In her more than 20 years of experience focused on operational and strategic roles, both in Romania and abroad, Gratiela Popescu has always relied on achieving a balance between personal and professional life because, she says, the moments spent in the family are essential for a manager to build a successful career.
Now, Gratiela wants to contribute to the formation of a new generation of young leaders and join the Sfera Business team with confidence and enthusiasm. Leadership, Leadership Psychology, Managing through different cultures and Finance for non-finance are the seminars during which Gratiela Popescu will provide the participants with the valuable know-how, which she will complete with many clear important professional examples and lessons.
With GRATIELA POPESCU, in our sphere of discussions:
- In more than 20 years of activity you have held important management positions both in the country and abroad. What are the most significant stages of your professional background?
I would mention some critical moments, all related to significant changes of job, which later proved to be great opportunities:
The first moment was when I accepted a CFO position from a commercial role, where I had the opportunity to devote myself at the same time with the company.
The second moment was when I accepted a regional role, my responsibilities were extended over 20+ countries. The experience was extraordinary, I got to have the responsibility of a PnL of 2bn USD. In my capacity as Financial Director I have been involved in crisis management (Ukraine, Greece), expansion and restructuring projects, in extremely mature countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and in countries that are just beginning to develop – CIS.
The last critical decision is the current, when I accepted again a fundamental change of career, leaving the financial and going to the area of general management. Another extraordinary experience.
In all these moments, I think some elements were very important:
1. A leader who will support me, believe in me and offer me these opportunities;
2. The courage to embrace the fundamental change of the job;
3. Family support.
2. Current leadership psychology – what are the pillars on which they are based and what are the current threats?
I discover that it is important for a leader to be authentic, not to follow a pattern, but surely he must understand why he would have followers. If you fail to define your brand as a leader, the leadership attributes for which someone will remember you over 20-30 years, then you have to think.
The threats come from the sphere of political games, where some authentic, very valuable leaders do not fit in certain corporate cultures and then separation occurs. I think it’s a shame for organizations, but I think it’s an opportunity for individuals to look for other opportunities that will fit much better.
What was the biggest challenge you felt as a leader in different cultural environments? What did you learn from this experience?
Conducting the activity in different cultural environments can lead to huge energy consumption if you cannot manage the situation correctly! You must learn to listen much better, not to judge at first sight, to be open to different interpretations, to make efforts to understand the context from which the discussion partner comes and to adapt continuously. You better understand a culture and its history when you live in that country. It’s a unique experience.
You have been involved in projects in the UK and the Czech Republic where you have supported business women at the beginning of their road. What was the most important lesson you gave during the mentoring sessions?
It may sound a little selfish, but it seems very important to me for a woman to define from the beginning what are the things that make her happy in the personal / professional balance, to choose 3 priorities and to follow them with perseverance. It’s easy to fall into the trap of cultural preconceptions, but the key to success is to win the balance that makes you happy.
The balance between personal and professional life is not easy to reach. How did you manage to achieve it and how much did it help you achieve your professional goals?
You have to test over time what works and what doesn’t work … For me, family support and the clear delimitation of personal and professional life were important. The moments spent in the family are of quality, and this leads to a balanced personal life.
What is your biggest professional achievement so far?
It is hard for me to talk about a certain achievement, there are many to mention, but I think the greatest achievement is even my personal and professional development of which I am very proud.
What hides behind the leader Gratiela Popescu?
Hm … I don’t think anything is hidden. I am a “what you see is what you get” kind of person … I am a positive person, cheerful, balanced, loyal, a person who likes to openly discuss difficult issues.
Why did you choose to join the Sfera Business team?
Personally, I had the opportunity to develop myself quite a lot during my career and I feel the need to help other young leaders not to make the mistakes I made … at least to test others. I am very pleased to see how passionately Catalin carries out his activity, we have known each other for a long time and I know how important it is for him to put his soul into what he does and maintain a very high standard. This combination resonates with me.
Welcome to the Sfera Business team, Gratiela Popescu!