Colin Lovering, the Senior Advisor with COS (Corporate Office Solutions) and International Business Partner with Brainovate Leadership Consultancy. Vice President of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce. I provide business performance advice and training for organisations looking to increase sales and profitability.
How did you start your career? Which were your first steps? How did you envision your career?
I was actually an aspiring graphic designer through my early years but the reality of being a young father soon woke me up to the need of a slightly less adventurous career in the short term.
I entered the flexible packaging business and soon found a home for my neglected creativity with new role working with international clients inventing and designing new packaging concepts which evolved me into a full-time consultant position towards my late 20’s.
What were your key career moments (those that had an impact on your professional journey)?
This is easy to answer as I give full credit to Dr Robert Cialdini and his book about the power of influence. This set of persuasive skills that he teaches enabled me to succeed in sales but also carve out an opportunity to go and work in France for 3 years followed by a global role in the USA.
What are the best three most valuable career lessons you have learned?
I guess I’m still learning new lessons but the past ones that immediately spring to mind are, firstly, the need to be both liked and respected was a big goal for me in the early days when I focused too much on the ‘likability factor’ and the lesson learnt through this was to find the right balance but focus on your professionalism first and the likeability should then compliment that.
Secondly, would be learning to say no to people as I was a bit of a “yes, I can do that” person which created more pain than pleasure with business colleagues and clients alike .
And finally, it would be about humility, I learned that the most powerful and courageous things we can say are “thank you” and “I’m sorry”.
Why did you choose this business sector? What were top 3 reasons for choosing to be a business performance advisor, trainer and moderator?
Well, I guess it goes back to when I was having a great run of success in the sales & management field for a number of years culminating in being presented with a European performance award for sales two years running and then being asked to share my knowledge and experience with a wider audience. I spent 3 years living in France and then 3 more in the USA setting up the global training platform for the organisation I was with. The moderating part actually appeared in my life courtesy of ABSL and a couple of other major event organisers a few years ago and I remember being ambushed by Florin Grama asking me to host the 2nd ABSL conference in 2015 I think it was and I have been continually learning this art ever since!
What are your plans for 2020?
Well, the two main areas for me to focus on is my work with the wonderful Corporate Office Solutions (COS) team on adapting to those uncontrollable circumstances that can hit us at any time although I do enjoy the pioneering spirit that the COS team have so navigating this journey through the COVID-19 will definitely be a great learning but also an opportunity to adapt to the inevitable new ways of working and office design. My new adventure with Brainovate has been slightly delayed although we are still setting up the new Business Performance Academy as well as all the other exciting Leadership programmes I, no doubt, will be talking more and more about over the coming weeks!
What do you think would be the keywords of the year for managers in the Business Services industry? Automation? Cutting costs?
I tend to tread carefully with automation as it seems to be something that people will feel inadequate without when, in reality, its really only essential when it makes a measurable impact on YOUR operation and bottom-line through specific advantages to you and your clients. Its rather like buying a new smart phone but only using 30% of its capability so my message is be selective and take time with decisions on automation.
The second area is the ever growing need for emotional intelligence is, I believe, key to be the essential vehicle for the change and re-alignment that will happen together with a new way of working particularly in online communication which, will become more the norm and, indeed, be preferred in many cases to some non-productive, face-2-face meetings.
Tell us a little bit about your private life. Tell us about your passions, family. What do you do to relax?
I arrived in Romania in 2009 on a project and then got asked back by another company and so on and so on until I realised that my destiny lay here.
Having got married last May, my life in Romania has developed unbreakable roots here so my commitment and desire to settle has been confirmed. I do miss my amazing sons, Dan and Matt along with my uniquely incredible Grandson Freddie plus all of my family in England but we find the balance and I hope to be hugging and kissing again soon!
If you were starting now your career, knowing the present and near future opportunities, what would you do? What career would you pursue?
Ooh!, that’s a tough one but I think I would still choose a career that involves helping people and organisations succeed but there is also a little part of me that wanted to be in the hospitality industry. I quite often get frustrated in restaurants in Bucharest that are performing badly thinking “if only I had this place” so maybe we will see Colin’s Café sometime soon!
What are the top 3 skills that you would develop?
More patience, less procrastination and being more task orientated like my Romanian colleagues.
What practical advice would you give to young professionals out there?
Without sounding too much like an old man, I would say “slow down” and don’t expect everything to happen overnight. Anyone can create a company for 500 euros and call themselves the CEO but the quality fulfilment path in life is much longer than that so be prepared to learn, develop and patiently create your career alongside your personal goals for sustainable happiness and the inevitable family commitments. I spent 18 years at one company but had 5 promotional moves throughout that time so we can find our long-term goals without disrupting our lives.
Like a sports person, know your limits and develop yourself to exceed them then be content and happy whilst being proud at the level you are, the person you are and not aim to be someone you definitely wouldn’t be happy with.