His life is in Köln but his heart belongs to Romania: despite moving to Germany more than 20 years ago, the most beloved project of his amazing career was located in Brasov! Radu Ciocan is an expert in developing worldwide Customer Experience programs for the telecom industry. After managing global teams in Romania, Germany, Austria or US, Radu brings his world-class performances to the Middle East within one of the largest telecom companies: over 120 million customers benefit from his lifelong expertise! Today we find out more about life in Doha, as well as how a fabulous Romanian performer feels about his origins.
Name: Radu Ciocan
Hometown: Köln - Germany
Abroad since: 2013
Living in: Doha - Qatar
Current position & company: Group Director Customer Experience - Ooredoo Group
TGR: Radu, among all the interesting things I read about you, this one struck me from the very beginning: almost 4 years living and working in Qatar... Is it only thanks to the business opportunity or do you find Doha an attractive place to live in?
RC: Well, I came here first of all due to the opportunity of the role Ooredoo offered me back in 2013. By that time I had no experience (neither as tourist nor expat) with life in the Gulf. Now, after 4 years I can say Qatar is a place you can live very good, you can enjoy a luxury life and almost all things you would like to do (from Bars, Clubs, Theatre, Concerts to Tennis, Golf, Water sports, etc.). However, for an European used with green forests, mountains, snows I could’t name Doha as an attractive place to live in.
What is it about Middle East that attracts so many European professionals these days?
I would say job opportunities while recession at home, in a tax free environment.
Is it more challenging to build Customer Experience in Asia than in the European society?
No, but very different. The Telecommunication markets are different in Gulf from any other emerging or European markets. Just some examples:
Customer Expectations are quite the same across the world, it is only the level of quality which they accept, the threshold for „dissatisfaction“ which is very different from region to region. By the way, even in Europe western European customers are much more demanding when it comes to quality as the eastern European ones.
I see, so I would assume the challenge was to understand the specifics of the region...
Asian culture is sooo different from German one. There are at the two extreme: the Indonesian or Myanmar culture is the most indirect culture, while the German - almost the most direct culture. I had to painfully learn how to speak with people in Asia. You never tell them they are wrong, you always keep in mind to "save the face“, you don’t expect they will tell you what they think but always what they believe you like to hear.
Who helps you develop Customer Experience for Ooredoo?
In Germany at Deutsche Telekom I had 15-25 direct reports. Here I had max. 5 for the same, even more responsabilities as back in Germany. I only had one local as direct report, all others were expats from England, Italy, Australia, Egypt, US, etc.
How does a Romanian spend his free time in Doha?
Playing Golf. Going at least two times a week to eat outside with my family. Watching FC Köln live when they play in Bundesliga. Shopping from time to time.
Have you learned the local language?
No, I don’t actually need it.
Please tell me something unique about Qatar culture.
The weddings - there are separate parties for men and women. Men, all dressed in their white robes, are decently eating in silence in a restaurant for some hours. Obviously western expats are also invited and welcomed. Women - they are really enjoying a proper party: wearing expensive and sexy dresses, dancing and listening to music. Obviously no men are welcomed to their party, but sometimes expat women.
You have left Romania for Germany in the early 90s. How does our country look like nowadays after all these years abroad?
Lot of things have changed in Romania. But what I love the most are the things that haven’t change: the nature, the old Transylvanian cities and villages, the people who didn’t change with the time and financial possibilities.
And what an impressive career you've had abroad! Which is the accomplishment you are mostly proud of?
I did very large transformation programs across Europe in Deutsche Telekom, in US at T-Mobile or here at Ooredoo across MENA and Asia, but the accomplishment I am mostly proud of is the German speaking call center I have founded in Brasov. Back in 2012 I could convince executives from Romtelecom and T-Mobile Austria to give me the chance to create a „near-shore“ call center in Brasov to take service calls from Austrian customers. Started from nothing, I have chosen the building, the furniture, the technology (a great Romanian IT solution), I have recruited 80-100 young people and managed the operation in the first 1 year towards performances never expected by the Austrian management. Today, this call center is still functioning, securing decent salaries for 50 - 80 Romanian employees.
This is music to my ears - to mention a Romanian-based project! By the way, what do you mostly miss about Romania?
The food, but I remember it every time I travel to Romania - once, maybe twice a year.
Do you see yourself moving back? What could convince you?
My heart is Romanian, but my home is Köln. When I retire, I will go back home.
Please tell me something particular about Romania that you would usually say to a foreign friend.
Great nature, great people, you have to spend some days in Romania if you are somewhere in the area. But don’t waste your time too much in Bucharest
What is your biggest dream?
To be healthy till 80-90 years old. To be able to play golf and enjoy life after work….
Any final remarks regarding our home country?
It is such a pity for our country to be leaded by such a corrupted political class...
Well, I am sure these things won't last forever, and it's excellent to have professionals like yourself who actively contribute to the development of our economy! Thank you for your time!
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