Interview with Cătălina Călinescu, HR & Payroll Director, for the project, by

30 March 2022

At the invitation of, our colleague, Catalina Calinescu, HR & Payroll Director, discussed in an inspiring interview for the project, about her professional journey, what it takes to build a successful career, and offered some tips and recommendations about the work-life, that she gathered in more than 15 years of experience.

If you were to put yourself in the shoes of a young graduate and apply now for a job with the company you work for today, what would you want to emphasize in a face-to-face discussion with the recruiter? What would impress you with a candidate in a job interview?

For me, a person's attitude matters a lot, especially in the early stages of a career, when the employer is very interested in the young candidate’s potential rather than in their knowledge and skills. With the right attitude, anyone can be easily guided in the right direction.

I, for one, am particularly impressed by a candidate's interest in their own professional development and their social involvement, their sense of responsibility for everything around them. At the same time, I think that people who are curious and ask questions earn extra points. I am surrounded by such people on my team and I can confirm that they are our strongest asset.

The best thing young candidates can do for themselves at the beginning of their journey is to remain curious, develop their internal “library” and expose themselves to different environments and cultures.

If you had to choose between several graduates applying for a job, would you go for someone with high grades and no experience or for someone with experience, regardless of their academic performance? And why would you choose that way?

If I had a choice between several graduates, I would choose someone with a certain level of maturity, even if at an early stage.

What do you consider to be the main disadvantages of economics/law graduates nowadays and what advice or recommendations would you have for overcoming them?

I believe that one downside is the lack of a systematic approach to learning; certain knowledge may remain at a superficial level, and there is a lack of deep thinking, which makes the connection between different notions or concepts, that no longer appear, hence the failure to reach an effective resolution. Somehow, this behaviour is later found in their professional life as well.

This approach will help them, regardless of the environment and industry in which they work, to interact well with people from all over the world, with different backgrounds, cultures and opinions, and thus be able to move beyond that lack of depth.

What things do you know now that you think would have helped you if you had learned them when you were just entering the profession?

I can say that I was lucky enough to have the right people around me, from whom I was able to learn the secrets of the profession that I later came to pursue. Without the guidance, even if I had known those secrets, it would have been very difficult for me to get a good grasp of them. That helped me a lot to realize how valuable teamwork is and how many benefits it can bring you.

It gives you a benchmark, the opportunity to debate, confirm and develop professionally. It is, if you will, the difference between a passive approach, where you wait for certain things to be solved, and an active approach, where you debate, confirm, act, and take responsibility, including within a group as teamwork implies.

Can you remember that moment at the beginning of your career when you were assigned a new task that you had never done before? How did you deal with that?

Yes, I remember when I was given new assignments, as each assignment was an opportunity to learn new things. This attitude has helped me, in my professional career, to rise to the level of expectations of all those who have helped me to build the confidence that I can achieve anything.

If you were to name a hobby whose constant practice helps in consulting, what would it be? What prepares you best for being a consultant?

Reading, definitely, because it keeps your mind alert and busy. I take this opportunity to recommend the book “The Element”, written by Sir Ken Robinson, which opened my mind to something very important: when you do what you love, you stop working, you have the privilege of doing what you love. Also, any sports activity will help you develop your inner strength.

If you were to define the most important skill that has helped you get through the hardships of your career, what would it be?

Resilience. I believe that I am responding efficiently and in a balanced way to stressors and I have the ability to turn a negative factor into an opportunity while maintaining my health and energy.

Where do you draw the line when it comes to the character of the people you work with?

For me, trust is one of the most important factors. I would say that I draw the line when things are not taken seriously, and are treated with superficiality and lack of engagement.

If you are a student or a recent graduate looking to jump-start your career, it’s good to remember that success comes from curiosity. We hope that you have enjoyed this interview.