Dana Ionescu is the Head of Legal at Adecco Romania, a company she has been with since October 2013. Previously, she worked as the Legal Affairs Coordinator and HR Business Partner for Rosegur from 2010 to 2013. Earlier still, she was a Senior Legal Consultant with Realitatea-Catavencu, a Legal Manager with the Dacris Group, a Legal Manager and HR Business Partner with Phoenica Grand Hotel, and a Legal Advisor with the Romanian Ministry of Transportation, in the External Financial Relations Directorate.
Please tell our readers a bit about your career leading up to your current role.
D.I.: My career has been like a roller-coaster ride so far, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. It’s been shaped by the people I’ve met, mentors I’ve had, and, eventually, me. The chain of opportunities and experiences in different fields of activity took me from European structural funds to television and from private security to HR.
I have never planned any of my career moves. I don’t have such a perfectionist gene in me, rather more along the lines of a “let’s jump off the cliff, I am sure I can handle it” gene. And so far, it’s been very interesting and challenging.
You’ve been with Adecco for over two years now. In what ways do you find your role is different working with a human resources services provider from your past experiences?
D.I.: I have always had to reinvent my job in light of legislative changes and organizational needs. That’s what’s kept me alive. I like the rush of adrenaline that any major change brings. It motivates me. So I chose to work in companies that could offer me this thrill. And none of these companies disappointed me from this point of view.
Is working in HR services different from other services? The legislation is different, but anything else is not. Adrenaline level in HR services? Still very high.
Can you give us an example of such a change that got your blood flowing in the last few years and what you had to do to adapt?
D.I.: The most dramatic change for me was when I joined a private security company (the third biggest in the country at that time). It was a stressful work environment, with a highly compliance-oriented culture and extremely formal communication between colleagues. However, with the guidance of a former secret services colleague from whom I received some life lessons, I tamed my way of being and working and integrated myself in the company. It turned out to be one of the greatest workplaces for me.
Even before working with Adecco, you held various roles involving working as an HR business partner within the legal team. What drew you towards HR?
D.I.: Fate! It just so happened that I’ve met the most amazing HR directors in the companies I worked in, so I spent a lot of time in their offices brainstorming for best legal solutions to fit the HR problems. That is how I realized legal and HR is a match made in heaven. And I intend to stay in this “legal-HR marriage” for a long time.
Besides, you know what they say: “Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for it.” So far, this has worked for me.
How does your regular day in the office look? What areas take up the most of your time?
D.I.: Let me assure you that no two days are the same in a legal department, but all the days have something in common: emails and calls. There are days in which there is some “firefighting” to be done and days in which emails and calls put everything in place. I have to admit I’m fortunate to do something I love, and I cannot complain that I have a regular job with a mind-numbing routine.
You mentioned you also provide advice at times for Adecco’s clients. What are the main areas where that happens?
D.I.: Adecco Romania has clients ranging from the IT field to automotive, from agriculture to tobacco. We provide them legal and HR consultancy, tailor-made for their field of activity, based on our extensive expertise. For our legal team, being exposed to so many complex legal issues is a gold mine from a professional point of view, as we get to stay up to date with all fields of activity. I believe that the clients learn from us, and we learn from them. It’s a win-win partnership.
In light of your focus, if you could change any one thing related to labor law in Romania, what would it be, and why?
D.I.: In my opinion, there is still some work to be done regarding the equal protection of both the employer and employees so that companies are encouraged to employ more people and the employees feel more safe in terms of their rights being respected. Also, we could all benefit from updating the Labor Code with the latest business and society challenges and needs.
Would you say there are enough regulations towards improving work-life balance? What would you add towards enhancing this?
D.I.: I’m pretty sure there is no perfect, one-size-fits-all, work-life balance. Thus, there are no secret recipes that any regulation can bring on the table. So let’s not require a regulation to take care of what people can do. This balance is only up to us, how we position ourselves and how we convince others what is important to us. This is no simple task, I know. Someone smart once said that the most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.
Personally, I am not a “married to the job” kind of person, but rather a “work smarter, not harder or longer” type. Productivity in my profession should be given by efficient work and passion, not by long hours.
On the lighter side, in our research for this interview we came across a rather active blog that you run. Tell us a bit about this exercise.
D.I.: Oh, you found out about www.danaionescu.ro! Well, most of my friends are career addicts with no children, and the few that do have children are really serious when talking about them. So I felt the need to show them the funny side of a parent’s life. After that, the blogging evening sessions started – my everyday ten-minute escape from everything. Just me and my laptop, laughing by myself when writing about my kids and my job – and everything in between. I’m planning to get the best out of my life, and I think that laughing is the best life can offer (besides chocolate, of course), so I’m going for it.
This Article was originally published in Issue 3.4 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.