For the new year, we are pleased to present an interview with Cristina Dragu, Senior Project Manager at Tefen Italy. Cristina has been with Tefen since 2012, and in this interview she told us about her fascinating studying abroad, her inspirational beliefs and what her drive is at her work.
Tell us about your background (education, previous work, etc)
I was born in Romania, and started my university studying in Bucharest, doing a B.A in Economics. In my second year, I decided to apply to another university in Paris, in parallel, and I have a second B.A. of Science from the University of Auvergne. Afterwards I decided to continue on to an M.A. degree in Business Administration, in France.
Then I started my career at KPMG in Paris. After one year I decided to move back to Romania. Being a young professional, I believe that coming back to one’s original country in order to make changes and influence with one’s acquired knowledge is important.
But after three years I didn’t find myself in the Romanian environment, and the country did not evolve as fast as I had thought and hoped. Then I applied to live in another country and started working abroad. This is how I started working at Tefen.
At Tefen, I was hired by the Italian office to perform projects in Eastern Europe. Then I worked more intensively with the Israeli office on projects in Europe for three years. A couple of years ago I started doing projects only for the Italian office, and I moved to Milan.
What drew you to apply to Tefen Management Consulting?
I think it was the moment in my career in which I decided to go back abroad, outside of Romania. I wanted a vibrant business environment, one that grows. I already had five years of experience as a consultant, which I liked, and decided not to change the consulting environment.
What I really like in Tefen is that we have a hands-on approach, compared to the other companies that provide more of analysis and redesign services, but are not involved in implementing it. We are more involved in implementing our insights, and make sure that our solutions work. This is very important in my opinion for a client to have, and all the people in Tefen are so intelligent.
What do you like the most and the least about your consultant life?
I like that I don’t do the same thing twice. We are experiencing a wide variety of offerings and different industries, and as a result the types of projects change. This gives me the right dynamics that fit my personality. I like the leadership and communication side, and consulting gives you the possibility to have a high level of communication, to work with people and exercise your leadership skills.
What I don’t like is that we’re traveling a lot. I love traveling, but it’s difficult to find the right balance between this and personal life.
What’s the main goal for a management consultant according to you?
The question is how to engage the team and the client in the project. That’s why you must have very good communication with your client, and with the team. You acquire knowledge very quickly, and in addition there are expertise and databases from which you can learn, etc.
But in my opinion, the key to success is more related to the human side. For example, we were able to carry out very important turn-arounds in clients’ sites by engaging the right people in the right way.
Tell us about your most memorable/engaging project.
I like to have challenges, and this year, we had a Quality project in a pharma company. We managed to carry out a 360 turn-around in this project. All through the process we were open with ourselves and the management.
The wheel to success is the people, and we took our challenge in a very serious way. After four months, we gained the management’s trust and high appreciation, and now they regard us as the top consulting firm regarding content and leadership, and want to continue working with us.
What are your hobbies (if any) outside of work?
I love traveling, and with my free time I normally like to visit three new countries a year. I’m also very dynamic and I like swimming and jogging. Since our job is very office related it’s very important to keep the same dynamic outside the office.
I also love reading. I read a lot of fantasy and historical books. Now I’m reading about the Medici family in Italy.
I also like the European culture, and since I’ve moved to Italy, I also have access to a lot of cultural events. Italy itself has an amazing culture and energy. When I lived in France I went to visit many places and explored its history, and this culture is a bit different in Italy. In the future, maybe I’ll explore a country – who knows.
What or who is the biggest source of influence in your life?
I think it was my parents. I had the opportunity to have a very open family, and they gave me the possibility to do all the things I wanted since I was young. I was able to take all the decisions about my school, friends, locations on my own. My parents trusted me, and even when they didn’t agree with me they gave me full freedom.
When I failed it was my failure, and it taught me to bear the consequence of my decision. This helped me trust my instincts, and it carved out many important things and achievements in my life.