Radu takes his energy from meeting other people and helping them grow on a personal and professional level. He gives and receives at the same time, by learning everything possible from other cultures. More than 15 years of management positions in the banking system have brought him to this place where he is responsible for the results of his global teams in Austria and abroad. Radu is among top performers in the European banking system, and today he took some time off to share his wide knowledge and beliefs.
Name: Radu TOPLICEANU
Hometown: Piatra Neamt
Abroad since: January 2014
Living in: Vienna, Austria
Current position & company: Head of Multichannel and Segments | Sberbank Europe
TGR: Radu, congratulations for your impressive career in the banking industry! Which is the accomplishment you’re mostly proud of?
RT: I managed lots of successful projects and business lines, both in Romania and abroad. I also had my fair share of failures. I am quite pleased with my ability to switch industries and roles, to move across different functions and learn new things. However, none of the achievements made me prouder than helping my colleagues to grow. I had the chance to lead quite numerous teams in different areas and I always felt proud and energized when seeing the team members growing professionally.
What’s your main responsibility at the current job?
My main goal is to support local teams in developing and achieving their goals. I am responsible for multichannel distribution - integrating physical distribution, like branches, partners or bank at work with digital ones and making sure customers journey is seamless. I am also responsible for Segments P&L, sharing financial and sales indicators with my colleagues in the countries. Role implies a lot of travelling in the region and multifunctional projects.
Can you tell me something you can do best in the company?
One of the things I excel is building productive working relationship with my colleagues in the countries. Working in a head office needs a delicate balance between guidance and collaboration. You need to understand and respect cultural differences, to constantly communicate and especially to focus on value added activities. By doing so, I managed to tap into the knowledge and experience of local teams and to help countries share their best practices.
How many direct reports do you have?
I have around 30 persons in my team, some of them in head office and most of them in the countries. Not a very big team compared with my previous ones, but one that I am very proud of. Is a team extremely diversified in terms of areas of expertise and culture.
Is your team mainly made of locals or expats?
My team is very international - including myself, we represent 13 countries. I have colleagues mainly from the countries where we operate but also professionals from other places. The multicultural mix is one of the reasons I enjoy my current role. Working in this environment offers me the chance to learn new things each and every day.
What about your free time – do you spend it with locals or other expats?
Most of the time I spend with family. We hang around mostly with Romanian and expat friends. Is rather difficult to bond with Austrian at a deeper level, especially if (as in my case) you do not speak German. Austria offers great destinations for couple of days trips and Vienna is driving distance from lots of destinations – you can be in Prague or Budapest in 3-4 hours. Or you can easily reach Bled, Postojna or Plitvice in Slovenia and Croatia.
How are the Austrian people? Was it difficult to adjust to their life style and habits?
They are much more restrained than Romanians. I still need to remember this in many interactions and not take personal their coldness. From this perspective, I am still adjusting today. They are also masters in balancing job and personal life. And, if you are lucky enough to go beyond the hard, external shell, they are great friends. Finally yet importantly, they are enjoying sports and outdoor activities.
Radu, how's life in Vienna? Is It so much different than Bucharest?
Vienna is a wonderful city, with very high quality of life – this is recognized in all rankings. Is a city with amazing museums and places to visit and many activities for kids. The most striking difference is the rhythm of life. In Bucharest, everybody is on the rush and extremely preoccupied. Here people are much more relaxed. Second, everybody respects law and order, starting with traffic rules. Everybody. This gives you a tremendous security feeling, which we highly appreciate. Third, infrastructure is on a totally different level - public transportation, health, administrative services - all are working flawlessly.
How often do you travel to Romania?
Quite rare. We try to spend parts of the holidays in Romania, to enjoy family and reconnect with friends but we also like to discover Europe around Austria, so we come to Romania once a year or so. I am usually driving and each time I observe the difference in infrastructure: from Vienna to Romanian border, 450 km, round 4 hours. From to border to my Romanian destination 550 km, 9 hours if I am lucky…
What do you mostly miss about Romania?
People warmth and friendliness, friends and family - I think this is the same for most of Romanians living abroad. On the second place - wines. I do not miss food, as I enjoy Austrian one and I am myself quite a good cook, but I have to say local wines are not my favorites. Whenever I travel by car to Romania I make sure I refresh my wine provision.
Do you see yourself moving back? What could convince you?
Never say never. Especially from family perspective, Romania is always an open option for me. Stars needs to align in a certain manner (interesting role, cultural fit in a new organization) and then we will see. I think of ourselves as being citizens of the world, so future is definitely holding new destinations (including Romania) for us.
Do you see any positive changes in the Romanian society recently?
I guess it depends on how you define recently ... Looking at the last 3 years (since I left) there is progress. Economic growth is a strong indicator of improvement. The part that concerns me is lack of regulatory predictability. Too many changes in legislation, with retroactive applicability. And the events from last months are making me very cautious about the future.
Please tell me something particular about Romania that you would usually say to a foreign friend.
Is a wonderful country and worth to visit. Dracula is not there (anymore) but there are plenty of interesting people and wonderful places. Taste the local food and of course the local wines.
I'll drink to that! Thank you for your time, it's a pleasure to have you on the list of Romanians I am proud of!
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