Living and working in Romania – a foreigner’s experience
Hai Acasă! is a core project for LSRS, due to the fact that it aims to fulfill one of the League’s missions, namely to bring Romanian students, graduates and companies together and create opportunities for those who study or have studied abroad to come back home and apply here what they learnt during University years. Consequently, it is highly important for this project to highlight the true colors of working in Romania as an ambitious youngster of our generation, including here the challenges and hidden jams of this experience.
This year, LSRS got the amazing opportunity to work with Veeam, a people-oriented software company that activates in Romania since 2015. So, as part of our collaboration, the team behind Hai Acasă! had the opportunity to meet Ksenia Fadeeva, a 28 years old enthusiastic Russian. Ksenia is currently working as an Associate Manager in the Renewals department that handles the Italian market within Veeam Romania, in Bucharest and LSRS had the pleasure to hear the story behind her Romanian experience in a 40 minutes interview.
LSRS: So, I want to start by asking you some things about yourself. Where do you come from in terms of career background and what brought you to Romania?
K: I did my studies in Saint Petersburg and I chose the faculty of tourism. My idea was to learn foreign languages and make them more practical, let’s say, somehow attached to the real life. The idea was good in theory, but it didn’t match the reality, because my studies weren’t that practical.
So, during my fourth year, I decided that it was time to gain some work experience, because everybody expects you to already have 5 years of work experience when you graduate. So, I wanted to do something with foreign languages, as in my fourth year, I was already studying Italian for three years and had already went to Italy a couple of times for studies, so I was speaking well. Also, I had already started French at that point. In consequence, I found a job in a hotel, which I had for less than a year. It was a very good work experience, because it helped me a lot with languages.
Afterwards, I decided to do an Erasmus study mobility in France, cause I wanted to improve French a little bit and then, I came back for my last year of University and found another job in a hotel, which I had for a bit less than a year.
After that, I went to Switzerland for four months to work in the same hotel where I worked in Russia, but this time in the Swiss mountains.
Then, I tried to find a job in the EU, but as it’s not that easy for a Russian to get a work visa in the EU, I came back to Russia and Veeam popped up. It was a great opportunity to practice the languages I knew and even though it is an IT company, no technical expertise was required, a fact which attracted me a lot. At that time, I had like 4 or 5 interviews, but this process was simplified in time and now in Romania we have 3 stages: HR, language check and the final interview which lasts an hour and a half. So, this is how I ended up in Veeam.
LSRS: How come you came to work in Romania?
K: So, I’m in Veeam for 3 years and a half in total and I am here for 1 year. Initially, I was working in Saint Petersburg, but I really wanted to go somewhere else. After my training period which lasted three months, this office in Bucharest had been opened, so a few colleagues had to go there and pass the corporate culture to the new people.
I wasn’t chosen then, because I was also new. I was quite sad, especially because I had spent a few moths looking for jobs in the EU after Switzerland and I realized that if I had come earlier to Veeam, maybe I would’ve been chosen to go to Bucharest.
After approximately one more year, our management team decided to change the company’s strategy. As it is quite difficult to find people who speak Southern European languages in Russia, we, who spoke them, had to choose between relocating to Romania or switching the departments and working for Northern countries from Saint Petersburg. For me, that was the opportunity I was waiting for from the beginning.
I had never been to Romania before, so I didn’t have any expectations. However, I asked the colleagues who already worked or were here for business trips and they all said it was a very comfortable place where you could work, the people were very nice and it was very easy to hire people here, as there were a lot of candidates to choose from; the profile is very good here. Some of the candidates already have a good amount of work experience and don’t require that much training.
At that time, in Saint Petersburg was quite challenging to find people with good Italian. So, from what I had been told, it was a very comfortable place for living, the country was much smaller than Russia, which helped a lot with travelling, the food was very good, and the prices were not that high. Basically, here the transition was very easy. Also, the culture has many similarities for me, so it wasn’t that challenging. We have an office in Malaysia and I guess that kind of adaptation to something completely new is very hard. Here, even the language intonation, which is similar to Russian, was a benefit for me, so I decided to give Romania a try.
When I came, I had quite a nice surprise. For example, almost every Uber driver could speak English, a thing you won’t find in Russia. The public transportation and other small things were better than I was used to. The people were nice, in a very honest way, which you can feel.
So, it’s been a year and I’m now in the process of renewing my contract.
LSRS: What you explained is more than I expected. It’s nice to hear this kind of things from a foreigner, especially because we, as a nation, think generally low of ourselves. How do you perceive the cultural life of Bucharest and its environment? Do you feel integrated in it?
K: I’m not fond of nights out in general and I’d prefer to answer the question regarding the country in general, because since I have arrived here, I got the chance to travel a bit around Romania. I’ve been to Sibiu, to Brasov, to Sighisoara, Azuga, Sinaia; I’ve been to Peles, to Bran, to the seaside. And I really like that you have lots of stuff to visit, which are close to each other and not expensive. You have this Pensiunea, which is everywhere, and you can make a really nice weekend holiday.
In my hometown, if you go 100 km in any direction, you’ll get in the middle of the forest. Here, it’s easy to find whatever you want to do, the seaside, the mountains, horse riding, whatever you want.
About Bucharest itself, I like very much that you appreciate your own culture and try to maintain it. For example, in Russia we don’t go for Russian restaurants, as they are only for tourists and very pricey. And there are a lot of nice cozy places around, like bars and cafes and I like the variety of places where you can go out. You have the diversity, the possibility to choose almost everything you want here.
And as I said, you can feel very comfortable, even if you don’t speak Romanian. I was doing squash and crossfit here and everybody is so welcoming and they are switching to English whenever a foreigner is in the group.
LSRS: What’s your opinion about youngsters here? How do you feel about the Romanian youth, from a personal and professional point of view?
K: The most of young people I interact with are my colleagues and our average age in the Bucharest office is around 28, so a lot of us are in our 20s. What I like here and that I find very different to Southern countries, like Italy, is that young people are mature and very serious about what they do. At our age, we should know what to do and how to perceive life and it’s very good to work with adults and not with kids. Most people here have this kind of mindset, which I really appreciate.
LSRS: You mentioned your colleagues. Are they, or all of you as a team, welcoming with the newbies? How is it when a new person comes to work at Veeam? What’s the dynamic like?
K: This is a very funny question. We, Russians, are colder and don’t usually kiss or hug when we see each other. Here, I saw that when a newbie comes, everyone stands up to say welcome and starts kissing and hugging them. I got used to it and I think it’s quite nice. So, at Veeam when someone new comes, we are waiting for them, because they need to be taught and trained.
Also, because we trust each other, we also trust the person who recruited that newbie, so we except a nice person to join the team. So, when they come everybody is so excited. Also, because we are quite a bunch of us in the office, we celebrate a lot of birthdays, so the newbie has the chance to see one quite soon and join the gift sharing and La multi ani singing. I’m still not very much used to it; usually, I’m just clapping. Here is different from the Russian office and we celebrate each new comer.
LSRS: How does a day at Veeam look like?
K: I think pretty much like in many companies. People are chatting a lot, go outside for a cup of tea or to relax a bit. I really like this, it helps people to bond and I also like seeing how people are getting closer to each other, including newbies. I’m an introvert myself and it really helps when people invite you to join them. We are also having lunches together from time to time in our kitchen or outside the office.
LSRS: Are there many international people in this Veeam office in Bucharest?
K: I don’t know exact numbers, but out of 400 people in total in the office, we are about 40 Russians and will be more soon. Also, we have some Poles, Czechs, Turks, Arabs, Italians, one Brazilian, one Swedish.
Romania is a popular place for Poles and Czechs to come and work in, I guess because of the similarities between the countries. We are provided with Romanian language courses, too.
The Italians were a surprise for me, because I knew that a lot of Romanians go to work in Italy. Maybe, 20/30% of my colleagues have their parents working in Italy, while they are still here. I found out that this is because in the Italian IT industry, the wages are very similar to here, while the expenses are much higher. So that’s why we also have a lot of Italians here.
We also have a Spanish newbie since last week. It’s a multinational environment. If you work on a certain market, you can always get help from a person who comes from that country. You won’t find this in Russia.
LSRS: I know that you guys use to travel quite a bit for business trips. Is that right?
K: Yes, but this depends on the department you work in. That’s a normal thing for the Sales department, but for my department, the Renewals department it’s not that common, because there is no business value in it.
However, there are other travelling opportunities. We have this big event, called kick off, where the values and achievements of the company are discussed and that ends with a party. It happens in one place, so, for example, there’s a kick off for the Bucharest office, one for the Saint Petersburg office and so on and Veeam people around the world that work with that office meet up and get to know each other.
Also, there’s a big kick off for the whole company worldwide and some people from each office get the chance to participate.
But, regarding the international interaction, you will have it anyway, because of the nature of our business and all the work and calls we have with people around the world.
LSRS: That sounds like a very nice environment and I think these opportunities are very important for our generation.
K: Yeah, 10 years ago I couldn’t have imagined that now I’d be working in some place, where I speak English every day. I remember that, back to when I was in school, if we had had a foreign visitor, it would’ve been something very strange, but now in just 10 years’ time I’m in this super multinational working place.
Ksenia will also join the webinar LSRS and Veeam Romania will host together on 15th of May and provide more information about Veeam’s environment and opportunities, alongside her colleagues.
This interview was conducted by Andrada Ionescu, Communication Vice-president.