This month’s Member Spotlight
Global Acceleration Manager, Anheuser-Busch InBev
I’ve always been an obvious “engineer” profile. I love getting my hands dirty, I love fixing things, I have big issues accepting the “it cannot be done” answer. I received my Mechanical Engineering Master degree in Romania and followed it with a PhD that gave me the opportunity to study in Germany with a Marie Curie fellowship. Procter & Gamble recruited me during that time and I moved to Belgium to start my exciting Research & Development career. I had a blast in P&G, I grew enormously there – what an excellent school of leadership! After 6 years though I have decided to switch my focus from Detergents to Beer, pursuing a great opportunity in Anheuser-Busch InBev, World’s biggest brewer.My role today, suggestively titled “Global Acceleration Manager”, allows me to use my technical skills but mostly my interpersonal and leadership skills to lead and accelerate big, global, prioritized projects that bring better beers to consumers all over the world! Something to be proud about when sharing a beer with friends:)
Why are you passionate about the LEAD mission?
I believe that equality and diversity are to some extent misunderstood in today’s professional world. I believe gender equality is not about women fighting for their right to be equal, it’s about women AND men finally understanding that our world today does not distinguish by gender and that we all have to forget this categorization even exists and work together to make the most of our lives. I do not think women should get preferential treatment because of their gender – I do believe, however, that activities such as raising a child should be enabled by employers for whoever does it (man OR woman). I do not believe in forced gender diversity quotas – I actually think they work against the equality agenda by casting doubt over the reasons a woman gets promoted (for example). The great value of LEAD is that it provides the view, the coaching and the support people need when they lose this perspective. Best practices and inspiring stories, examples of companies and communities leading the way in the true meaning of equality, networking with like-minded people – this is what will help us advance true diversity. I was actually just the other day discussing this exact topic with a friend (Denis O’Sullivan) who is the first man to win P&G’s “Women in Innovation” award for his work on gender diversity and inclusion – how inspiring is that?
What would you say is one of the most adventurous or riskiest moves you’ve made professionally?
Learning new things motivates me – just a nicer way of saying I get bored doing the same thing. I moved from P&G to AB InBev looking for a new challenge and a different mindset. I had no idea just how big of a change that would turn out to be! Challenges on all fronts – content of job, amount of responsibility, pace of the business and of the company, but more than everything stepping into the very definition of “a man’s world” – what’s more manly than brewing beer? It was a bit overwhelming at first and I did find myself asking “what have I done?!” but then I realized that it was all in my head. I did not feel, for a second, out of place because I was a woman. Going back to my point above – boundaries around us are most of the times set by ourselves. I am happy with the change, it worked out great for me, but looking back I realize it was a risky change.
What have you triumphed over?
I need to thank Sharon for this interview – it forced me to stop and reflect, something we do not do enough nowadays… I had to think as far as being a student back in Romania almost 20 years ago. I remember trying to imagine back then how the rest of my life would look like with all the opportunities an engineering degree offered… It sounds like a cliché, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be anywhere close to today’s reality. I consider this a big triumph over the fear of taking chances, the fear of going outside (self) set boundaries, the cosiness of a low-risk life. I am a big believer in “you make your own luck” – you just need to have the courage to take that first step and follow the opportunities.