She has a unique smile! Social assistance and human resources have in common People, explains the director of human resources from Conest the road from social assistance to the well-known construction company. Mariana Ştefan decides who joins the CONEST team. She says that a cruel reality of the construction labour market is the lack of new specialists in the sought-after professions such as: welder, blacksmith, concrete mixer, mason. But she is waiting at Conest for young people who want a career in construction.
In 2008 she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași. From the same higher education institution she obtains the title of Master in Supervision and Social Planning. She took her first steps on the professional market at Onitrade and at the same time, volunteered at the Caritas Diocesan Center. Since 2011 she has been part of the Conest team and has gone through all the hierarchy steps to the position of Human Resources Director. She did not give up on humanitarian actions.
What do social assistance and human resources have in common?
Mariana Ștefan: The two areas have in common the People.
Who is the teacher who mentored her in the faculty? What did she learn from him/her?
Mariana Ștefan: My faculty mentor is Mrs Mihaela Ciurlica who guided me in my Bachelor’s thesis, a paper that addressed a complex topic: “Problems specific to people with mental disabilities and action strategies”.
I learned from her that no action is wrong if you had a hypothesis that you validated and can support in front of others, nothing is impossible if you really want and that the most beautiful, difficult and full of satisfaction is the “struggle” with mentalities.
I fondly remember another important thing she instilled in us students: the joy of living and boundless optimism. We are always happy with her energy and naturalness to be a teacher – friend, always with a sweet word in our portfolio and with the care to make sure that we succeed in everything we set out to do.
What did she learn and will she never forget what she learned in faculty?
Mariana Ștefan: I learned to work in a team and enjoy the results.
Has she ever considered working abroad? To emigrate. If so, what stopped her. If not, why?
Mariana Ștefan: Yes, many times. I was stopped by the desire to change mentalities, the care for others, but also to prove to me that it is possible. I often visit my faculty/Master’s Degree colleagues who have made a career abroad and I am proud that they have succeeded, but everyone dreams of returning home to give the community something of what they have learned.
If Mariana Ștefan today should give three tips to a student what would they be?
Mariana Ștefan: To follow her dream and not to divulge it to anyone;
Don’t let a day go by without learning something new;
Never stop believing in her;
Volunteer at the Caritas Diocesan Center. Why?
Mariana Ștefan: Volunteer at Caritas to face the job I dreamed of doing: social work.
How would she describe volunteering? What was the experience that marked her?
Mariana Ștefan: Volunteering brings people together and helped me test a future career, taught me to give something back to the community, share smiles, and grow personally. At the same time, I practiced my patience, socialized and put in order the values and principles of the professional life that followed.
During the volunteering experience I heard and met people with interesting life stories that opened doors to new passions.
Did Mariana Ştefan choose Conest or did Conest choose Mariana Ştefan?
Mariana Ștefan: Initially Mariana Ștefan chose Conest out of the desire to work with people and to improve in a field parallel to social assistance – human resources. The period of my debut in Conest (2011) coincided with the implementation of European human resource development programs by the company.
After three years of activity within CONEST and active involvement in European human resources development programs, I have received the challenge to manage starting with 28 April 2014, the project “Career Counselling Center for students in the field of construction – ISCOP”, co-financed by the European Social Fund through the Sectorial Operational Program for Human Resources Development 2007-2013, Priority AXIS 2 “Correlating lifelong learning with the labour market”, Major field of intervention 2.1: “The transition from school to active life”.
Although I stepped fearfully towards this experience which means coordinating a complex partnership: CONEST S.A. – “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University of Iași – “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical College of Iași and the management of over 400,000 euros, the ISCOP project which had as general objective the facilitation of the insertion on the labour market and the development of the work skills of the pupils and students by creating a partnership between educational units and the business environment in the field of constructions. It became my soul project, successfully completing it.
Confirmation that it was a successful project came from the project beneficiaries – students of the Faculty of Constructions and Installations within “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University of Iași, which gave me, to my surprise, a diploma as the best Project Manager and the most optimistic person.
Such a distinction and not only, strengthened my desire to continue engaging in S.C. CONEST S.A. in the development of future specialists and the continuation of the partnership with the educational institutions in the field of constructions.
Director of Human Resources at Conest! How would you tell a child what responsibilities you have?
Mariana Ștefan: I would associate the role and responsibilities of the HR director with a puzzle, order is a key element of any HR Manager: creates healthy connections between employees and the company, puts the right people in the right place, understands change, evaluates performance correctly and works with budgets.
What did Mariana Ştefan learn from the Conest team? But what did the team learn from Mariana Ştefan?
Mariana Ștefan: I learned and still learn many things as part of the Conest team: the fact that each team member is important (your team is the measure of your worth), how important is the responsibility and making your own decisions.
What did the team learn from me? Beyond specialists in a certain field, let’s not forget to be human.
There is talk of decreasing the degree of professional training from one year to another. About high employment demands not doubled by skills. What is a myth and what is not?
Mariana Ștefan: With the evolution of technology, things seem easier to do and involuntarily there is a slight increase in the demands of candidates for employment. Until recently, a profession was learned once and for all, for a lifetime. Nowadays, the professional knowledge acquired in school ends up being surpassed when the young person is hired.
High demands come from candidates who do not make a correct assessment or from young people who are engaging for the first time in the field in which they studied.
At the same time, a cruel reality of the construction labour market is the lack of new specialists in the sought-after professions such as: welder, blacksmith, concrete mixer, mason. A “resuscitation” of the schools of arts and crafts is being tried out, effects that we will see or not in time, depending on the number of applicants in the field.
What are the criteria for hiring at Conest?
Mariana Ștefan: It is not very easy for the CONEST employer to choose their future employee. The main criteria are: motivation, technical knowledge, experience and ability to adapt to a complex environment in continuous development.
Between a very well-trained employee professionally, but unable to work in a team and a less well-trained but sociable one, what does Mariana Ştefan choose?
Mariana Ștefan: Human quality is an important aspect in choosing a candidate, in working on projects being essential the ability to work in a team.
The choice would also be determined by the complexity of the job, it is difficult for me to choose, I would give a chance to both candidates given the fact that I like to work with mentalities. Certainly the inability of a good specialist to work in a team comes from a previous experience that can be explored and solved.
What was the shortest job interview?
Mariana Ștefan: A 10-minute interview, an interview materialized with an immediate employment.
But the longest? If you can give some details. Without violating confidentiality.
Mariana Ștefan: The longest interview was 90 minutes, during which the candidate felt the need to talk about his family and personal experiences gained during his professional career.
What are the values of Conest? What makes Conest the leader in the market?
Mariana Ștefan: Conest’s values are responsibility, professionalism and fairness.
Sustainable partnerships, well-done work, highly qualified staff, completion of each project started and care for the community place the company in the top of the market leaders, an aspect confirmed by the ranking on the 15th place in the Top 100 General Contractors in Construction 2018.
The position of human resources director is a demanding one. How important is family support?
Mariana Ștefan: The family has an important and decisive role in the life of every specialist. It is important to be understood and supported. The support is mutual and it is ideal to keep the professional-family life balance. I do not always manage to keep this balance given the responsibility and specificity of the position, so I always thank my family for their unconditional support.
What does she know how to cook best? What is the favourite food? What does the ideal vacation look like?
Mariana Ștefan: Good question: I’m not a fan of cooking and I think I cook salads best.
I love to experiment with new dishes and am attracted to Italian cuisine.
The ideal vacation for me is related to authenticity, novelty, simplicity and passion for sports.
If she had to go to the moon, for example, and could only take one book, what would it be?
Mariana Ștefan: Arta Conversației (The Art of Conversation) – Ileana Vulpescu.
A message for the people of Iași, beneficiaries of many Conest projects?
Mariana Ștefan: We thank them for their trust and patience and assure them that we will complete on time or even before the deadline the projects we are involved in. Behind the Conest projects is an important resource consisting of 480 specialists – and I invite you to cross the threshold of our company if you have the necessary experience or want to start a career in construction.