Veronica is passionate about developing people, and promoting mindful leadership and living. She currently lives in Paris, where she is European HR Director for a famous multinational company. As Veronica nicely puts it, home is where love is, and this article reveals an awesome person who gives and receives, who learns everything possible from new experiences and who inspires people around her to live a joyful life every single day.
Name: Veronica Brejan
Age: Young spirit
Abroad since: 2013
Living in: Paris
Current position & company: Chief People Officer, PH Europe, Yum! Brands
TGR: Veronica, what a strong career you’ve had so far in HR! Congratulations! Which is the accomplishment you are mostly proud of?
VB: I am very proud of the people in my teams and how beautifully they grew in the last few years. Also, I am particularly proud of two business projects:
- The first one is a leadership academy in Vodafone Romania that impacted more than 500 leaders at all levels.
- The second is a program called “Leading with Heart”. We are currently implementing this program in Pizza Hut (PH) all around the world. It is a 2 day workshop guiding teams to get to know themselves better and unlock their full potential and involves a mix of neuroscience, mindfulness and coaching.
What's your main responsibility at Pizza Hut?
In my current role, I lead the HR function for PH in 24 countries. The business is franchised; we operate through our franchisee partners in each of the 24 markets.
Can you tell me something only you can do in the company?
My passion and key strength based on feedback received so far is related to bringing people together and inspiring them to become the best version of themselves to reach their full potential. When that’s sorted, the business results usually come easily after.
How would you characterize French people? Are they easy to work with, are they welcoming, friendly?
In our Paris office, we have 18 different nationalities, I am very proud of the international team we had created. We are happy to learn and celebrate traditions from various countries, not only France. The French people I have met in the business environment have an international mindset, are open minded and very welcoming. I was lucky!
My direct team is made of locals for French specific activities (payroll, personnel administration etc) and international profiles for franchisees support and talent management. We have 6 different nationalities in the direct team: French, American, Venezuelan, Algerian, German, Romanian; and 24 different nationalities within the franchisees HR & operations teams.
OK, now I envy you – not many people can have access to such a variety of cultures! Which is the most unique thing you’ve learned so far from your international colleagues?
It’s fascinating to hear so many life stories from people who lived in different parts of the world. I have learned 2 things that enriched my mind and heart: The first one is to remove judgement, to look at things with curiosity and an open mind. We meet people at a certain moment of our life; they come with various backgrounds, past experiences, from different cultures and their own model of the world. Removing judgement and ego allowed me to build strong relationships with people from 20+ countries.
The second is language & culture. I had learnt a bit about French language & culture.
Veronica, why Paris? What makes you stay?
I love Paris. I came here for the first time 22 years ago on a school trip and I felt at home. My family is here now and we are enjoying living in the “city of love”, but we are open to explore the world.
How do you usually spend your free time?
During the summer, I don’t spend many weekends in Paris, we usually visit the country. But I’ve discovered two things since I moved here - yoga and skydiving. I started to practice yoga two years ago after a trip to Vietnam, and pretty much at the same time I discovered skydiving. Main learnings from yoga were to learn detachment and from skydiving - to take decisions very fast (especially during my 4th jump when I had to cut away due to a twist ).
So living in France seems like a life-changing experience for you. Did you somehow find anything to disappoint you?
If you are looking for it, you can find millions of reasons to be disappointed every day in Paris…weather, complexity of language etc. My life had changed so much since I came here, the joy is much more powerful than any small disappointment: great job, very international team and responsibilities, jumping from planes, practicing yoga and mindfulness, meeting my husband, having the most amazing kid in the universe .
Bucharest, London, now Paris – basically the greatest capitals in Europe What’s next for you?
I was joking with a friend few years ago and said that I want to live in London, Paris and New York in this life. At that moment, I had no clear plan to move abroad. I’m going to NY in April this year, so let’s see…
More recently, I feel attracted to south of Spain. We had spent lot of time there traveling and also experiencing a few yoga retreats. A long term dream is to live there and create a project that will inspire people to reach their full potential and live a joyful life.
Do you see yourself moving back to Romania? What would convince you?
My family and many friends are in Romania, I love the country, especially the mountains. We have no plan to move in Romania soon, but we are open to exploring in the future.
How often do you travel to Romania?
3-4 times a year… Daniel, our 7 month old little boy, has double nationality and we want to keep him connected with Romanian culture & language. His first trip to Romania was at 3 months old.
We are also planning a 2 weeks holiday in the summer, so I am looking forward to showing my husband & French friends the mountains and disconnect for a while from the busy life.
Please tell me something particular about Romania that you would usually say to a foreign friend.
Welcoming people and amazing landscapes in the mountains! There are 2 places in Romania close to my heart that I recommend to foreign friends: Brasov (I have lots of memories from student time) and Cernica (there is a quiet place in the yard of the monastery where I have spent a lot of reflective time since I was a child).
What do you mostly miss about our country?
Family and friends, but they come to visit quite often. I had realized that I am not attached to any place in this word, for me home is where love is.
And I am sure you are surrounded by love all the time! You truly deserve it! Last but not least, tell me, Veronica, what is your biggest dream?
The biggest dream now is to create something that will support people to live a mindful, happy life.
Veronica, it is an honor and a pleasure to meet you! Good things happen to nice people, and nice people will always influence other people’s life! Thank you for sharing your story with The Golden Romania!
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