At work with Mirela Iovu
Mirela Iovu’s gift for finding the right talent has led her to spend much of her 23-year long career in enviable positions. The deputy CEO at CEC Bank in Romania spoke with Efma’s Boris Plantier about her life and work.
Tell me a little about your background.
I have worked in the Romanian banking industry for 23 years. I have spent around 14 of those years in leading positions. I joined CEC Bank in 2007 as compliance manager and since 2008 I have been the deputy CEO. CEC Bank is the oldest bank in Romania, having been established in 1864 and the only one that is owned by the state.
I graduated from the Law School of Sibiu University in 1999 and 20 years later I obtained my PhD from the Law School of Bucharest University. I also have an MA in Business Administration from City University of Seattle, USA and received a post-graduate degree in Governance, Risk and Compliance from the International Compliance Association and University of Manchester’s Business School. Recently I fulfilled one of my childhood dreams: to pursue a course at Harvard. In 2018 I enrolled in an executive program at Harvard Kennedy School.
I am also an active supporter and member of various non-governmental organizations and think tank groups.
What does your workplace look like?
The headquarters of CEC Bank is located in a superb palace which was built in 1900, back when Bucharest was called ‘Little Paris’. Since my workplace is so magnificent, it drives me to do only great things and to think big. There is no other option! I work with great people and very competitive and passionate teams. I love my job and I am very passionate about it. I consider myself extremely lucky.
Could you describe your usual working day?
As the bank’s deputy CEO, I coordinate various divisions from legal, new banking products and services, non-performing loans workout and turnaround management, international financial institutions and securities evaluation; clearly my days are challenging and full. I am definitely fortunate.
What is your favorite food?
I don’t have a favorite food per se, but I like eating sweet things – this varies between things like chocolate ice-cream and exotic fruits like passionfruit.
What do you do when you need a break from work?
My break from work is spending time with family. Being at home and together with my loved ones gives me all the strength and the energy I need!
How do you build a successful team?
I might say that I have a special talent, a gift for finding the right people (if I wasn’t being modest). As a passionate, sincere, open and energetic person, I find I attract people with similar traits. In addition to this ‘gift’, I always consider that success is not entirely my own. Instead, it belongs equally to those I work with. I value, support, respect and praise my team at all available opportunities and they know I mean it. It is simple really, isn’t it?
There is a saying that we learn more from failure than success. Tell me about one of your failures and what you have learned from it.
I have failed a few times in my life so far and in each case, I put it down to my altruism and trusting the wrong, insincere people. In spite of this, I try to maintain my faith in people but am careful to be more cautious to avoid disappointment. I believe this comes with experience and age anyway!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to succeed in financial services?
Be passionate, altruistic, curious, open-minded, energetic and authentic. Most importantly, be yourself and remember to put your team first!