or a partner needs, I am able to take it through the organisation and get priorities for the solution.

What is the biggest change for you in the last few years since you started working at ICF?
When I started working at ICF, the European team was barely 1-2 people. Those were great times, often working from home from the couch, not really counting the hours. Today, ICF employs over 100 people in the various European offices, which requires a different kind of structure. It's been really exciting to go through all these changes and see new functions evolve, to see how we grew over the years.

What are the key principles that your team at ICF EU East works by?
Open communication, transparency, and a safe, fun workplace. We strive to build a place every day where there are clear expectations of why we do the things we do. But where we can do it all with flexibility and with the best environment.

Within the group, it is known that your team members are very active on internal communication platforms. What do you think is the reason for this?
We select new team members very carefully, and within that we pay a lot of attention to the communication skills a team member has. I think this, and the motivation of team members to achieve mutual success, is a big part of the reason.

According to anonymous internal surveys, team members are highly satisfied with their working conditions. How do you feel about this?
First of all, we conduct quarterly internal anonymous surveys on working conditions. We then analyse the results of these very carefully and never fail to inform our team about our plans for improvement. We then make these improvements serious. In addition, we simply strive to create an environment in which we are happy to work every day.

Have you seen a change in the way you recruit new team members in recent years? Have you noticed any new challenges?
Absolutely. Since the pandemic, many people's lives and priorities have changed, and I have to say that this has made it temporarily difficult for us to recruit the right people. We have had to rethink our entire recruitment and selection processes, and certainly the principles on which we run the team. We had some previous expectations where we realised that, in the different circumstances, we had to let go of them or replace them with different expectations. In other cases, we have found that we cannot abandon some of our principles even if they mean a problem for some of the candidates - otherwise we will not be able to work effectively. Overall, I feel that we have successfully overcome this hurdle and that we offer excellent opportunities for those who want to work in an office environment with interesting and exciting tasks.

How do you manage to keep track of your team?
In addition to the anonymous surveys mentioned above, our HR team conducts regular performance reviews. We also plan the work of the current teams on a quarterly basis. In addition to the days we spend in the office, the regular team building sessions give us plenty of opportunity to talk to each other. We genuinely want to hear everyone's views and believe that only open communication leads to successful collaboration.

Looking ahead to 2024, what do you see as the biggest challenge for the team?
I see the core team of ICF EU East as very strong and proven over several years. By building on this core team to support the group's new products, I feel we will be able to grow even further. While expanding, I see preserving our values as our biggest challenge for next year.

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