Career coaching trends in Romania
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”, Confucius. This may seem a naive remark in the capitalist world nowadays, highly impacted by the global economic crisis. However, more and more people have the courage to step outside the comfort of a secure job and pursue their passion; and turning their passion into a purposeful and profitable activity, be it as an entrepreneur or a corporate professional.
What role do career coaches play in all this? Can coaches really help you clear your ideas, draw a strategic business plan and start creating a successful and meaningful life out of it? The answer is Yes, they can. International trends show that both corporations and individual professionals seek support from a career coach.
In this article, we take the pulse of Romania, a society in which democracy and capitalism are still battling with post-communist mentalities and practices. For this, we chose two prominent career coaches from Bucharest, Diana Ursachi (Management Consultant and Founder of GuideAcademy) and Dragoș Nicolaescu (Vocational Mentor and Business Angel). We explore current trends and challenges that Romanians face when it comes to their professional lives and we review some Success Stories.
You will get inspiring insights and advice on how to manage career transitions, find your dream job and transform it into a rewarding activity.
- How do you describe the trends in the Romanian market as regards career coaching?
Diana Ursachi: Few individuals see the demand for career coaching now in Romania. Certainly this attitude is shaped by the income and education levels of the ones concerned, but above all, it is the public education system that sets the benchmark for coaching-related activities; and currently career-coaching is hardly a priority for public education. It is not rare that I do coaching for pupils from well-off families whose parents don’t really understand the need for coaching, but comply with the trend that sets this as a must; that is often because the parents themselves advanced in their careers and up on the social ladder without career coaching (but certainly with hard work, and often with uncertainty about their skills & abilities, as well as large amounts of frustration regarding their career roadmap & work environment).
- What are the biggest challenges of people today, as regards professional life?
Dragoș Nicolaescu: The lack of personal (intrinsic) motivation at the job, choosing a career based on opportunity and skills, not passion, a regressive and life-draining work environment in the corporate world.
Diana Ursachi: Finding work-life balance is an all-time favourite and probably it will continue being so for a number of years. Unfortunately, Romania lags far behind the Western countries (e.g. Belgium, where I have lived and worked) in this respect: working overtime without necessarily getting paid extra is a wide-spread practice, being micromanaged (irrespective of one’s seniority level) is a big issue, with deep cultural roots, that builds frustration, encouraging face-time in the office instead of actual performance is another issue. In my opinion, this vicious circle could be stopped by exposing seniors to certain foreign People Management practices or by encouraging Romanians who worked and studied abroad to return and put their knowledge to work.
- What do most of the people chose with regards on their career?
Dragoș Nicolaescu: Most of the people do what those around them do, friends, family, colleagues etc., and few have the courage to step out of their family and social environments and choose with awareness and consistency a new environment where to develop their passions and abilities, as they consider fit. If you don’t stand out (rebel) of your socio-familial environment at 20-25 y.o., you still have a chance at 35-40 y.o., the middle-age crisis period.
Diana Ursachi: Many Romanians are very uncomfortable with uncertainty (as shown in a recent Hofstede report: 90% of Romanians prefer to avoid uncertainty), therefore prefer the safety of a less-rewarding, bland environment to the risk of a potentially extremely rewarding option. However, there are a few who dare to make sudden shifts and they are usually people in middle to top management positions who reached a glass ceiling (can’t grow anymore, professionally) and decide to either change professions completely or to take a sabbatical leave to assess their options.
- How do you help your clients? What means do you have in hand?
Dragoș Nicolaescu: For me, mentorship is the most efficient way to help your clients, in comparison with consultancy, coaching, psychological counselling, because it engulfs all the others. It’s a three-in-one kind of thing. The mentor has a rich life experience, both professionally and personally, that enables him to guide the client on shorter paths to his objective, but in a way that lets the client find the right solutions for him, while experimenting with both success and failure.
Diana Ursachi: Having lived in three countries and worked in consulting I have developed an overview approach: I look at the issue from various angles, I take into account the main variables involved and seek several options for addressing the matter at hand. Of course, this approach works best in certain assignments (diagnosis of the company culture and adjacent issues) while in others I assist the clients to find solutions on their own.
- Advice for:
- A teenager to select her/his career
Diana Ursachi: Get off Facebook and talk to people working in your fields of interest. Find out what their jobs are actually about and see if your dreams and abilities match their descriptions. Don’t ask them if they think you can do that job. There are as many recipes for being successful in a job as there are people on Earth. However, talk to a councillor for a realistic assessment of your skills and career path.
Dragoș Nicolaescu: Make a list with all the things that you enjoy doing and explore each for a month, so as to discover the ones you can do better. Then, search for people that share your passion and, also, talk about your passion on all your social media channels.
- A professional making a career change
Diana Ursachi: Find viable alternative options for what you’re doing now and make sure there is at least a significant other (family, friend or mentor) supporting you in this shift. Only go for a sudden change (as of tomorrow) if you think that your physical and mental health may suffer if you stick to the current setting. Otherwise, go for a gradual change, by starting off with your new activity in your free time (or as a part-time job) and gradually increasing the intake in time, until the former activity becomes secondary time &financial security-wise.
- A professional looking to progress up the corporate ladder
Dragoș Nicolaescu: Look for a manager/leader that you can admire, in your organization, someone who truly inspires you, a mentor. Talk to him and find the possible solutions to work with him. The people that you work with and, especially, the direct manager, are more important for your mental and emotional health than your job description and salary pack all together. We have a nice Romanian proverb for this that says: “Better to lose with the smart one, than win with the fool one.”
Diana Ursachi: Do what you have been doing until now if you feel comfortable with it. Otherwise, talk with relevant people around you and get feedback on what you could do different/better in the same place or in a new one. Asking different people may bring you diverging points of view (as people have different agendas) so once you get feedback, sit down with a coach to make sure that you can separate the wheat from the chaff.
- How to cope with career breaks & redundancies?
Dragoș Nicolaescu: You received the opportunity, albeit forcefully, to apply, maybe for the first time in your life, the process of finding your passion and discovering your future possible vocation. Apply the teenager steps.
- How to approach retirement
Diana Ursachi: By planning it decades in advance and making sure that: a) youare financially secure (as much as it is under your control); and b) that you get personal validation not just from your job but also from family, friends, hobbies, community work as well as other activities.
Dragoș Nicolaescu: Same process. Explore your passions and even if you don’t need to convert them in income sources, fully enjoy them, give them to younger ones and become a mentor for them. As the joy of your passion and the warmth of those relationships will make you feel younger and more alive than ever.
Let’s see now how people who have benefited from Dragoș and Diana’s advice, have made a shift in their career and find purpose and happiness in their work.
VlăduțNeacșu is now a Business Analyst at Hilti Italia, after having worked in sales in a multinational company in Romania. He was looking for a career shift and international experience, therefore Diana’s coaching method suited his needs perfectly. “Firstly, I went to a group training for people that want a career change and to work abroad, that lasted four meetings and when I got the first serious opportunity I started having private counselling adjusted to my specific needs. I am working in Milano on the position I dreamt for in last October.”
Alexandra Dragomir is now Passion Catalyst Coach. She chose Dragoș as vocational mentor when she decided to capitalise her passion and make it her vocation. The mentorship programme included in-person meetings with Dragoș, as well as constant online discussions, over a 3 month process. “I am grateful that I met Dragoș. The mentoring process helped me to understand how much I have to offer, find the way to implement my plans and enjoy the actual results. What made the difference was that, unlike traditional coaching, vocational mentoring provided me with effective tools that I could not identify by myself during the three month process.
Satisfaction is high for those who make the career change in line with their dreams. However the process is not yet over. New challenges are knocking at the door.
- What challenges do you have compared to your previous job/ professional activity?
Vlăduț Neacșu: It is the opposite of sales. In the past I was working 90% with people to increase the numbers, now I am playing 90 % of the time with numbers to help people.
Alexandra Dragomir: I face challenges specific to the transition from an employee to an entrepreneur, namely: maintaining my vocation on upward trends both for the financial and non-financial results.
- What advice would you give to teenagers/ students/ professionals wishing to find/ change their job, progress up the corporate ladder?
Vlăduț Neacșu: Dreams come true if from time to time you stop dreaming and start doing something to accomplish that dream, and if you do not know what to do, go to someone with experience in guiding, it will cost you more if you do not.
Alexandra Dragomir: My advice would be to have the curiosity to ask questions, to seek answers, to implement responses, to test new roads, to explore new passions and to have the maturity to change route when necessary. In addition, given that since three months ago I am organizing a workshop that has already gathered a community of 50 people, my advice is to learn to play. Sometimes big answers come out of small things.
It takes courage, ambition and perseverance to make a career change. And career coaching does play an important role in this process. It encourages you to find your bliss and follow it.
“Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” says Joseph Campbell (renowned mythologist, writer and lecturer).
Cristina Nicoleta Burcă – iCN Journalist Romania is a professional and enthusiastic Communication and Lifestyle Consultant, with broad professional experience in international environments (Belgium, Germany, India, Italy and Romania) as a PR professional and Journalist. She is currently based in Romania, but she offers consultancy and trainings at international level. You can find her on: http://www.brandimage-europe.eu/en/ and https://www.linkedin.com/pub/cristina-burca/2b/463/133.
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