Name: Maria Raluca Pavel
Title: EMEA Specialist Program Manager
I am a highly-adaptable and resourceful Program Manager, with a demonstrated experience of 11+ years of working in different industries, such as IT, translations or customer services. I have an educational background in foreign languages, with a BA in Translating and Interpreting (EN - FR) and an MA in Foreign Languages and EU Institutions.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Maria's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
To start with a joke, I do believe that it's way easier to lead processes than people. However, I do think that interacting with people is both thrilling and sometimes challenging. As we are different, we come with a different modus operandi or have different motivators. However, with tact, active listening and clarifying questions, you can certainly shift your view from challenging to thrilling.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Although I am not leading any team, I did have the chance to attend different seminars at work, such as Personal Leadership and Influencing, which offered me the incredible opportunity to interact with leaders across the organization, work and collaborate with them, and thus extend my network. They provided me with great takeaways that I still swear by. To be honest, I am a lucky professional, being part of teams where my managers believed and still believe in me and my qualities, and thus exposing me to new and interesting opportunities of professional growth.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I think structure comes naturally to me. My day starts early in the morning, around 6:30 am, when I get up, make myself a coffee and start browsing the news, see what's new on social media and start preparing my son for kindergarten.
Once I come back home, the very first thing I do is open my e-mail calendar to see what the day has in store for me. Based on that, I focus on prioritizing tasks, have my meetings, and I am always willing to lend a helping hand, if someone needs my assistance.
After the work day ends, I take my son from kindergarten, take him back home, and have some quality time together, before bath and sleep.
We usually go early to bed, around 10pm, because rest is very important to me, and I try to respect this hour as much as possible.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Never assume anything. If you have doubts, just ask away and clarify things. As I mentioned, collaboration with different people means aligning also the values, beliefs and interests of those people. Therefore, it can be challenging at times. With that in mind, I always try not to assume anything, and just proceed with clarifying my doubts, if any.
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?
Some years back, I attended a very interesting virtual class, based on Stephen R. Covey's classic, " The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People". During that 2-day course, we discussed and applied the principles, the so-called habits, and it had a great impact on my mindset. So that, after the class, I decided to buy the book and have it at home, and read it, in order to sediment all the knowledge gained.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Always challenge yourself and never be afraid of failure. Failure is part of the process. It makes you humble and helps you change your mindset, because, at the end of the day, you'll learn from all these experiences, and you'll do better in the future. And practice empathy and active listening. These are the core elements if you want to build long-lasting relationships.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
Actually, being raised in the Eastern part of Europe, we had a culture where our parents did not praise us for our achievements. It basically was something that you were supposed to do. And at some point, I received an award at work, for a portals program I was coordinating. With that mindset in mind, I was actually pleasantly surprised and happy that one of my collaborators on the program took some time from his busy day, to send out a congratulations e-mail, thus acknowledging my work and its impact. We sometimes need boosts like that to be reminded that we're appreciated.