This month, Lucian Irimia, Chief Financial Officer of Conest marks ten years since the first day of work at the company. Confidence, the secret of success, says Lucian Irimia modestly, but he wants to emphasize: Conest completed any project started regardless of the difficulties, modifications, technical or financial aspects that brought major impediments in execution. The Chief Financial Officer of Conest also has a message for young people: CONEST can be a challenge, but at the same time a huge career launching pad.
The social responsibility of the company in front of the people of Iași is for us more than a theoretical notion. Maybe we made a little mistake by making consistent human and financial efforts, generating results for the community, without making it a title of praise. As in a period of only two years we have revitalized the industrial area through the Conest Grand Residence project, I assure you that we will complete ahead of time the projects that mean a lot for our daily comfort. Building a company for the future, Lucian Irimia:
Lucian Irimia. Chief Financial Officer of Conest. In 1999 he became a graduate of Social Economic Statistics, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Alexandru Ioan Cuza University. In 2000 he obtained a Master’s Degree in Social Economic Statistics at the same higher education institution. He took his first steps on the labour market in 1999 as Economic Director at the construction company Alex. He was Senior Relationship Manager in the Corporate Department, Raiffeisen Bank, Chief Financial Officer of Vinia. Since 2011 he is part of the Conest team.
What did Lucian Irimia want when he was a child to be when he grows up?
Lucian Irimia: A doctor. And in a way, today I am what I dreamed of, because I take care of the health of a company. Of an organization in which we are over 400 specialists, of a team that needs financial balance to develop the projects in which it is involved. Whether it is our own projects or projects that we give back to the community.
What did you know about Conest before you joined the company team?
Lucian Irimia: My professional experience began in the summer of 1999 in the Alex Construction Company, a builder who marked the urban landscape that today we proudly promote as the Historical Capital of Romania. It was a huge opportunity for me to develop in a professional environment, with competent people and especially in the heart of a complex field, perhaps the most complex of the branches of the national economy. I then had CONEST in front of me from the perspective of a competitor, together with other traditional builders from Iași. Subsequently, during the seven years I spent at Raiffeisen Bank, I had CONEST in the bank’s customer relationship. On this occasion, I broadened and personalized my knowledge of the organization. Large, financially balanced company, serious and keeping its word in relationship with the bank. When I chose to join this team, in 2010, it was the best option for my career, on a well-prepared ground and, especially, in a long-term development vision. And time has shown that the choice was the right one.
What do the banking sector, a winery and a construction company have in common?
Lucian Irimia: Money. Result orientation. It is the natural tendency of each organization in its mission to maintain a state of financial balance and to ensure the financial resources necessary for the development of current projects. Our market economy is at the beginning of the road, but through the access to the media or through the educational force that foreign financial institutions have exerted in a short period of time, it has shaken relatively quickly from the techniques of the past. Those who are still present in the market today have the merit of understanding what are the key elements in the functioning of a customer-oriented and ultimately profit-oriented organization.
How did you become part of the Conest team? Do you remember the first day of work?
Lucian Irimia: I came to CONEST with the proposal to develop together projects for which to attract the resources of the European Union, in the post-accession programs. And after less than an hour of discussions I was a member of the CONEST team, which was to develop the proposed projects. But I remember perfectly the ease with which I integrated into the work environment, the human quality of colleagues, many of them still part of our team and the feeling of the right decision I made then, on the spot. And this month 10 years have passed since those moments, which means that time has validated it to the same extent.
You are the Chief Financial Officer. What are the promotion criteria in Conest? Does any soldier have the marshal’s staff in his backpack?
Lucian Irimia: The promotion criteria are capacity, competence and professionalism. The organization has always been open to new people or internal promotion. In fact, any other policy would be to the detriment of the interests of the whole company and it would be impossible for me to believe that someone would take our faith and hope for a better future out of our backs.
If you had to use a single word to describe what Conest means to you, what would it be?
Lucian Irimia: Trust!
The happiest three moments? The projects you are proud of?
Lucian Irimia: Every day I am healthy is a successful day! And as happiness is not a desideratum, I do everything I can so that throughout the trip I do not carry in my luggage regrets, envy or remorse. And those with whom I travel with I choose with great care; I think I made inspired choices. It is hard to name one or more projects now that I am proud of. All the projects I was involved in meant something and left something behind. That is what I am proud of!
The hardest three moments?
Lucian Irimia: There have been many difficult moments in recent years, generated especially by the ambiguous and incomplete legislative framework in the field of public procurement. Starting from the criteria for awarding construction works on the principle of the lowest price, continuing with the major problems in execution generated by the documentation sometimes incomplete or insufficient for urban sites, crowded by very old utility networks, Romanian companies in the region of Moldova had very few opportunities to develop. To capitalize. And in these conditions, the risks on the current activity are multiple and difficult to manage with the tools at our disposal.
How did Conest get through the state of the emergency ordinances? Romania stopped for a few months. Did Conest stop too?
Lucian Irimia: Not for a moment! From the very beginning, we have applied all safety recommendations to workplaces both on construction sites and in offices. We have created the optimal conditions for communication between the operational groups on the construction sites so that the financial flows, together with those of supply, transport, storage and execution, are affected as little as possible. I can say that some construction sites, especially those in areas of heavy traffic, have fully benefited from the very special conditions generated by the restrictions provided during the state of emergency. An element of real support during this period was the ERP computer system that allowed the simplification of document flows and the minimization of contact between colleagues. The results were impressive; three months after the outbreak, we were working hard on all the contracts, we have schedules of advanced works on the most important of them and, most importantly, we had no case of illness among us.
How has the SARS COV 2 pandemic changed the company’s future?
Lucian Irimia: The epidemiological situation is just a variable in the organizational matrix. True, a variable with huge destructive potential on the ability to act, but the company, through its specificity of organization in clusters (construction sites) has had a positive response throughout this period. We have not stopped any of our own development projects, where we have the ability to control the processes from the concept, project, approvals, documentation and authorization phase. At the same time, our perception was that the banking environment reacted calmly and prudently throughout this period, ensuring that the level of financing was maintained in the conditions prior to the pandemic period. And government policies to support infrastructure investment programs, to accelerate the process of accessing non-reimbursable funds are as many opportunities for the construction sector in the medium and long term.
What did you learn well as a Chief Financial Officer during this period?
Lucian Irimia: It is difficult to say if I have learned anything, but it is a crisis very different from other crises that periodically intervene in the economic development cycles of society. However, I validated the importance of financial balance in the life of a large company and the need to maintain a degree of indebtedness at a controllable level. This means structuring the debts on projects, correlating the repayment terms with the collection ones and capitalizing with superior returns each asset from the patrimony.
The secret of Conest’s longevity?
Lucian Irimia: I know it sounds like a cliché, but the secret is visible to everyone and applies in many other ways. Respectively, qualified personnel, involved and motivated on a structure very well configured by norms, procedures or quality certifications of the executed works, in all phases of design or execution. And one more detail: completion of each project started regardless of the difficulties, modifications, technical or financial aspects that brought major impediments in execution.
If your son came with a diploma in construction engineering to get a job at Conest, what would be the employment criteria?
Lucian Irimia: The configuration, application or modification of these criteria falls under the responsibility of the Department of Human Resources, the heart of this large body that is CONEST. But please be convinced that if he had this call I would be the first to recommend this choice. In fact, during the implementation of some of our human resources projects, I was actively involved in training activities and had numerous discussions on this topic with students of the Faculty of Civil Engineering. CONEST can be a challenge for them, but at the same time a huge career launching pad.
A message for the clients?
Lucian Irimia: I am in constant contact with all our clients, whether they are representatives of public institutions or private entities. In this way I come to understand the impact that the project we are building has on their activity. I thus make sure that we are an open, fair and proactive dialogue partner to their needs. Our message is to trust that their projects are in good hands!
Your works are an inconvenience for the people of Iași during their development. Most of the time you complete the projects faster. What message do you have for the people of Iași?
Lucian Irimia: We say it clearly that the completion of high impact works for the local community, in conditions of maximum quality and responsibility is our main objective. It is also to our advantage because it brings cost savings and allows us to make better use of the windows of opportunity we have in a field of activity strongly influenced by seasonal climatic factors.
The social responsibility of the company in front of the people of Iași is for us more than a theoretical notion. Maybe we made a little mistake by making consistent human and financial efforts, generating results for the community, without making it a title of praise. As in a period of only two years we have revitalized the industrial area through the Conest Grand Residence project, I assure you that we will complete ahead of time the projects that mean a lot for our daily comfort. Building a company for the future.