[Meet Our Industry Ambassadors] – UniCredit

//[Meet Our Industry Ambassadors] – UniCredit

Catalina Crisan, Head of Operations – UniCredit

My name is Catalina Crisan, and I’m Head of Operations at UniCredit Bank Austria Branch Romania, an SSC with approx. 300 employees, offering Payments, Legal Processes, AFC, and Securities Services.

How did you start your career? Which were your first steps? How did you envision your career?

In 2005, when I joined UniCredit as Shared Service Centre, the industry was at its earliest beginnings in Romania, counting around 200 people—a sector not well known by future employees.

Therefore, at the age of 23, I envisioned myself having a different career, a future as a judge, with a maximum of one year of pause between University graduation and the National Institute of Magistracy.

What were your key career moments? 

Looking back, that specific year changed my perspective and defined my professional journey. I found in UniCredit a young team, eager to learn and grow and a company willing to make huge investments in its own employees to help them reach their purpose and become professionals. Starting with technical trainings and going further with language and soft skills courses, while also providing the opportunity to embrace abroad experiences, I found and still find UniCredit as the best place to work.

Teamwork (doing things together to achieve results as a team and not as an individual) was the most valuable skill developed in my first professional years, a concept not present, as a culture, in our schools (especially at that time). Afterwards, everything seemed to come naturally, I always found the purpose, motivation, and readiness to constantly develop and reach the next level of my career, having as a foundation the sense of belonging and the culture of my company.

What are the three most valuable career lessons you have learnt?

Shared Services Centres (SSCs) are rapidly evolving in order to adapt to geopolitical conditions, but also to provide value-added services and better customer experiences. Therefore, each one of us has to not only keep the pace but also be actively part of this amazing journey, through fast adaptability to change, idea generation, and constant learning by doing but also by studying.

Why did you choose Business Services Industry? What were the top 3 reasons for choosing your company?

At that time, I said Yes, without equivoque, to UniCredit, as it was already present, as an important Bank on our market, therefore the level of confidence and trust was high.

Tell us a little bit about your private life: your passions, family. What do you do to relax?

Someone recently said, when asked about work-life balance, that has two marriages. A statement that I really do embrace. I am passionate about my work, which gives me energy, satisfaction, and purpose, but so does my family. I do my best in spending quality time with them and really be present. Therefore, I try to create habits, special moments and nice memories, especially with my 11-year-old daughter. Each evening we have tea time, using fancy cups, adding cookies, creating a pleasant atmosphere, lighting some candles, and listening to her favourite music. It is the moment when we share the most important events we had during the day, being the most wonderful way to end it.

If now you were starting your career, knowing the present and near future opportunities, what would you do?

I am now sure that I would know from the beginning, without any doubts, that this is the path I want to follow. The BPO/SSC sector is the one that offers the most opportunities to its employees.

What are the top 3 skills that you would develop?

Listen more and always actively, and boost my self-confidence and patience.

What would you do and what would you avoid doing?—practical advice to young professionals

Don’t wait for opportunities to knock at your door, seek and embrace them. Afterwards, don’t stop, make it a continuous journey.

Be curious, humble, and always find yourself in line with the mission and culture of your workplace. Do things because you like them, not because you have to, and then you will not look up for work-life balance, but you will have a remarkable life where there is room for both: career and family!

Cristian Cilibiu, Country Manager – UniCredit

My name is Cristian Cilibiu, and I am responsible for UniCredit SPA Italy and UniCredit Bank Austria, both companies represented locally through the Romanian branch ( Bucharest and Iasi). Both locations and companies are composed of 1800 colleagues, offering support to the areas related to banking services (Trade Finance, Payments, Credits, and also to the CoreBanking part of the bank: Accounts Management, Securities, Certifications, Garnishments, etc.) and digital services (Internet Banking, Mobile Banking, etc., Trade Finance, Payments platforms, etc.).

How did you start your career? Which were your first steps? How did you envision your career?

My career started in 2000, covering various roles such as accountant, software developer, graphic designer, and Ecommerce developer, and in 2005, almost 18 years ago, I joined the banking industry.

UniCredit, my employer, was a pioneer at that time in transferring activities to a new country, let’s say early stages of the SSC industry. As most of the transfers in the SSC at that time, the processes started with simple activities that, afterwards, evolved into more complex ones. So my first step started by understanding how to find ways not to perform low value-added activities, focusing on optimising, streamlining, and bringing efficiency, mainly due to my willingness to move forward, learn and develop. In 2005, I even managed to create a robot, admittedly in an archaic way, as at that time, there was no technology to develop RPA solutions, a robot that replaced the manual activity that I was daily performing. It was that moment when my managers noticed me and my potential, and from that moment on, it was easy to move from one position to another.

What were your key career moments?

During your professional journey, it’s important not to stop at any level or any position; continuous learning means knowledge, therefore, every 2 to 3 years, at most, I’ve changed my position. Many times, I’ve had the ambition and courage to start from scratch in areas where I had no previous experience, but I was always curious and open to seeing different things. Constant learning and constant challenge are the keys to moving forward and improving your skills. In a continuous moving world, this attitude will ensure you do not become obsolete.

What are the three most valuable career lessons you have learnt?

Lesson number 1: Be curious, and don’t underestimate yourself. I have learnt throughout these years that if you are confident in what you are doing, believe in your ideas, and if there is also passion, speak-up might bring you only benefits. Second: Enhance your networking through knowledge sharing. You will always be smarter (and appreciated) for sharing an idea/solution/suggestion rather than keeping it for yourself.

Moreover, don’t stop, don’t attach yourself to a position/chair, don’t wait that somebody creates your path, do it yourself throughout a constant journey, develop yourself by learning and constantly changing positions.

Why did you choose Business Services Industry? What were the top 3 reasons for choosing your company?

I could say that I was the one chosen by the Business Service Industry. 18 years ago, BPOs and SSCs were at their earliest beginnings. The industry constantly grew also with the support of ABSL, by building awareness in the market.

Due to my background, both in IT and Economics, I had to choose between two job offers: one in a very well-known telecom corporation and another in a then-less-known company, within RO market. I chose the second one as it was a multinational company, coming from Italy and covering the banking sector. I was entering by hazard, but the years to come have shown that it was the best choice, managing to create my own path, accumulating knowledge, developing my managerial skills, but also creating strong relationships. What I have also learnt is that in a very vast and international company, building a network is essential, knowing the experts covering different fields, and having the possibility to ask and rely on different people is very important. UniCredit, being present in multiple countries and embracing a vast number of nationalities, offered me a helpful environment and also the opportunity to work as an expat. In Italy, Austria and other countries of UniCredit Group and moreover, to create the network that helped me build my career.

The company culture and the values of UniCredit are the same as those that I have as an individual and apply in my day-to-day life. We are speaking about accountability (taking ownership of your actions), carrying (doing everything by taking care of colleagues, community, and customers) and integrity, which should be part of all people’s DNA.

Having all these: the speak-up culture, the possibility to move from country to country, meeting a lot of people, the environment, my colleagues with whom I am working, but also starting new types of activities, kept me in “shape” in the company, and only the mirror shows that 18 years passed by.

Tell us a little bit about your private life: your passions, family. What do you do to relax?

Whenever I want to disconnect or when I have a really important decision to take, I go by bike into nature, sometimes reaching more than 100 km/day. In general, biking and skiing give me freedom but also boost my creativity and clear thinking.

As I also have two kids, a son of 3 years old and a daughter of 9 and they are very, very… did I say very? demanding, lately, I am trying to develop my playing skills as well, but I admit it’s hard because they are bursting with energy and I am struggling to keep pace with them. Luckily, both love biking as well, so this is also a way of spending quality time together.

If now you were starting your career, knowing the present and near future opportunities, what would you do?

My advice/suggestion to someone joining a new workplace, especially in this industry, is to take a look at how the environment is developing. The AI, ChatGPT, OpenAi, Bard, and all IT development, will not take your job, it is you that will need to embrace and use the technology to do better and faster your job, to evolve and be a step ahead. At the same time, do not forget to take care of your health, enjoy what you are doing professionally and personally, and most important put your family first.