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Octavian-Constantin Olaru, Executive Director of Annabella Retail: Established businesses with history and capital will withstand; the new ones… quite challenging.

Octavian-Constantin Olaru, Executive in Retail, Human Resources, Administration, Logistics, and Inventory Management for almost 10 years. For eight years, between 2012 and 2020, he worked for a top multinational (Lidl Romania), and from 2020 to the present, for the 100% Romanian retailer, Annabella Retail. He kindly answered a few questions for us, and we took the opportunity to discover interesting aspects of his life and career.

C&B: Provide a description or definition of your activity!

Octavian-Constantin Olaru: My activity is oriented towards the operational part of the Annabella retail network, from optimizing processes in Sales, Recruitment, Training, and Development within the Human Resources department to the logistic processes in Annabella’s warehouses. I am responsible for planning, monitoring, and achieving the performance indicators of the retail network. In broad terms, I act as a business decision-making partner for the General Director and Deputy General Director.

C&B: What is the story of your career?

Octavian-Constantin Olaru: I started my career 11 years ago, in January 2011, in Lidl Germany, as Sales Manager Trainee, where I prepared for the opening of Lidl Romania and the takeover of the former Plus stores. Until 2016, I held various leadership positions within Lidl Romania – as Administrative and HR Department Director, and later as Sales Director. In 2017, I entered an international development program for the Regional Director position, holding the position of Sales Director at Lidl Northern Ireland – responsible for the sales operations of Lidl stores in Belfast and surroundings.

In 2018, I returned to Romania, where I held the position of Regional Director of the Lidl Logistics Center in Chiajna, responsible for 58 Lidl stores, a team of 8 department directors, and 22 managers.

In my 9 years of national and international experience in a company like Lidl, I had the opportunity to develop both as a leader and as a person. I developed my career and matured along with Lidl Romania.

Inevitably, I encountered various people along the way who positively influenced me, people who showed me other ways to develop, to build a career.

The first ones are my parents, who guided and supported me to finish college and then had the patience to let me find the right path.

The next ones I met during college, and from them, I received guidance and motivation to learn more, to ‘pull myself,’ and now some of them are my best friends.

An essential role in my career was played by Lidl and the people there. All my superiors, Romanians or foreigners, during my 9 years in the multinational, left their mark on how I work and think.

However, the most crucial role was played by my wife. She unconditionally supported me at every stage of my career and in every decision I made regarding my career.

In February 2020, I made the decision to leave Lidl and embrace a new experience at Annabella Retail – a 100% Romanian retailer led by Dorina and Dan Mutu.

All these events and these people guided my steps further towards what I am now.

C&B: What were your visions in childhood/adolescence, and what are they now?

Octavian-Constantin Olaru: In childhood, I dreamed of becoming an actor and playing theater. Later, during adolescence, I thought I would become a police officer – it was a trend at that time, aspiring to a secure, stable, and future-oriented career, and the Police Academy seemed like the ideal place to ensure that stability.

The chance of my life was knowing the German language from high school, which led me to the Faculty of Foreign Languages, and then I realized that I wanted to use this in my future career – the knowledge of the German language.

Immediately after graduating from college, I went to Austria, and after 3 years of living in Vienna, I knew that this is what I have to do – to use my acquired knowledge abroad (in a German company) in Romania.

C&B: How has the Pandemic Crisis influenced/affected your activity, and what conclusions have resulted?

Octavian-Constantin Olaru: For me, the last 2 years have been challenging. I had to adapt to a traditional business, different from the one in a multinational, and at the same time, we had to adapt to the atypical working conditions during the pandemic.

The rules changed from day to day, and no previous experience prepared us for such difficult times, I could say.

The fear of the unknown, staffing planning in shifts that should not overlap, people’s trust, and their motivation – these were examples that were a real challenge. However, we adapted quite quickly.

We had the advantage of a business area where we could make decisions easily, without much internal debate, so the entire commercial activity was carried out under normal and safe conditions for everyone involved.

Personally, I realized how important local business partnerships are in difficult times, how much trust and mutual respect matter within the team and in the Romanian business environment.

C&B: What advice do you have for those at the beginning or undecided?

Octavian-Constantin Olaru: For those at the beginning, I would advise them not to compromise, not to work in toxic environments, regardless of the traps of some benefits coated with gold or quick gains.

For the undecided, I encourage them to find happiness at work, not just at home. If they feel they are not in the right place, they should look for an alternative – it exists.

C&B: Please provide your own definition for society, business, and careers in Romania!

Octavian-Constantin Olaru: I think the V.U.C.A acronym fits very well for society, business, and careers in Romania.

Volatility, for example, the increase in prices on everything has been the subject of many discussions lately, everywhere in the world, and especially in Romania in recent months.

Uncertainty – the lack of predictability, the lack of a sense of awareness and understanding of problems and events, both economic, health-related, and political, make us wonder: are the decisions we make, in our careers or in business, the right ones?

Complexity and the volume of information are enormous for those who want to start a business or consolidate their current one. It is quite complicated to set clear benchmarks both in a career and in business.

Ambiguity – we don’t know what the future holds for us, neither economically nor politically. Established businesses with history and capital will withstand, the new ones… quite challenging.

Clearly, the future is uncertain, but I strongly believe in the Latin proverb ‘Fortune favors the bold’ – it fits our generation very well.



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