Interview – Luminita Mihalache, Senior Consultant IRC Romania

Starting this month, Radu Stanescu, the founder of 1tedjob, became a member of IRC Global Executive Search Partners, putting Romania on a map of a professional alliance of executive search firms. IRC Global Executive Search Partners has more than 300 accomplished executive search professionals in 80+ offices across 6 continents.

Radu partnered with Atanas Galchev and together are the managing partners of IRC Romania, where they identify and recruit top talent for companies, locally and internationally.

Entering this alliance, Radu Stanescu gathered a team of professionals to help him achieve all the objectives and offer all the services at the highest standards. One of his team’s members is Luminita Mihalache, with more than 20 years experience in the field, covering issues like Senior Executive Search, Job Evaluation, Succession Planning and Assessment Center. Luminita worked for many years at Unilever, covering 8 countries in SCE and most recently as Director of HR. We asked Luminita some questions regarding her experience until now, her role in IRC Romania and some insights about the HR industry in Romania.

Luminita Mihalache

1. Can you tell us more about your role as a Senior Consultant in the IRC Romania team? 

20 years of HR experience, as a HR Business Partner and, lately, as a HR Director within Unilever South Central Europe – the FMCG multinational company that has one of its headquarters in Bucharest, from where it manages eight regional countries – allow me to understand and run a wide range of HR processes (talent pipeline, talent identification, reward and motivation, development, performance management etc.); therefore, I believe I can successfully contribute to each and every process run by IRC in Romania or any other country.  If I were to choose from all HR processes, I’ll go for the talent acquisition process and for the talent pipeline development as key factors, responsible for the success of companies.

2. What are the biggest challenges in sourcing and retaining key leadership talent, from your point of view?

First of all, it is about the perfect match between the candidate’s profile and the job requirements. During the sourcing process, it is mandatory to find and select those people that have the professional skills, the general skills, but also the leadership ones, that are suitable for the organization. Nevertheless, the culture of a company is important and, thus, we should always keep that in mind when selecting the right candidates who could fit in.
The biggest issue that we are confronting with,  within the Romanian market (as well as the entire Balkan region), is the war over talent, a situation that applies everywhere. Highly skilled people are attracted by big, well-known companies and their brands are looking for a professional development and growth, at the fastest pace. Anyway, this is the point the companies must consider when attracting the best people. A clear development plan that takes into account the “learning process through job learning, trainings, coaching and mentoring” combined with a structured reward plan could be very important for the desired talents. Moreover, the discussion of their career perspective in a transparent way and on a regular basis is a “must-have” in their case.
Last but not least, when talking about retention, the role of the Line Manager is crucial, given the fact that he has to be in close contact with the subordinate for integration support and understanding his / her needs.

3. How difficult it is to find candidates who meet employers’ expectations, in the process of executive search? What are the consequences?

The recruitment process is quite difficult for the jobs where there is a market scarcity. The best example is the field of engineering where we have less and less highly specialists. Also, even if we succeed to find people with high professional skills, the leadership capabilities are equally important and should be carefully tested during the recruitment process. In this way, we ensure that the people selected for the job will come up with the right strategy, while given their best performance.

4. Can you tell us, from your experience, what are the 3 most important skills that big companies are looking for in a candidate, when they are recruiting through IRC?

If from a professional skills point of view, everything is perfect, then we need to see at the respective candidate, the vision and the sparkling for success that could be identified if we
–> observe the “growth mindset or the passion for growth”;
–> the “bias for action”;
–> the “consumer and customer focus”.

When we are talking about the professional skills of a candidate, these ones are easier to identify, so the process is easier and there aren’t any major problems. Yet, the soft skills, such as a leadership vision and an eager desire to succeed, are more difficult to find in a person.
And last but not least, the “capability of building talents and teams”.

5. What is your opinion about HR management in Romania? How prepared are the companies here compared to other countries in which you have worked, in terms of talent management (attract, develop and retain employees)?

The big players on the market run with high consistency all the related HR processes, in the same manner that it happens on a global level. This includes the building of the talent pipeline starting with Traineeship & Internship programs, through identification of the high potential people and their development, while putting in place a dedicated Reward plan. The most successful factors in attracting and retaining the talents in multinationals companies are represented by the set of well-designed and integrated human resource strategy that helps the employee to evolve and grow and be motivated.
There are other companies that are in the process of building the HR team while starting to implement the HR concepts with the help of agencies, consultants, etc. and this is important because on the Romanian and Bulgarian market there are many foreign companies and local ones that realize that the success of their BRANDS is based on their successful people.
I must say that these markets even if there aren’t mature enough from a HR management point of view, they are on the right direction and on a continuous development and change. The competition is hard, also, in having the right HR people “in house”, after many outsourcing centers set up their offices both in Romania and Bulgaria.

“Radu and I first worked together many years ago, while both working at Unilever. We’ve always shared a similar outlook and approach to problem-solving, so it was an exciting opportunity for me to join Radu’s team as a Senior Consultant. My previous experience includes working at Unilever in Romania and for the Balkan region, and the most recently as Director of HR. As my background is in the corporate/multinational environment I look forward to bringing best-practices and my know-how to bear in new settings, as well as learn about the issued faced by a more diverse set of companies.”, said Luminita.

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