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HomeCAREERSTalking with Matei Stanculescu, before SMART HR

Talking with Matei Stanculescu, before SMART HR

Matei Stanculescu is an accredited ACC Coach by the International Coaching Federation, with over 7 years of experience in psychological and vocational counseling for both adults and teenagers. In the corporate sector, Matei is renowned for his workshops, team buildings, trainings, and coaching sessions aimed at performance enhancement, having extensive experience in change management, entrepreneurship, and creative fields such as television, music, education, and improvisational theater.

Together with Anca Amariei, Matei founded Eka Center, the first hub in Romania that integrates services of psychotherapy, well-being, and personal development. Designed as a warm and positive space, the center offers a wide range of services to improve physical, mental, and relational health.

Matei Stanculescu’s clients often face a variety of emotional and mental challenges, ranging from trust issues, emotion management, and performance to anxiety, eating disorders, depression, burnout, and other developmental disorders. These issues are addressed both in individual psychotherapy sessions and through mental fitness coaching, an alternative aimed at quickly resolving emotional and mental problems.

Matei Stanculescu offers a path of personal development through the services provided at Eka Center, aimed at anyone wishing to advance personally and professionally in a supportive and innovative environment.

C&B: How have you managed to find the perfect balance between professional performance and personal development?
Matei Stanculescu: I haven’t. I don’t even believe such a balance exists. I think I’ve just reached a certain harmony between the two. And that’s through all sorts of exercises that help me with disconnecting or balancing, sprinkled throughout the day. Exercises from the Mental Fitness area, which essentially bring peace between the notes so that the day sounds better.

C&B: Which of your innovative approaches in promoting wellbeing at the workplace do you think has had the greatest impact? How would this impact on retention and productivity be measured?
Matei Stanculescu: Promoting and implementing Psychological Safety. It is by far the most important differentiating factor between a weak team and a high-performing one. And for this, we start with the leaders and first facilitate their path to a clear mind and emotional balance. Then we provide them with tools like “First Aid in Mental Health“, so they can identify the needs in their teams and address them healthily. Within a few months, the team dynamics change, and things connect on a much deeper level, which drives retention.

C&B: Can you detail how you chose and structured the mix of benefits to support not just physical health, but also mental and relational health of employees, in general? How do you ensure these benefits remain relevant and appealing to diverse teams?
Matei Stanculescu: For us, it is essential to first understand the real needs within the organizations we start with. Then, we focus on the individual, and here the beauty is that we can find personalized solutions (I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions). When we are individually well, through workshops, team-building, coaching, or other group sessions, we shift our attention to the group. The style of leadership we advocate involves active listening, assertiveness, empathy, attention to the group’s needs, vulnerability, and the power of example.

C&B: As an expert in storytelling and public speaking, how do you integrate these skills into your role to inspire and motivate employees? Do you have a memorable example of a story you used to unite a team during a time of uncertainty?
Matei Stanculescu: I avoid telling stories, no matter how motivational they might be. That’s because no matter how good the story is and how well I tell it, the effect will be very short-lived. To produce a medium and long-term change in a person or a team, it’s essential that the “aha” moment comes from within. So instead of telling a good story, I prefer to facilitate an authentic group discussion, which moves something at least in one member. From that point, we can consider that the whole dynamic changes.

C&B: How do you use your leadership skills, such as emotional intelligence and empathy, to navigate through times of uncertainty? Do you have a concrete example where these qualities helped you turn a challenge into an opportunity?
Matei Stanculescu: I think this is the full-time job of an entrepreneur. And challenges are daily. If I do something well, it is always being understanding with myself. I rarely reproach myself for not doing things well enough or enough. I am empathetic with my own needs and limits. Automatically, I apply the same thinking algorithm towards others. Specifically, I recently said “yes” to a client and later realized that in terms of financial energy and return on investment, I was at a loss. What should I do, back out and thicken my skin, or deliver with frustration? Thinking that I could still extract some good from this, I was transparent with the client and proposed a barter in their line of business. This helped me develop a business area I had not covered at all, to deliver wholeheartedly, and to face a client who appreciated the openness, understood the value of the services I provide better, and I felt that we both gained.

C&B: In your view, how will the future of work change, and what will be the role of HR in this continuously evolving landscape? What steps do you think leaders and HR professionals should take to prepare for this future?
Matei Stanculescu: AI and automation help us save more and more time by taking over repetitive tasks. As for HR, I truly hope this means more time for one-on-one discussions, focus on learning, and searching for real benefits for employees. The upcoming generations are more aware of the importance of personal development and self-work than all previous ones. This means that employers who focus on psychological safety, a growth mindset, and coaching as a management style will benefit the most.

C&B: You will be conducting a workshop at the SMART HR event. Can you tell us why people should attend this event and even your workshop?
Matei Stanculescu: In every profession, there are passionate people who seek continuous development and are thirsty for networking and knowledge, but there are also robots who just watch the clock to break the door at the office when the day is over. I think HR enthusiasts have too few such opportunities a year to afford missing an event of the size of SMART HR. As for the Mental Fitness workshop, I will just leave a few testimonials to speak for themselves. And after you read them, you can decide if you want to register:

Romanita Iovan, fashion designer: I discovered how to identify my saboteurs and how to make them work for me. I’ve become more accommodating, patient, and calm. I managed to better organize my professional activity, giving more credit to those around me and discovering new opportunities. For me, this program came as a gift of the year 2020.
Manuela Banu, CEO, Orkla Foods Romania: The course provided me with a new, simple, and clear perspective on how our minds work and gave me access to easy-to-assimilate tools. Perhaps even more importantly, it helped me introduce new routines into my daily life.
Alexandra Peligrad, CEO, Smartree Romania:Go for it, it definitely gives you a plus at the end, even if only for the AHA moments about how the mind works in various situations and where our negative emotions come from. I have come to quickly recognize negative feelings and reduce them, thinking that these are Saboteurs I want to avoid.”

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