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HomeCAREERSHR Ambassador Nominations (SMART HR Event) – Today, Anda Marina Serban

HR Ambassador Nominations (SMART HR Event) – Today, Anda Marina Serban

Anda Marina Serban is one of the six finalists nominated in the final phase of the HR Ambassador contest, organized with the support of the SMART HR Event. The voting session will take place “live” during the 9th edition of the SMART HR event, which will occur on May 23 and 24.

C&B: Tell us about your career path. What attracted you to the field of human resources?
Anda Marina Serban: My path has been somewhat atypical. I studied at Nicolae Kretzulescu Economic High School, then at the Faculty of Geography and Tourism at the University of Bucharest, followed by about a year as a foreign language assistant teacher in the United Kingdom. Upon returning, I continued my formal education by enrolling in the Master’s program in International Economic Relations at ASE, in English. I did not anticipate these fields, but each one made the most sense to me at its time. Later, I understood how beautifully everything integrated into HR, how important it was in the puzzle I was building, this whole exposure to different people, fields, and cultures. I firmly believe that all these contributed to my understanding today. Recently, I answered the question: “Do interactions with people drain or energize you?” For me, they definitely energize me. I have accumulated at least 4000 hours of interviewing during which I’d like to believe that all the psychology and human analysis have inspired me and led to new development stages. People have inspired me to say “yes” or occasionally “no” in my own growth. Moreover, I have continuously received confirmations that I stand out positively.
HR means so much: Recruitment, OD, L&D, Employer Branding sometimes, Retention, Admin, Performance, etc., that although I always kept my main trajectory, I constantly assimilated information, and that has kept me loyal.

C&B: How do you think the role of HR has changed in recent years and what impact have these changes had on your profession?
Anda Marina Serban: When I entered HR, things were much simpler. It was enough to be responsible, informed, to have a good understanding of the field, to ask the right questions, and you would achieve the desired results. The transition to HR was done with some ease, being considered an accessible field. 14 years later, I can say that HR is in many ways, but it is not easy. You have to consider a vast array of aspects: digitization and explaining its benefits, GDPR, political correctness, lack of prejudice, the very dynamic market dynamics, which impact engagement, transparency of information that must be reflected in HR policies and procedures, different motivational factors behind each generation to adapt discussions and presentations, so we remain relevant, a very good market knowledge, and networking.
HR has finally earned its place at the strategic discussion table. I remember being told in the job interview that the role was very important for management, with recruitment being considered strategic, and I felt that we were moving to a new beneficial stage for everyone.

C&B: Is there an HR initiative or project that you are particularly proud of? What challenges did you face and what have you learned from this experience?
Anda Marina Serban: I am proud of everything I have achieved. For every “thank you for the feedback” given, for supporting the development of those around me, beyond my own interests, for the high-engagement training sessions, for the clarity brought by improving or creating workflows. However, the projects with the most significant impact were those in which, along with a few colleagues, we created new digital functionalities for the global ATS for a greatly improved experience for candidates, hiring managers, and recruiters. It was intense, long-term work, but the results led to a much-desired efficiency in every user’s interaction with the platform. I also enjoyed participating in other digitization initiatives, such as integrating electronic signatures into all HR workflows and implementing, as a test, a chatbot for mass selection processes.

C&B: How do you approach managing diversity and inclusion within the organization? Can you provide a specific example?
Anda Marina Serban: I believe it is part of who I am to accept differences. This probably shaped up through many intercultural experiences as well. I’ve traveled for tourism purposes across Europe, Asia, and America. I’ve learned to accept and integrate differences as part of each of our authentic selves. As far as I’m concerned, I make my own decisions, so why shouldn’t those around me do the same? Moreover, sometimes it’s not even about choices, but about situations we find ourselves in or the contexts we were born into. There have been times when being inclusively spirited differentiated me and brought benefits, although as a result, not as an end. People appreciated it. Additionally, in teams, it’s known that a more diverse mix is beneficial for collective growth. I have numerous examples of accomplished professionals despite superficial appearances. However, I’ve also had difficulties over time convincing recruitment partners of these aspects, and the solution I saw was to create and deliver training sessions on avoiding biases. I have many successful examples after removing labels. I am a supporter of inclusion policies, whether global or local, and outside the organization, I often take time to learn about and commend specific Diversity and Inclusion initiatives.

C&B: What are the main qualities you consider essential for an HR specialist today?
Anda Marina Serban: I would start with People Advocacy, then continue with Digital Agility (to be capable of rapid development and digital innovation), Adaptability (to a continuously dynamic future), Analytical Thinking (data is sometimes the best argument), Creativity (for differentiation), and Ambition (to consider oneself best suited to solve or manage even the most complex requests).

C&B: How do you see the future of work and what role does HR play in shaping this future?
Anda Marina Serban: HR can no longer be rigid. Its role in shaping the future is precisely to integrate, be responsive, and flexible. Each team needs a good mix of change advocates and change resistors. Organizations increasingly need early adopters to keep pace with addressed needs, and I am not referring only to management roles, where the expectation was already there, but also including specialist/expert roles. The pressure on HR is great, but this also indicates the significant impact the department has as soon as it receives business support.

C&B: What advice do you have for companies regarding adapting to the new challenges in the world of work?
Anda Marina Serban: Rather a statement: “Old methods will not lead to new or better results.” Differentiate positively, exist as brands, communicate transparently, and retain through their own organizational culture. Pay great attention to psychological safety as the primary need for fulfillment. Constantly take the pulse both internally and externally. Adaptability is one of the competencies of the future, so organizations must adapt their requirements, products, and services to remain competitive. Creating new jobs is part of adaptation. Creating learning opportunities internally if the requirements are very specific and such a skill set is not easily found externally. Retaining talent and performers. The experience of the candidate, user, and customer must be easy. Customer support, intuitive. Maintaining a climate where well-being, amusement, and good mood are the norm. Create contexts that nourish the creative spirit where innovation is significant.

C&B: If you had unlimited resources, what program or initiative would you implement to improve employee well-being?
Anda Marina Serban: As much development-oriented work as possible, as little repetitive as possible. Specifically, conducting a task radiography, eliminating those that do not add value to the individual, and creating layered upskilling programs. In short, internal training and reconversions in an organized environment. The support provided by organizations is highly appreciated by employees. When they are open to change, and the company provides the framework and guides them towards improvement, it creates the best form of engagement, retention, and loyalty. When employees feel valued, impressive results appear.

C&B: Why did you apply for this contest, and why do you think you should win?
Anda Marina Serban: Our path to “I did it” is paved with many “I cannot do it,” as Adam Grant says. Every success I’ve had was preceded by hesitations, yet the possibility of celebrating afterward always gave me the courage not to give up on what I set out to do. The same was true this time. It started with the trust of those around me, coupled with my results so far, and continued with the conviction that my passion and ethics bring a benefit to the field. I have always been guided by the desire to provide quality in every interaction, I have always cared about the experience offered. Sometimes a particular success, a project, a difficult fit, or an idea might have highlighted me, but throughout this path towards achievements, which happened as an effect and not necessarily as objectives, there was a present desire to have a positive impact, to contribute to a general perception that would honor the HR field.

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