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HomeCAREERSNomination for HR Ambassador (SMART HR Event) – Today, Alina Racariu

Nomination for HR Ambassador (SMART HR Event) – Today, Alina Racariu

Alina Răcariu is one of the six nominees in the final stage of the HR Ambassador competition, organized with the support of SMART HR Event. The voting session will take place “live” during the 9th Edition of the SMART HR Event, which will be held on May 23rd and 24th.

C&B: Tell us about your professional journey. What drew you to the field of human resources?

Alina Racariu: I’ve always considered myself an atypical HR person until I realized that this should be the norm, this is how it should actually be. By that, I mean that I’ve never “practiced” in a silo or within the dynamics of a support department, but rather from the midst of the business, building and working shoulder to shoulder to achieve goals through people and teams.

Since I was studying psychology, I chose to bring impact and value to the way we work, and my journey has been shaped around who I am strongest as a professional: a builder. That’s why my experience has been concentrated around startups, scale-ups, whether as an employee or consultant, building from scratch, in full growth mode, to the consolidation phase.

I function best in moments of scaling and construction – when things settle down, it means it’s time for me to move on to something else.

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?

Alina Racariu: I believe we are still in a state of change, and I can’t wait to see where we’re heading. What stands out to me is the shift from being a support department to being a business partner. More importantly, there seems to be a clear separation in mindset between HR areas and the expectations each of these areas fulfills.

The overall change in the role in the market hasn’t had a direct impact on me, but I acknowledge that I’ve felt transitions in how people relate to me when entering into a professional relationship over time: from expecting me to carry out tasks to realizing that I am, in fact, a partner; from “delivering paperwork” to delivering experiences, but most importantly, from “people are your responsibility” to “help me manage my people better.”

The thread can continue, but what helped me quickly push aside these preconceptions was the initial contract: you, as a leader, are entirely responsible for building and managing the team towards performance; these responsibilities are by no means optional tasks to delegate to someone else.

We still have a long way to go before we put this profession where it brings the most value, but we’re on the path, and that’s reassuring. I’m also glad that it’s within our control, all of us, to change the perception of the people we work with and show them a different kind of HR. They don’t know what it could look like; it’s up to us to bring them a different perspective.

I believe another thing that has happened in recent years is that businesses have understood the need for HR and have started to integrate it into the company’s life earlier and earlier.

Because this need has grown quickly, the HR talent market has experienced inflation, developing faster than the capacity of growth and specialization of the professionals within it. Thus, it has also somewhat diluted and weakened trust. I would also add that we are still in the stage where we believe that if we have covered this role, we no longer need investments in technology, tools, resources, and even learning. The HR department must fend for itself, right?

Naturally and fortunately, we are starting to separate roles, moving from “HR does everything for everyone” to a focus on growth, but more importantly, on the accountability of leaders and the impact, the value they bring to building high-performing teams. Only in this way will we achieve real partnership.

C&B: Is there a HR initiative or project that you are particularly proud of? What challenges did you face, and what did you learn from this experience?

Alina Racariu: By far, the most valuable projects are those built around performance and culture. These are the two dimensions that can influence everything and bring coherence and continuity to other processes. I can’t talk about isolated initiatives for retention, engagement, recruitment, compensation and benefits, training, and people development without having performance at the center.

The performance management projects I’ve implemented didn’t start from the desire to evaluate people, or if they did start from here, I directed them towards building healthy and sustainable cultures. Growing people through the levers and performance contexts we provide leads to the growth of companies and returns value to people in a continuous cycle, in a reciprocal relationship that brings meaning and value to companies, starting from the people who develop them.

Change management, educating people, and their real involvement have been the challenges I continuously had to respond to throughout the process. Of course, you encounter resistance at the beginning when you haven’t yet managed to show others the value and benefit of what you propose to happen, and beyond showing them, they haven’t yet had the chance to experience it and feel the effects.

So, you take your patience as an ally because I’ve learned each time that people need it too, and the post-feedback moments create fantastic energy and enthusiasm of the “I want to do, where do we start?” kind. If they don’t know that at the beginning of the project, be patient with them until they get there.

C&B: How do you approach diversity and inclusion management within the organization? Could you give us a concrete example?

Alina Racariu: Firstly, I define these dimensions more broadly than the separation into classical categories of groups, the first ones that come to mind when you think of D&I. For us, they extend to being attentive to our colleagues who are parents, those who need time to manage their health, those who work completely remotely, as well as the fact that we are a multicultural company and have colleagues in multiple countries, which brings differences even in holidays, celebrations, and the language we communicate in.

Secondly, we start right from recruitment. I ensure that we consider diversity when managing the pipeline and filter applications using only the skills and experience we are looking for.

We have a flexible working program because, beyond a fixed and stable schedule, it’s the results that matter, and that gives our colleagues the peace of mind that they can manage their specific, personal situations without being locked into a strict schedule.

We have a healthy distribution in terms of age, gender, whether we’re talking about the entire team or the management team. We have cultural diversity due to having colleagues in multiple countries, and the number of cultures will increase in the future.

Furthermore, it’s a continuous effort to bring all people together, to make them feel an integral part, included, whether they work remotely from their country or in the international local offices. We bring them together through our online rituals, through “just having fun” initiatives, games, newsletters, celebrating wins together, and thanking and praising each other for success.

C&B: What are the main qualities you consider essential for an HR specialist nowadays?

Alina Racariu: Resilience. Because, if done well, it’s not an easy job. It’s hard to become a real business partner and be in the midst of so many different perspectives that you have to make work together to achieve the same goal.

I believe that, above all, we need to be good facilitators, to create the platform where both people and companies can achieve their goals together. We adjust the elements of the relationship so that they make sense for both parties.

Adaptability. We can’t afford not to be flexible, as we manage changes every day, and in many situations, we are their catalyst.

Strategic thinking, to understand, anticipate, build, and integrate impact throughout the organization. Strategy, no matter how cold it may sound, brings depth if implemented correctly.

C&B: How do you see the future of work, and what is the role of HR in shaping this future?

Alina Racariu: I believe we are already in the future, just at its beginning. Certain trends are starting to take shape, and it would be wise to prepare in advance, with intention. We’re talking about new generations seeking meaning and asking “whys” and “what’s in it for me,” who will meet and work with generations that find it difficult to adopt this new perspective. Here, we need to adapt organizations entirely to “new ways of working,” and we’ll play a role as facilitators, taking the time to deeply understand the new generation and finding means to adapt organizations to them.

Jobs are changing so much, and so many new ones are emerging that what we considered stable and “by the book” becomes only a small part of the job spectrum. It would be wonderful if we understood now the need to granularize jobs, which will no longer be role-based job descriptions but person-based. Each individual has a unique set of skills, in competence blocks that you work with more easily, plan more easily, and develop more easily. Our role here is to adapt and redesign organizational structures. “Learning and Development” is starting to regain its place after a few years of uncertainty.

I believe transferable skills will soon become crucial, especially as these transformations occur, because only based on them can we maintain coherence and adapt and redirect people. In this way, careers have begun a transformation process in recent years, from linearity to fluidity. What we believed about a CV in the past may not mean the same thing now.

Here, our role in recruitment may shift from simple selection to “career coaching.” It may become increasingly difficult for people to decide what they want/can/know to do and what role suits them because roles will no longer be as predictable.

Of course, we cannot ignore remote work and the ongoing effort to adapt, integrate, and refine it, beyond today’s struggle where each party tries to obtain absolute truth by answering the question: “Is it good, is it not good?

C&B: What advice do you have for companies regarding adapting to the new challenges in the world of work?

Alina Racariu: Building a strong and sustainable culture, focused on performance, will provide them with everything they need to prepare their business for the future and for any challenges they will encounter in the labor market. I don’t think I can emphasize this strategy enough, and I don’t want to complicate it with explanations.

Culture and performance. These are the two tools they need. Not just to adapt, but to reach exactly where they want and even further than they can see now.

C&B: If you had unlimited resources, what program or initiative would you implement to improve employee well-being?

Alina Racariu: Performance management :). Placing it at the center of all HR processes, it impacts the entire employee journey, from talent attraction to the selection process, onboarding, talent management, and development.

We bring in the right people, whom we meet expectations or needs for which they joined our mission. We provide them with all the tools, framework, atmosphere, team, and challenges necessary to perform, explore, grow, be seen, and appreciated.

Before all of these, I would invest in leaders to make them feel comfortable and equipped to transform this process into an intimate and transparent one, by building trust relationships. Trust that we not only evaluate people but also build around what we found out to ensure we have a successful team. In other words, what happens after evaluation is more important than the evaluation itself.

C&B: Why did you apply for this competition, and why do you think you should win?

Alina Racariu: I increasingly feel the need to contribute to the community, to be an agent of change. Generally, I don’t allow myself to complain if I don’t act or intervene to change what I can. I’ve already gained a platform where I can express my ideas, and I’ve collected a whole collection of experiences and satisfactions that brought me to the decision to participate: why not? And if not now, then when?



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