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7 Questions on Leadership with Bogdan Mazararu

Name: Bogdan Mazararu

Title: CGI Studio Manager

Organisation: Amazon

Seasoned Post Production and CGI Studio Manager with over a decade of experience, contributing to 100+ Amazon devices and accessory launches. Adept at leading high-performing teams, pioneering 3D/CGI innovations, and optimizing process efficiency. Skilled in collaborative communication, team management, relationship building, continuous learning, and driving improvements across organizations. Passionate about staying ahead of industry trends and embracing new technologies, such as AI.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Bogdan's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The most challenging aspect of leadership, in my experience, is balancing driving results while nurturing the team and managing change while fostering a positive culture. It requires a high degree of emotional intelligence, a willingness to continually learn and adapt, and a genuine care for the well-being and success of the team.

In my experience, managing the delicate equilibrium between driving results and cultivating a nurturing environment for my team is one of the biggest challenges. As a leader, it's critical to ensure that the organization's objectives are met, but achieving this shouldn't come at the expense of creating a positive, inclusive, and growth-oriented work culture. This is a dynamic balance that demands ongoing attention and fine-tuning.

In every team, there are a myriad of individual motivations, strengths, developmental areas, and personal objectives. Understanding these nuances and leveraging them towards the shared goals of the team is a key aspect of successful leadership, but it can also be quite challenging. It requires leaders to take the time to really get to know their team members, and to provide personalized guidance, support, and feedback.

This personalized approach fosters an environment where team members feel valued, heard, and motivated, which in turn drives engagement and productivity. Furthermore, leading in today's business landscape means grappling with an increasingly complex and rapidly changing environment. The advent of digital transformation, agile work practices, and the evolution of remote work, among other changes, have dramatically altered how teams function and how work gets done.

Helping a team navigate these changes, stay adaptable, and remain resilient under pressure can be quite a challenge. Leaders today need to not only manage the execution of tasks, but also guide their teams through periods of uncertainty and change. They need to create an atmosphere of psychological safety, to ensure team members feel comfortable taking risks, voicing their ideas, and admitting mistakes and also have the skills and mindset needed to adapt.

The challenge lies in fostering such an environment while still maintaining high performance standards. It's about creating a culture where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities, and where open and constructive feedback is the norm. Despite all these challenges, I find leadership to be an immensely rewarding role. The opportunity to positively influence the work environment, to help individuals grow and succeed, and to drive meaningful results, makes all the challenges worthwhile.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

My journey to leadership was both intentional and organic, a combination of my personal aspirations, a lifelong commitment to learning, and a sequence of opportunities that emerged over the course of my career.

I started my professional journey in a junior role, right after graduating from university. I was fascinated by the dynamics of the corporate world, and I was particularly intrigued by the leaders who steered the ship—those who had the vision and acumen to guide teams and companies toward success. My initial years were focused on honing my technical skills, understanding industry nuances, and building relationships.

I recognized early on that to become an effective leader, I needed to be proficient in my area of work and understand the larger organizational context. So, I took every opportunity to learn, taking on challenging projects and actively seeking feedback to grow and improve. As I grew more competent in my role, I also sought opportunities to mentor new joiners, lead small project teams, and represent my team in cross-functional initiatives. These experiences gave me a taste of leadership and reinforced my desire to move into a formal leadership role. After a few years, I was presented with the opportunity to step into a management position.

While the transition was challenging, the experience and insights I had gathered in my previous roles were invaluable. I relied heavily on my deep understanding of our work, my strong relationships across the organization, and my ability to inspire and motivate my team. Over time, I continued to advance in my leadership roles, each time taking on more responsibility and dealing with ever increasing complexities.

I also invested in my own development, participating in leadership training programs and seeking mentorship from more experienced leaders. Becoming a leader has been a journey of continuous learning and adaptation. I believe that my story underscores the importance of maintaining a growth mindset, seeking opportunities to learn and lead, and building strong relationships. These foundational elements have been crucial to my evolution as a leader and continue to guide me in my current leadership role.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

As a leader, husband, and father working from home, my daily routine is a delicate balance between professional responsibilities and family life. Having small children and managing my ADHD adds another layer of complexity, but over time, I've developed a routine that caters to all these facets of my life.

I wake up early, typically around 6:00 AM. This quiet time allows me to focus on setting the tone for my day. As someone with ADHD, I've found that morning meditation for about 20 minutes helps me manage my symptoms and enhances my focus throughout the day. Following meditation, I exercise for about 15-30 minutes.

This physical activity helps manage my ADHD symptoms and is a critical part of maintaining my overall well-being. Once the children are awake, I help my partner with their morning routines. Breakfast time is a family affair; this allows us to start our day together, strengthening our bond and communication.

My workday begins around 9:00 AM when the children start their own activities. I've set up a dedicated workspace at home to create a boundary between my professional and personal life. This space signals to my mind (and to the kids) that it's work time. To manage my ADHD and maintain productivity, I use tools like time-blocking, where I dedicate specific chunks of time to different tasks and concentration music.

This allows me to fully focus on one task at a time, reduces distractions, and provides structure to my day. The first part of the day is typically spent on high-focus tasks, which are easier to tackle when my energy levels are high. Lunch is around 1 PM, which is also when I take a short break to spend time with the family.

These breaks are essential, giving me a chance to recharge and helping maintain a strong family connection even amidst a busy work schedule. Post-lunch, I handle meetings and more collaborative aspects of my work. Keeping a shared online calendar helps me communicate my availability to my team and also lets my family know when I'll be occupied. I strive to finish my work by 6 PM, though flexibility is necessary given the demands of leadership roles and the unpredictability of life with small children.

After work, it's family time – playing with the kids, helping them with homework, and enjoying dinner together. This routine isn't set in stone; rather, it's a guideline that helps me balance my professional and personal life, all while managing my ADHD. It's a juggling act, but the key lies in being adaptable, patient, and maintaining a positive outlook.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

A recent leadership lesson that I've been reminded of, particularly in the context of the current global environment, is the importance of resilience and adaptability in the face of uncertainty and change.

In recent times, with the increasing shift towards remote work, unexpected market changes, and the overall volatility brought on by the global pandemic, I've seen firsthand how crucial it is for a leader to not just be resilient personally, but also foster resilience within their teams. Leading through uncertainty means making tough decisions with limited information, quickly adapting to new circumstances, and continually finding new ways to motivate and engage your team.

This experience has underscored the fact that resilience isn't a static trait but a muscle that needs to be exercised and strengthened continuously. Moreover, I’ve also learned the value of showing vulnerability as a leader. I've realized that it's okay to not have all the answers. It's okay to share when you're unsure or when you're feeling the pressure. In fact, doing so can foster deeper connections with your team, create a culture of trust and authenticity, and encourage others to share their experiences and challenges.

Both these lessons – the importance of resilience and vulnerability in leadership – have been crucial in navigating the challenges of recent times. They've reminded me that being a leader isn't just about driving results, but also about connecting with your team on a human level, guiding them through change, and growing and learning together.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

One book that has profoundly influenced my leadership style is "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" by Simon Sinek. Sinek's central concept - the idea that successful individuals and organizations are those that are clear about their purpose (their 'why'), can communicate that purpose to others, and make decisions that are consistent with this purpose - was a game-changer for me.

Before I encountered this book, I found myself focusing heavily on the 'what' and the 'how' of my leadership style and actions. What should my team be doing? How should they be doing it? While these are important questions, reading Sinek's book made me realize that I had been overlooking the most vital question of all: Why? "Start With Why" led me to reevaluate my approach to leadership.

I started articulating my own 'why' more clearly, not just to myself but also to my team. I made it a point to communicate not just what needs to be done, and how, but also why we're doing it - the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires us to do what we do. This simple shift had a remarkable impact on my team's engagement and performance. When they understood why their work mattered, they were more motivated, took greater ownership, and were better able to innovate and solve problems.

The book also encouraged me to foster an environment where team members feel inspired to find and express their own 'why.' I've seen firsthand how this increases job satisfaction, fosters a stronger sense of commitment, and leads to higher quality work. In essence, "Start With Why" fundamentally altered my understanding of effective leadership.

It helped me see that leading is not just about assigning tasks or coordinating efforts, but about inspiring others and giving their work purpose. It's a lesson I carry with me in every leadership decision I make.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

If I could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, it would be this: Embrace the power of active listening, even when it might be challenging due to personal circumstances like ADHD. As someone living with ADHD, I understand how difficult active listening can be. Our minds often move at a rapid pace, juggling thoughts and ideas, which can make it challenging to slow down and fully focus on the person speaking to us.

We might find ourselves interrupting others, finishing their sentences, or getting distracted mid-conversation. However, through personal experience, I have found that active listening is a critical leadership skill, and one that can be mastered with practice and patience, even with ADHD. Active listening involves more than just hearing the words spoken to us. It requires a deep engagement with the speaker, understanding not only their words but also their emotions, intent, and underlying message.

This kind of deep listening requires us to pause our own mental chatter and truly focus on the speaker. With ADHD, this might mean developing and utilizing strategies to manage potential distractions and maintain focus. This could include taking notes during conversations, repeating or summarizing the speaker's points to ensure understanding, or practicing mindfulness techniques to stay present.

Despite the challenges, the benefits of active listening are substantial. It builds trust, fosters better understanding, and creates a culture of respect and open communication. It allows us to understand our team's strengths, concerns, and motivations better, leading to more effective leadership.

So, to every young leader, especially those managing conditions like ADHD, I say: invest time and effort in honing your active listening skills. It might not always be easy, but the rewards — in terms of personal growth, improved relationships, and leadership effectiveness — are well worth it.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

One of the most significant experiences that stands out in my leadership journey involves learning the delicate art of letting go. Several years into my role as a leader, I found myself leading a project with high stakes and tight deadlines. I had a clear vision of how I wanted things to proceed, and I was confident in my strategies.

The team assigned to the project was skilled and experienced, but I found myself micromanaging their every step out of my desire to achieve the best possible outcome. This approach, however, led to tension within the team. Despite their expertise and experience, team members felt that their ideas and contributions were not valued. Morale began to drop, and the overall progress of the project was slower than anticipated.

Recognizing this issue, I scheduled a team meeting to discuss the problem openly. I was met with honest feedback about my leadership style. While it was difficult to hear, it was also a wake-up call. I realized I had been stifling creativity and discouraging my team rather than empowering them. This realization led me to make a concerted effort to relinquish control and trust my team's abilities. I started to provide guidance and set expectations but allowed them to decide how to meet those expectations.

This approach required faith in my team's skills and experience, as well as the ability to accept that there might be multiple ways to reach the same goal. To my delight, the team's performance began to improve rapidly once they were given the autonomy they needed. They approached their tasks with renewed energy and creativity, leading to solutions and ideas that I hadn't considered.

We not only met our project deadline but exceeded our project goals, all while fostering a more positive and collaborative team environment. This experience served as a potent reminder of the dangers of micromanagement and the power of entrusting your team with autonomy.

It underscored the importance of giving your team the freedom to find their path, even while providing them with the support and direction they need. It's a lesson in trust and acceptance that has significantly shaped my leadership style and approach.

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