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7 Questions on Leadership with Catalin Andrei

Name: Catalin Andrei

Title: Master Principal Cloud Architect

Oranisation: Oracle Noth America Cloud Engineering

Catalin Andrei is a master principal cloud architect in the North America Cloud Engineering Network Specialists team, where he works with high-profile customers on a wide variety of projects ranging from networking workshops to architectural whiteboard sessions and troubleshooting.

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

I hope Catalin'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 part of being a leader, formal or informal, is working with people. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, and always working with people is the most challenging part of the job. At the beginning of my career, I needed to work with difficult people who had a disputable character. This marked me and since then, I tried to support junior colleagues and make them better individuals.

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

Ever since I was I young boy, I remember myself surrounded by people. I easily made new friends and I was very verbal always asking questions or discussing things I read (for the desperation of my parents who had to listen to me). I was also very curious, wanting to know how things were made, from toys to radio sets (I constantly disassembled things, often breaking them in the process).

This curiosity fueled the stories that I was sharing with other kids and, looking back, those were the first signs of a leader.

In adult life, this curiosity made me constantly learn new things and share the knowledge with my colleagues.

Getting better at what you are doing, automatically attracts the junior colleagues around you and without even realizing you are a leader.

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

Currently, I am supporting the pre-sales teams with cloud networking expertise for North American customers. This translates into being productive in the afternoons and late evenings.

I am trying to keep a schedule and my alarm is set up at 7:00 AM. I am starting my day with the coffee routine (I am a home barista with formal training in coffee and latte art; I can talk for hours about coffee 😊). During coffee, I catch up with e-mails and direct messages received while I am sleeping.

I am trying to stay fit, and 3 times a week, I am going to the gym in the morning.

In the afternoon I start my interactions with my customers, and since my job is project-based, I do not have a fixed schedule or an office routine. I handle diverse tasks: from PowerPoint-driven workshops, and architectural white-board sessions, to troubleshooting customers’ connectivity issues.

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

I will quote from John Maxwell: “If you are lonely at the top, then you are doing something wrong.”

A leader needs to inspire others and share his knowledge. Bring your peers closer to your level. This will force you to gain more knowledge and keeps you engaged.

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?

“The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader” by John Maxwell

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

Put people first, be kind with them and always share your knowledge.

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

My story is not a typical leader story.

Throughout my academic life, I was not a top graded student, not because I lacked the skills, but because I hated the memorizing part of the learning process.

When I was around 25 years old, I saw a car displayed in one of the first shopping malls in Romania. In that era, most Romanians were driving cars produced in Romania with a design from the ‘70, and most of the rest, owned foreign cars bought second-hand from Western Europe.

I loved it and wanted to have that car, but I couldn’t afford it. I quickly researched the level of income needed to afford the car and the job level associated.

I set a deadline to get to that level by the age of 30 and created a learning plan to get there.

I restlessly pursued the plan, and I got to that required level by the time I was 28.

The moral of the story is: set targets, deadlines and stick to them.

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