In conversation with Ioana Ioanas

Headshot of IoanaFrom marketing to reporting, volunteering to award-winning, we spoke to Ioana Ioanas (BSc Hons Business Management, Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 2022) about the various roles she has undertaken during her studies and since graduating.

Congratulations on your first work anniversary at global professional services firm, Genpact EMEA! Please tell us about your Senior Process Associate and Digital Reporter roles and what you enjoy most about them?

Thank you so much! It’s truly astonishing how quickly a year has passed since I became a part of this wonderful company. Time indeed flies when you’re engaged in work you’re passionate about!

As I always like to say, at Genpact, I wear two distinct hats. As a Senior Process Associate, I immerse myself in the world of Brand Marketing Strategy and Field Operations. I would say that my primary focus is on the finer nuances that can set our brand apart, ensuring we not only meet but exceed our clients’ expectations.

Yet, it’s my second role that brings a fresh perspective to this mix. As a Digital Reporter for Genpact, I don’t just strategise or manage operations. I tell our story. I ensure that our brand’s narrative is not just heard, but felt, deeply resonating with our audience. This role allows me to be a bridge between the internal operations of Genpact and the external world. It enables me to be Genpact’s brand ambassador, providing an authentic, firsthand viewpoint of what it truly means to be a part of our organisation.

What I enjoy most about my roles at Genpact is the dynamic interplay between the two. In the evolving landscape of today’s corporate world, businesses often find themselves at the intersection of tradition and innovation. Two domains that might seem disparate at first – Solution Architecture and Digital Storytelling – are the areas I’ve immersed myself in, finding their unexpected and impactful intersections.

I would like you to imagine a structure. A well-architected solution is the backbone, the foundation that supports a business. At Genpact, I’ve dedicated myself to innovating and architecting solutions that don’t just serve immediate needs, but rather act as catalysts.

But what is a structure without visibility? Without a voice?

This is where Digital Storytelling comes in. A structure might be solid and functional, but its stories give it character, identity, and soul. My journey at Genpact has been equally about giving our brand this voice. Through engaging narratives, I’ve aimed to not just amplify Genpact’s brand visibility but to truly connect with our community on digital platforms.

How has your journey led you to this point?

My journey leading up to this point has been a rich tapestry of experiences and opportunities. After graduating, I returned to my home country, Romania, where I was interning at the U.S. Embassy Bucharest in the Commercial field. As the end of my internship in October 2022 was drawing near, I was actively seeking job opportunities in both London and Bucharest. In November 2022, I received a compelling offer from Genpact to join an exciting project in the pharma and life sciences industry within the commercial sector of our business. This marked the beginning of a rewarding chapter in my career.

Over the past year at Genpact, I’ve had the privilege of achieving several milestones that have enriched my professional journey:

Within just three months of joining Genpact, I was recommended to the Spark Academy Programme (an upskilling programme at Genpact) based on my exceptional contributions. This early recognition from my manager was not only a significant morale booster for me, but also a validation of my dedication and hard work. I am deeply thankful to my manager for her faith in my abilities and to my mentor throughout the program for their invaluable guidance throughout this journey. The Spark Academy Programme was highly competitive, receiving thousands of applications, yet only 100 candidates were accepted on the programme, with a mere 70% successfully graduating. Subsequently, graduating from the Spark Academy Programme has been a significant achievement for me, and it’s very exciting because it sets the stage for my move into a leadership or management role in the upcoming months. This comprehensive programme broadened my horizons, deepening my understanding of the industry and enhancing my skills, which in turn allowed me to make more substantial contributions to my team. The knowledge and insights gained from this experience have been instrumental in shaping my approach to problem-solving and strategic thinking. The business case presentation I developed and delivered for the programme received special recognition from Genpact’s leadership team. This acknowledgment was a highlight of my time in the programme, demonstrating the effectiveness of my communication skills and my ability to articulate complex ideas. It was a proud moment that underscored my commitment to achieving excellence in all aspects of my work at Genpact.

Another notable accomplishment is receiving the EMEA Cheers Award in the ‘Curious’ category. This award recognised my proactive and enthusiastic approach to our projects and client relationships, reflecting my commitment to excellence and continuous learning. It was a testament to my dedication to not only meeting but exceeding expectations in every aspect of my work, from project management to client engagement.

Being nominated as a Digital Reporter has been a transformative experience, marking a significant shift in my career. As aforementioned, in this role, I’ve had the opportunity to leverage strategic digital storytelling and content optimisation to amplify our brand’s presence. This position has allowed me to blend creative expression with strategic communication, resulting in engaging and impactful narratives that resonate with our audience and enhance our brand’s visibility and appeal.

I have recently also joined the Engagement & CSR Team which added a new dimension to my role, aligning my work with our core values of courage, curiosity, incisiveness, and integrity. This involvement has provided me with a platform to drive initiatives that not only benefit our organisation but also contribute positively to the community.

My visit to our London office was another highlight of my year. It offered a great opportunity to collaborate and engage with our team in a different setting, fostering deeper connections and providing fresh perspectives on our global operations.

Ioana at the Genpact officeThroughout my journey as a Senior Process Associate at Genpact, my contributions and dedication have led to a significant opportunity for me, a young professional, who is still at the early stages of her career. The leadership team in London took notice of my work, resulting in an invitation to collaborate with them on a new and exciting project. This opportunity is a pivotal moment in my career, marking both recognition of my past efforts and the start of a new chapter in my professional story.

Lastly, participating in Forbes Romania conferences and other business events has been an enlightening aspect of my journey. These events have offered me a platform to learn from industry leaders, gain insights into emerging trends, and network with professionals, further enhancing my understanding of the corporate landscape.

I believe that each of these achievements has contributed to a fulfilling and enriching year at Genpact, marking a significant phase of growth and development in my career.

Elsewhere, you’ve been using your great project management skills in Bucharest. Please could you tell us about some of the projects you’ve been working on and any interesting outcomes?

In my role with the Engagement and CSR team at Genpact in Bucharest, I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to several meaningful projects, an experience that has allowed me to apply and further develop my project management skills while also pursuing my passion for community engagement. One of the key initiatives I spearheaded was the Halloween campaign. We organised a festive celebration that brought together all the accounts in Bucharest. A highlight of this event was the ‘spooky cookie’ corner, where we sold themed cookies. The funds raised from this initiative were donated to a local non-governmental organisation (NGO), demonstrating our commitment to community engagement and social responsibility. Additionally, I am overseeing a series of events planned for the Christmas season. These events are designed not only to foster a sense of community and celebration within our organisation, but also to contribute positively to our local community.

Outside of my professional responsibilities at Genpact, I have extended my project management expertise to my involvement with the Rotaract Club Bucharest Nord. I was appointed as their Project Manager, a role in which I’ve coordinated multiple charitable events. One of the most significant projects I am leading is the “Alege Viata, Condu Prudent” (“Choose Life, Drive Safely”) campaign. This international initiative, ongoing since 2008, aims to reduce road accidents caused by aggressive driving. In Romania, this campaign is a collaborative effort among various Rotaract groups, in partnership with the traffic police and local authorities.

Our approach includes engaging with drivers directly. Volunteers, accompanied by police officers, will interact with drivers in traffic, distributing stickers bearing the campaign’s message. To make a more profound impact, we are utilising accident simulators and virtual reality glasses to demonstrate the severe consequences of road accidents. We believe that this initiative will not only raise awareness about safe driving, but also showcases the effective collaboration between community groups and law enforcement to promote public safety.

During your studies, we understand you undertook an internship at the Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest. How did you find the experience and what did you learn from it?

Ah, where do I even start?! My internship at the Commercial Service of the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest was an enriching period of professional growth and learning. It provided me with a conducive environment to hone my skills and inspired me to strive towards becoming the best version of myself. Balancing my studies in London with the internship was challenging, but the overwhelming kindness, flexibility, empathy, and understanding shown by my supervisors made it manageable. There were moments when the workload from university studies was daunting, and I considered focusing solely on my academics. However, my supervisors were always accommodating, helping me balance both commitments through regular weekly meetings where we discussed my agenda and time constraints. Their unwavering support and guidance were crucial in helping me effectively juggle both my studies and the internship.

They trusted me with significant responsibilities from day one, which played a key role in boosting my self-confidence. For instance, I was delegated to represent the Commercial Department at various events, such as The Black Sea Defense and Aerospace Conference (BSDA), IndAgra (the largest agriculture and agribusiness event in SEE), and other conferences. At BSDA, I got invited by one of our partner companies to participate and represent the Commercial section at the Embassy in the ‘AIA Aerospace Industries Association – U.S. Industry Main Reception Event’ in London. This opportunity was really an honour and, honestly, it felt like a big nod to the professional network and reputation I had been working hard to build!

Ioana at the EmbassyAmong my supervisors, one in particular profoundly shaped my professional journey. Her ambitious, result-driven approach and passion for women’s empowerment were truly inspiring. Together, we worked on the “EmpowerHer” project, which she initiated. The project aimed to promote the economic empowerment of women in the workplace, focusing on leadership roles. Despite initial resistance from some American businesses, our combined efforts and her resilient leadership turned it into a success story. Now, over 50 American companies and all AmChams in Europe support the initiative. My role was integral to this project, acting as the main point of contact between the embassy and all parties involved, which included coordinating with various stakeholders and ensuring effective communication throughout the project.

I managed other several significant projects, one of which focused on Recovery and Resiliency Funding in Southeast Europe. This particular project was especially challenging and rewarding, as it involved extensive research, coordination with various stakeholders, and a strategic approach to funding allocation in response to regional needs. My work culminated in a comprehensive presentation, which not only detailed the intricacies of the funding process, but also proposed effective strategies for its implementation. This presentation gained significant recognition, being featured at a national conference we held in partnership with Deloitte, highlighting the depth and applicability of my research and recommendations.

At the end of my internship, in recognition of my contributions, I received a ‘Certificate of Appreciation’ from the Charge D’Affaires. This internship was not just a professional engagement; it was a journey of personal and professional growth for me, where I learned invaluable lessons from inspiring leaders and undertook projects that had a profound impact on my development.

It sounds like you’ve had a busy time since graduating! Looking back, why did you choose Bayes Business School for your BSc Hons Business Management, Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship degree?

Reflecting on my time since graduation, my decision to attend Bayes Business School for my BSc Hons in Business Management, Digital Innovation, and Entrepreneurship was driven by a combination of factors. I knew that Bayes was highly reputed for its academic excellence, and I was particularly drawn to the multicultural environment it offered. This aspect was essential for me as I was really passionate to study in a setting that mirrored the diversity and dynamism of the global business landscape.

My decision was also deeply influenced by personal, academic, and professional aspirations. I’ve always been a naturally curious individual, passionate about learning and challenging myself. Furthermore, growing up with exceptionally loving and successful parents with well-established careers in  management has always inspired me to strive to become a strong and successful woman myself. The multidisciplinary nature of the degree at Bayes Business School allowed me to gain a comprehensive understanding of the intricate interplay between political-economic factors and their impact on global markets and individual businesses. It also provided me with in-depth knowledge of the processes involved in creating digital startups, from their inception to launch, and how both new and established organisations navigate the challenges and opportunities of disruptive innovation.

The education I received at Bayes Business School equipped me with a robust knowledge base, perfectly suited for the dynamic nature of today’s business environment. I am deeply grateful for the guidance and insights provided by my professors and mentors, as well as for the support and collaboration from my colleagues and friends. The opportunities that came my way during my time studying there have been extremely important in shaping my professional journey.

It would be great to learn more about your time at University! Please tell us about any standout memories, as well as your roles within various societies.

Reflecting on my university days brings back a kaleidoscope of vibrant experiences and memorable roles. I was deeply engaged in university life, which was both enriching and empowering. I was elected as a Student Councillor and also served as the Student Representative of my cohort. These positions allowed me to collaborate closely with university staff, working towards creating an academic environment focused on innovation and collaboration.

Ioana with the ESN flagIn the realm of student societies, my journey was quite dynamic. In my time with the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) City London, I embraced various roles that significantly contributed to my personal and professional growth. Starting as the Events Manager, I quickly delved into the realms of event planning and social media marketing. My journey progressed to the role of Social Media Manager, and eventually, I was promoted to Head of Communications in October 2020. In these roles, I focused on enhancing our society’s online presence, developing communication strategies with the National Board, and managing our brand’s digital content. This led to a substantial increase in our brand following and engagement rates by almost 40%. By July 2021, I advanced to the position of Vice-President, overseeing the organisation’s reputation, team dynamics, and the recruitment process, and also contributed to the international board in the media & press team.

However, the core of my engagement with ESN was driven by a personal understanding of the challenges faced by international students. Being an international student myself, I deeply resonated with the difficulties of adapting to a new country, culture, and the process of making new friends. I believe that I managed to wholeheartedly embrace ESN’s motto – ‘Students helping students.’ My efforts were thus dedicated to facilitating smoother integration for students. I organised and coordinated over 30 events, both online and in-person, focusing on cultural exchange and student wellbeing. These events were not just about fun; they were a bridge for students to connect, learn, and feel supported in their new environment. Working with ESN also offered the invaluable experience of collaborating with people from diverse cultures, enhancing my adaptability and empathy, which in turn improved our teamwork and the quality of our work. Additionally, I served on the international board in the media & press team.

My tenure as the president of the Romanian Society was especially close to my heart, as I got to showcase the rich tapestry of Romanian culture and traditions. As president of the Business Society, I organized events in partnership with major companies like Estee Lauder and Knight Frank.

Ioana at graduationSome standout memories include being approached by Dr. Li Cunningham and Dr. Martin Rich during my third year to join the research team at Bayes as a Student Engagement Advisor. I created and implemented innovative induction materials for Welcome and Induction Weeks, receiving commendation from the Dean. Being invited as a speaker at Open Days events and the ‘Bayes Teaching and Learning Days’ was also memorable. Recently, Dr. Cunningham invited me to attend the ‘Bayes UG Periodic Review’ along with other alumni and academics.

Interwoven with these experiences was my academic performance throughout my bachelor’s studies. Consistently ranking in the top 10% of my student cohort in different subjects, I demonstrated a strong proficiency and dedication across a range of subjects, further underscoring my commitment to academic excellence and my passion for continuous learning and improvement. And, of course, graduating with First Class Honours was the crowning achievement of my university journey, a testament to the dedication and passion I invested in my academic pursuits.

Were you able to make use of the Careers Service after you graduated?

Yes, I absolutely made use of the Careers Service after graduating. They were incredibly helpful in several key areas. Firstly, they assisted me in reviewing and refining my CV and cover letter, ensuring that my applications were not only professional but also effectively highlighted my skills and experiences. Moreover, their guidance in preparing for assessment centres was particularly helpful, providing me with the necessary insights and strategies to navigate these evaluations effectively.

Did you undertake any volunteering while you were studying?

During my studies, my engagement with various societies was entirely on a voluntary basis. In addition to these roles, I was also actively involved with the Wiser Academy, initially as an Ambassador and later as a Team Leader. In this capacity, I played a pivotal role in helping some of the world’s largest brands attract top soon-to-be graduates. I often refer to myself as a ‘mini-recruiter’ in this context, as I assisted several students with tips and tricks for their applications to our partner companies. Proudly, my guidance helped five students secure positions with our partners! At the ‘Wiser Academy Awards Ceremony 2022’ I was honoured with the ‘Back Yourself’ award. It was extremely meaningful for me as it recognised something I deeply believe in – the power of self-confidence. This award was much more than just a token of achievement; it was a validation of my belief in my own capabilities and the hard work I put into helping students. It really resonated with me, as it underscored one of Wiser’s core values and something I hold dear: the importance of believing in yourself.

Additionally, during holidays back in my home country, I volunteered with ‘Angels Down Friends,’ an organisation dedicated to supporting children with Down Syndrome. My involvement included organising a variety of activities such as playground visits, creative sessions, trips, and ‘Special Needs Marathons.’

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve carried the dream of making a positive impact on society and giving back to those who have helped shape me into who I am today. This desire to contribute and make a difference has always been a driving force in my life and career, pushing me not just toward personal success but also to ensure that my actions have a meaningful, positive effect on others. With the influence of mentors, educators, and various experiences in my life, I’ve been constantly motivated to pay it forward and contribute to the collective good.

This same spirit is what I would encourage anyone looking to follow in my footsteps to embrace. My primary advice is to always believe in yourself and constantly push your limits – the sky is truly the limit. I live by the motto, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ This mindset guides me to consistently go the extra mile in everything I do. It’s all about being proactive and creating the change you want to see, both in your professional life and in your efforts to positively impact the community. This approach has been integral in my journey, guiding me to strive for meaningful achievements and encouraging me to make a lasting difference.

Remember to seize every opportunity that comes your way and network extensively! Building relationships and expanding your professional network can open doors you might not have known existed. Stay curious and bold, values that I’ve embraced from Bayes Business School, and work tirelessly towards your goals, but always prioritise your mental health and wellbeing. Yet, it is important to never settle for anything less than what makes you truly happy with your outcomes. Keeping your values and goals at the forefront, never lose sight of what you’re aiming for. To illustrate this point, let me share a personal experience. During my high school years, I was deeply passionate about robotics and I was a member of Romania’s National Robotics Team, AutoVortex. As the only girl in the team, I faced a challenging moment when we were traveling to Eindhoven for FTC 2017. A border police officer commented, ‘You should be playing with dolls, robotics is for guys.’ Initially, this comment was disheartening, but it didn’t deter me. Instead, I stayed committed to my passion and played a key role in our team securing the 2nd place in the contest.

Last but not least,  kindness and willingness to lend a hand are equally important. We are all human, prone to mistakes, but what counts is learning and growing from them. Keeping a positive and open-minded attitude is essential. It not only helps you navigate through challenges, but also invites more opportunities and makes you more adaptable to change. A constant smile on your face can make a big difference, not just in your life, but also in the lives of those around you!

Thanks to Ioana for sharing her story and providing a great insight into all her hard work!