It seems like only yesterday RO10 were defending their MBA thesis, when in fact, this has happened in August 2021. Despite being one of the groups that studied most of the MBA in the pandemic, the group found ways to make learning and networking over Zoom fun. And they continue to keep in touch and meet, both between each other and with other groups from the BISM Community.
At one of these meetings I met Natalia Lepădatu again. She is the Managing Partner at TARA Interactive, a Romanian software development company and co-founder at DigiSinergy, a company that develops innovative, digital disruptive products that help SMEs to increase their business performance. Natalia is a RO10 Executive MBA graduate and has over 15 years of experience in the information technology and IT services industry and over 10 years as an entrepreneur.
Throughout her career, she says she has always relied on the team, guided by the idea that “if you have a good team you can conquer the world”. This is the reason why she brought in the companies only people who are passionate about what they do. I wanted to talk to her about how she sees the future of IT shaping, what it feels like to be involved in an industry that is so dynamic and if the MBA has changed how she does business.
- You’ve been working at TARA since 2011. How has your role/main focus progressed over the years?
I started my career as a software developer, but I joined TARA as a project manager for fintech projects for the US market. I always considered that having that role was a blessing because I had the opportunity to communicate and learn from world-class renowned, successful people, some of them were willing to mentor me and guide in my personal growth plan.
After that period life opened another opportunity to become business development manager at TARA. I faced new challenges in this role and needed to make a knowledge upgrade from a project-view perspective to a wider, business perspective. And this is when I came across BISM 😊.
- What about the IT sector? How did you see it changing in these years?
The IT sector evolved exponentially over the past years and continues to change and disrupt the world as we know it. From my perspective I saw a change not only in technologies used, but also in the people working in this industry. The focus switched from a money-oriented, more transactional approach to meaning and values-oriented employees.
This is a tremendous shift in mindset, and from my point of view, the future is becoming better every day, full of conscious people looking to make the world a better place for themselves, for their children, for humanity in general, looking for solutions to complex problems.
- What impact did the MBA have on how you view and implement your role? Are you doing something different now?
The MBA surely had an impact on the way I understand the role and perform. I learned new skills, strategies, and ways of getting to my business objective. But the real value exceeded that, it went beyond the things you read and learn from books, it provided an immersive learning experience, with hands-on practice and exercises, and it contributed to a more profound level, to shift my mindset towards growth.
I am not only doing things differently, I also perceive them through different lenses. Somehow, suddenly, all the challenges and obstacles seem to have some logic and are manageable.
- What do you think is a must have for managing dev teams and clients? What combination of hard and soft skills are absolutely necessary? And how does a manager need to adapt to this?
I think that a must have for managing teams in general and clients is empathy. You need to understand their reality and help them solve their challenges and figure out how to create value. People look now for life balance, purpose, to understand their role in the whole picture, and a job to fulfill these needs.
The are movies imagining the future with artificial intelligence and machines, well, we need conscious people to program that future 😊.
From my side, my goal is to help my team develop and fulfill their business objectives and I think learning is a big part of it. In a few years, I plan to embark on a new learning s-curve and change the role, but I want to keep my options open as to what that would be.
- You graduated from RO10 in 2021. Do you still keep in touch with your colleagues or lecturers? Which one do you think made the biggest impact on you and why?
Yes, I keep in touch with my colleagues, they are the really smart guys you want to have around 😊. We had a top-notch cohort, full of good vibes and energy. We had quality time together at school, great parties, interesting talks and debates on various subjects that challenged our brains. This is definitely the surprise take-away from an MBA.
I do appreciate all our lecturers, but there are a few that were memorable to me and had a huge impact – Adrian Stanciu, helped make sense of some powerful leadership principles that contributed greatly to my growth, Magda Ropotan taught me that even creativity and innovation has a methodology and if you want to have predictable results, you should not rely on luck to create new ideas/products, Sergiu Neguț taught me that timing is the most important in our industry, and many more…
- You have 2 kids. How did the mother schedule fit with the one of a professional and an MBA student?
Yes, I have two gorgeous girls that lighten up my days. They are perfect, and I am so proud and lucky to have them. I think that when you receive such a wonderful gift in life it comes to teach you something, not to sacrifice something that is important to you, such as self-improvement.
I learned to prioritize and value time more. In other words, I made time for all the activities and people that are important to me, focused on my objectives and life goals. The MBA helped me to learn this lesson.
- Do you think you’re doing something different from a personal perspective now, after finishing the program?
Yes, the program had a huge impact on my personal life and on my mindset. I feel I am more equipped, prepared, and confident for the upcoming future, changes, and uncertainty. Now, I try to teach my kids the growth mindset and soft skills that would help them navigate through life.
At work, I am confident that with the right team onboard, the future is bright. I focus my energy on improving their performance and autonomy.
Natalia is part of our 600+ alumni community. If you want to join it, check out our business programs. Plus, check out more about our alumni stories and find out about the next intake of our Executive MBA.