I know your schedule is full, thank you for taking the time for this interview. This year you took over a role desired by many, People Director at HEINEKEN Romania. Why did you choose HEINEKEN?

I think a more difficult question would be the other way around because for me it was quite simple. I still remember the first call I got to gauge my interest. I was in a good place with my career, so they said, I am happy for you, but this is the one you have been waiting for! They were right. The brand, the business model, the level of autonomy, the chance to drive success across the entire value chain - it was all too magnetic for me. And that was all before I met the people. The sheer excellence of HEINEKEN people is the company’s true competitive advantage, and I feel together we can really amplify the value we create in our entire ecosystem.

What do you enjoy about working at HEINEKEN and what are your biggest challenges?

Let me start with the sense of joy. First and foremost, I get that from my team. The insights they teach me, the laughs we share, the passion and effort they put into our work; the sense of belonging in this team is simply amazing. I get my energy from having people around me and working with others towards ambitious goals. HEINEKEN provides ample opportunity for that. There is a level of transparency and authenticity that is quite unparalleled, and that creates the perfect environment for people to come together and really solve problems.

In terms of challenges, I would say most of the things that keep me up at night are also the things that give me energy in the morning. Biggest one would be maintaining the growth path HEINEKEN is on, even through an increasingly difficult business and labour context. Luckily, I found a solid organization, with motivated and engaged people, which is unquestionably due to the Management Team and my predecessor.

How would you describe the HEINEKEN culture? What makes HEINEKEN different?

Ever since day one, I acknowledged that I had not met another organization where people use such terms as psychological safety, autonomy of decisions, or accountability so much, so naturally, and so freely. These are key cultural elements for delivering in such a fierce business environment, and at HEINEKEN, they can be summed up in one word: TOGETHER.

I also bow to the natural generosity of my colleagues. Starting with my team, who gave me all their time to help me integrate as quickly as possible, all the way to the managers, whose obvious interest is developing their teams. I am happy to see the premium brand we produce translates into the premium people we have. Or is it the other way around?

Can you take us back to your early life and how did you find the path to a career in HR?

HR was a surprise. I often say I stumbled into HR, because in the beginning of my working life, I had no idea what it was. I had not studied it, and I had not really encountered an HR person in real life, so I was not even considering something I was unaware existed.

And then, about 13 years ago, I applied for a Sales role with an FMCG company. I went through all the interviews and the tests, and was actually offered the role. And just I was accepting it, the manager said , You know, we probably have something else you might be good at, but you’re probably not interested, because it’s in Poland. I basically said I will do it without even knowing what the job was (I assumed it had to do with Sales, but did not really ask). Mostly because at that point in my life I was really craving an international experience. Long story short, I started my HR career in Employee Service Delivery and Compensation & Benefits, which worked out great because they played into my analytical side. From there, I just kept finding new ways to develop myself, and the organization, through a function that has a lot of untapped value to give.

It is said that Beverages is one of the most challenging sectors from the HR perspective. Would you agree?

I think this is my fourth sector as an HR person, fifth overall. This day and age, I do not know any industry that is not challenging for HR. What I believe works “in our favour” is the speed and complexity of the market, consumer behaviour, legislation, and sustainability developments. They all challenge HR to really flex our creative muscle, and ensure we are building a winning organization. But then again, this is exactly what I signed up for.

You have a successful, international career, but you are also a dedicated father & husband. How do you manage your professional and your personal life?

Thank you! With all the professional milestones I’ve hit, my family is still my biggest accomplishment. I often share that as a kid I was changing my idea of a dream job quite often, but I’ve always known I wanted to be a father.

I guess I was lucky to work for organizations that supported me in my search for balance, and that helped me be more engaged and deliver more heartily at my job. HEINEKEN is one for the books from this perspective. With clear priorities and accountability, and even clearer rules of engagement with one another, it not only allows, but promotes people’s wellbeing. For me and my family, this is extremely important, and it works the other way as well. When the pressure is on at work, I get the support I need to strap in and be there for the organization.

Do you have any secret advice?

Would not necessarily call it advice, but lessons I’ve learned along to way. One would be that I only assume two things about the person in front of me: positive intent, and that they are smarter than me in (at least) some things. It is hard not to come out of any conversation richer than before. And the second one is a personal KPI of mine: number of smiles in meetings. I don’t actually count them, but I try to make sure they are there, even through tough times. Smiles are an extremely powerful retention tool, and a brilliant catalyst for problem solving.

I’ve heard you are passionate about chess and football. Do you still have time for your hobbies?

That is a tough question, because the answer is still not what I would like it to be. Although I am getting better at carving some time for myself as well. Adapting to the new reality is key. With three kids on my back, I rarely have time for a standard chess game, but I’ve come to love speed chess games, where I would play anything between 2-to-10-minute games. I also try to join a friendly football game every couple of weeks, usually after the children’s bedtime.

Which are your core values?

Oh, I actually know the answer to this one ! About five and a half years ago, when my wife was pregnant with our eldest daughter, we moved into a bigger place. And as the landlord gave us the keys and left us in the empty apartment, we took a minute to cherish the way our lives were changing. And we did something that will always stay with me. We decided then and there what our core values were, so that as parents, we would live by them, and try and instill them in our children. So we took a bit of chalk and scribbled these four words on the kitchen walls: TRUST, COURAGE, KINDNESS, FUN.

I won’t go into details on any of them, only say I found them in plenty supply here at HEINEKEN. The company’s mission of brewing the joy of true togetherness strings all of them together perfectly.

What advice would you give to youngsters, in the beginning of their career?

Be kind. Be brave. Be patient.

Why do organisations need HR Business Partners?

One of the most recruited roles this year in Romania were HR Business Partners. They have been actively sought, regardless the domain or level of seniority.

But how do we recruit the right candidate and which are the skills we should look for?

Just as asking the right question will most often lead us towards the answer, my experience shows that the failure or success of a recruitment process relies, in most cases, on determining the right candidate’s profile. One of the first steps towards this is to determine what function the position we are aiming to fill has in the context of a certain organization. Hence, we initiated a qualitative research project to better outline the profile and function an HR Business Partner should have within an organization. The study was performed using a sample of 37 participants - approx. 60% of which were HR Directors or Managers and 40% HR Business Partners in multinational companies.

Following this research, the following skills stood out:

One other aspect the study evaluated whether there were differences in skills between industries:

When asked “Do organizations need HR Business Partners?” 100% of the study’s participants responded “Yes”. Roughly 70% added that in smaller organizations the function of HR Business Partners is performed by the HR Manager.

In conclusion:

HR departments see the role of HR Business Partners as performing a strategic role, one that works to find HR solutions that helps organizations grow and achieve business goals.

Floriana Enescu, Partner

Friisberg & Partners International opens a new office in Romania

Since 2016, Friisberg & Partners International has been represented by Qualia Executive Search in Romania, a well-known executive search company on the local market.

After 6 years, Floriana Enescu, the Managing Director of Qualia Executive Search, has formed a new company, Friisberg & Partners International, Romania, and to end her collaboration with Qualia Executive Search. She said,

“I am grateful for all the experiences I had at Qualia Executive Search in the last 17 years. It meant a lot for my personal and professional growth, and for that I deeply thank my clients and my colleagues, especially to my colleague & co-founder, Ionut Balintoni, from whom I learned so many things that brought me to what I am today.

"Sometimes, after so many years, it is better for friends & partners to follow different paths. I am sure that Ionut will lead Qualia Executive Search to continue to offer the best services to its clients and partners, in the most ethical way.

"I started this new journey with a lot of enthusiasm and I thank my Friisberg & Partners colleagues for all their support. The world around us is changing and it embodies our deep dedication to client success and relationships, wherever our clients do business. Friisberg has a determination to never stop leading the way in innovation and thought leadership, so recognising that we were already so well aligned philosophically with Friisberg, we are genuinely delighted to now be Friisberg Romania.”

Zoltan Petho, Chair of Friisberg & Partners International, welcomed the opening of the new office. “Despite a global pandemic and economic crisis, Friisberg remains focused on its strategy to expand and innovate to connect clients to talent, internationally. We have made it our purpose to grow with our clients, as individuals and as a team, and Romania further strengthens our already significant presence in Central & Eastern Europe.”

Floriana Enescu is a psychologist with 20 years’ experience in recruiting and Executive Search.

Over the last 17 years, Floriana has coordinated searches for clients such as: Heineken, Beiersdorf, Allianz Partners, Phillip Morris, Danone, BNP Paribas Real Estate, Lagardere Group, Carrefour, Ikea, CB Richard Ellis, Hipp International, Coldwell Banker, Marks & Spancer, PayU, Signal Iduna, Tractebel, Siemens, Cushman & Wakefield, Vastint, Bionorica, Syngenta, Interbrands Orbico, Pinebridge, and Delamode.

We spoke with Floriana, from our office in Romania, about her plans for the holidays.

Christmas holidays have always been a reason for joy, for children or adults, even if during Communist times the religious meaning of it was not significant.

Communists believed there is no God, therefore the Son of God did not exist and was not born. But they could not erase completely Christmas Holidays and the joy they brought, so they tried to erase the religious meaning of it.

Therefore, they renamed “Old Father Christmas” and he became “Old Man Frost”, St. Nicholas became “Old Man Nicholas” (most of us still refer to him as this).

For us, Christmas Holidays start at the evening of December 5th, when the tradition says that good children will receive small gifts from St. Nicholas in their boots (some good adults get gifts too), but only if they have been good, otherwise they will get a stick instead!

In Romania we have many traditions that we practise in the hope of wealth, prosperity and luck with their origins going back to medieval times.

My personal favourite is Santa's Eve Caroling, but there is also Goat Walking, Capra, - a custom that usually lasts from Christmas to the New Year, it is the name given to a traditional Romanian dance, usually performed by a young man disguised as a goat, with a fur on his back. The goat and her companions go from house to house, dancing at everyone’s door, on New Year’s Eve;

Little Plough, Pluguşorul, is a poem which is performed by boys who visit the community with a little plough made of wood, bells and a whip in their hands and it describes the myth of the nation's creation;

Sorcova where a stick or twig decorated with artificial flowers of different colours, which children use to gently hit their parents or acquaintances in the morning of New Year, wishing them, in special verses, health and luck.

Usually at Christmas, families have lunch or dinner together, mostly eating traditional food like Piftie or Sarmale.

2021 was in many ways a good year for us, but more than anything I wish 2022 will take us back to normality. What I miss the most is the connection between people and the time we spend together.

What does it take to be a top leader?

Top management positions, mainly in multinational companies, represent a goal for 83% of the employees within the age group of 23 – 40, according to a study made by Friisberg & Partners Romania, of 150 Bucharest-based subjects.

The career path towards a top management position invariably goes through middle management ones, yet the abilities and knowledge necessary for a top management role can be different.

Which are the differences between a middle management position and a top management one?

Following a study on a focus group of 52 middle and top managers, as well as from our own experience in the market, we came to the following conclusions:

In the end it is a personal decision, one makes in his/her career path.

Aiming to become a top manager means more than education, experience and data accumulation. It means even more than long work hours and sacrifices made. Becoming a top manager also means a higher degree of decision making in regards to putting to work one’s business vision.

Our study reveals not only the aspirations and goals of professionals in the market, but also a deeper understanding of what it takes to be a top manager.

Although native abilities are important, in order to successfully walk in the shoes of a top manager, one needs years of experience, a profound market understanding and, most of all, a business vision.

Floriana Enescu
Partner, Romania



Interview with Cristina Mancas, VP HR SEE at Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric is leading the Digital Transformation of Energy Management and Automation in Homes, Buildings, Data Centres, Infrastructure, and Industries. With global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is the undisputable leader in Power Management – Medium Voltage, Low Voltage and Secure Power, and in Automation Systems.

How did you adapt to Covid pandemic and what challenges did you face during this year?

A year ago, when the pandemic started, we were lucky that we needed only one meeting to decide that we would work from home.  However, over the past 12 months, we faced challenges we never thought we would. By far the strangest feeling for an HR professional is being away from colleagues at work, but since we all agreed that the work from home solution was the best, we all started to get used to seeing each other via our online meeting platforms.

The toughest challenges we have had to face so far are probably recruiting and onboarding due to the limitations we now have in demonstrating the Schneider Electric Romania organizational culture to the new recruits. We have a vibrant organization of dedicated professionals, and meeting with them and understanding the feeling of camaraderie we all share is especially important for any new employee. Of course we tried to replicate most of that online and we made sure new employees have access to as many relevant colleagues as possible.

We are now allowing some of the people to return to the office under strict conditions, and we can see they missed each other. On a positive note, online communication has been more intense than ever. Many managers now have a chance to reach out to their entire teams even more frequently than in the past. It is easy to set up a quick online meeting, involving many employees - and this is much easier than in real life! So managers have taken the opportunity to talk to their people directly about how the pandemic has affected both their professional and private life.

What are the projects you implemented during this time?

Schneider launched a big global project last year in April, 'Open Talent Market'. There were many discussions at HR level at the time about whether we should launch it, being in the middle of a pandemic and worrying people would not have time necessary to dedicate to this type of program. However, there were many employees who said they wanted to join the platform as soon as it was launched.

Open Talent Market is a platform that allows all employees to enter and connect with mentors from across the Schneider world, if they want to develop their skills. They can connect or apply to local or global projects, but also apply for full-time roles. At South East Europe level, the area for which I am responsible, Romania is leading with an adoption of 78% in less than a year, according to last reports.

'Career Week' is another project that was recently  launched in June. In this learning week we offered content, both locally and globally, on five main directions: technical career, functional career, cross-country career, a career that involves interaction with clients and a career in

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