Are you prepared to trust and be trusted?
Mihaela Udriste has been with COS for 21 years. She joined in 1999, when COS was providing predominantly Steelcase furniture and over the years she was actively involved in supporting the significant evolution of the COS portfolio into flooring, fit-out, architectural decorations to becoming a complete turn-key provider. She is currently Regional Director, leading and mentoring the Bucharest team and her responsibilities include managing many of COS’s major corporate accounts.
Colin Lovering sat down with Miki recently to find out more about what really makes her tick and to gain her valuable personal insights, observations and practical advice for the business community and her colleagues alike.
- Miki, you’ve been at COS well over 20 years now and we will talk about your stories and experiences in a while. But firstly, tell us a little more about the Miki outside of COS. Your background, childhood, family etc.?
I’ m a chemist (engineer), graduated the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest a long time ago… I’m married and I have 2 children: my son Victor is a student, he finished the first year in business management and my daughter Maria is 15 years old and she was admitted in the first year at the bilingual High School (German beginner). My husband Sorin graduated the Polytechnic Institute as well and he is active in the banking field with more than 25 years’ experience acquired within important international financial institutions. If you ask me what my passions are, I would say I like to travel, and I want to see the world and the beauty of our planet. Guess that my ultimate dream is to retire in the countryside one day.
- Consistency and Loyalty are, unfortunately, words we don’t use so often these days when describing somebody. But tell me, what is it about this company that keeps you so motivated and spirited every day for the past 20 plus years?
This is who I am, this is me, mama Miki. I find that each day is a challenge, and this motivates me and helps me to find new working / learning skills and to build confidence and trust in my work and in the relation with clients, team members, partners.
I always like to see and face the challenges to motivate myself. What keeps me motivated? meeting deadlines, targets or goals, conquering and completing difficult projects and seeing them through to the end (like a journey), learning new things, mentoring and coaching others, sharing from my experience … positive or demanding. This keeps my spirit and my energy and gives me reasons to discover new things every day.
My motto is: You have to believe in what you do!
- Has doing business changed much over these years? Is it harder to do business now and, if so, why? What’s easier now than in the past?
Some would say that running a business in today’s world is much simpler, thanks to the connected and highly digital world we live in. We have access to devices and apps that help with communication, marketing, hiring, recruiting and other critical business operations.
Others would say that running a company was easier in the past when there was less competition and less time needed to spend on learning.
I would say that a business factor that has greatly changed is the business culture. Today, employees are created with open office environments to encourage collaboration and teaming. The office culture has also changed in that we use laptops, tablets and other connected devices to get the work done.
We now live in a world where customers are much more educated and their expectations are very high, not only in terms of a quality experience, but also top solutions.
- If you had to describe the top 3 reasons people deal with COS over the years, what would they be?
Firstly, we are the pioneer in this industry… having the entire portfolio of services and products. Secondly, we have strong partnerships and long-term relations that create trust. Thirdly, we have ensured stability, consistency and continuous development.
- Picking up on your word trust, what advice would you give to leaders who are used to leading people 9 to 5 in the office and now need to have more trust as people work remotely?
The trust must come from both sides, I would say. It is important that you trust me and I trust you. This is coming with understanding the importance of the processes and attitude and everything that could bring value to the business. If you are a leader, you need to set a positive example, for the employee to follow and be efficient and productive.
We are passing uncommon times, but we need to remain a constant landmark in a society that probably will still face more challenging moments.
- I know they fondly call you the ‘big momma’ within the COS sales team but tell me more about the extended team at COS, the unsung heroes I guess you might describe them? How are they crucial to the business?
To create a successful sales force, I think that we have to take in consideration at least 3 elements: select the right people, train them to succeed and sustain them with the right tools and resources. The unsung resources as you may guess are the support teams behind the sales force.
We have more than 50 in-house committed and skillful specialists. They are organized in dedicated teams: design, engineers, support teams, securing a smooth control and organization of the projects. Every project has behind a strong team of specialists, so they are crucial to the business, they are involved in the entire process from the beginning until the end.
Based on their expertise and being able to understand the needs, they are responsible to prepare the right solutions: to organize, to control and implement in the best way possible.
- Finally, back to the subject of consistency and loyalty, what advice would you give to anyone looking to join an organization like COS and what message would you like to give to your colleagues reading this interview?
Be fair and honest with you, your colleagues and your clients, treat them as you would like to be treated, listen before you speak think before you speak and don’t forget to stay humble.