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Dive Deeper into the Career Journey of a Project Manager at EPAM Romania

An Interview with Elena Anghel

Elena graduated the Academy of Economic Studies in 2004, spending her last year as an Erasmus student at Strasbourg Robert Schuman University. She remembers this time vividly because this was when the movie Euro-mix was running in cinemas and remembers being so excited that it consistently played during the entire period she spent in France. “This is maybe the most defining and valued experience of my youth, the one which marked the start to international exposure, which continues to the present day and that I hope will never cease.”

Elena spends most of her time working and raising two wonderful children, planning trips and all kinds of other adventures, and always seeing beauty in things and in people. She is a Project Manager at EPAM Romania and enjoys working with dynamic and solution-oriented colleagues. Let’s hear more from Elena!

How did your career at EPAM begin? Walk us through your career path within EPAM.

My career at EPAM actually started in May this year. I hope I’ll be with the company for a long time; I already really like working here. It has been obvious from the start that I have found a dedicated team of professionals and a company with strong management and that cares for its people. My motto is that while the journey is never easy, with hard work, ambition and passion, all targets can be achieved.

I really enjoyed that last sentence, it sounds encouraging. Can you tell us how you chose your profession?

I did not choose my profession, it chose me. It was all by chance, fate, or whatever you want to call it. It was by chance that I entered the IT domain, as I was a Banking Officer until a friend called to ask me if I wanted to become a Business Analyst. I remember how delighted I was about everything I was doing and with the team I became a part of starting in 2005.  Having great colleagues, people who were always solution-oriented and enjoyed every day at work made me cherish all those moments. We also laughed a lot and played pranks with each other, which made work much more enjoyable.

One day, in 2007 the need for a project coordinator came along and the rest is history. Transitioning from BA to PM was so natural for me, I never wanted to do anything else. It felt like finally arriving “home” and although I had no training, I was fortunate enough to work with great people who were patient enough to guide and assist me.

What is your favourite part of the current project you are working on?

The start of every project has an initiation phase, including stakeholder discovery, and understanding the product to be delivered and the processes specific to the project or organization. This is the most interesting part for me, as I understand how to organize the team and the work in the most beneficial and effective way. It’s the time when I must seek and find solutions. Sometimes it’s just trial and error, but other times it is easier to identify the issues and to resolve them. It’s like being a detective and I find that the most intriguing.

Since mid-June, I’ve been working with a client in the financial sector. The company is being acquired and all processes and applications are going through a transition process. For me, this is one of the most interesting parts: navigating through the challenges of a project and aligning to a new governance model and architecture, new processes and procedures.

It takes time to understand the background of all stakeholders and how you should approach each of them. I have to understand their expectations, challenges, and motivations in order to pinpoint the issues that need more attention and develop a strategy.

The most important thing is to understand what you are delivering and care for the end-user.

That sounds challenging! Can you share how life at EPAM is from a learning experience perspective?

We have a wide range of learning resources and opportunities. Throughout the short amount of time I have spent at EPAM, I have already tackled some technical training in Agile, Cloud, and Project management.

There are significant opportunities for different culture exposure too. People from all over the world meet here to deliver projects and products to customers. I am lucky in this regard, as this is maybe one of the most interesting forms of work: meeting with such a diverse group of people and working together. Collaboration is key and this is well understood in EPAM.

In my view, it’s important not only for the company, but for every project manager to continue to learn and develop themselves. This will help them deliver better, take care of their teams better, and make sure all our stakeholders and clients are happy.

When you are working, what moments make you think: “I love being a Project Manager”?

Whenever I’m working on a project, all I care about is delivery, and this includes everything related to it: end-product, processes, team collaboration, happy customers and solutions found whenever issues arise. Maintaining a positive and relaxed attitude is sometimes key, especially when confronted with difficult situations.

When we reach our goal and the hard work has paid off, it’s time to breathe in, breathe out, and start all over again. That is why I love being a Project Manager.

How is working from home for you? What do you enjoy most?

I loved it at first, but then it felt a little overwhelming after some time without office social life. There certainly are some advantages that come with it, like having the ability to organize my day differently and more efficiently now. The lack of traffic and long drives is a big plus. I am also able to be closer to my kids, which is very important for our little family. I’d say I am 95% adapted to working from home now and have gained a lot on a personal level. It has helped me find a better balance between my professional and personal life.

However, starting with a new company and onboarding in this period can be challenging. My previous experience with working in corporations and globally distributed teams has helped me to adapt myself quickly to a new environment.  My fear of the unknown was quickly let go after joining EPAM, as everyone was so supportive and made sure I had all the information I needed to make my transition smoother. Changing your job, especially in a pandemic, can be risky and trigger a great deal of stress due to the unknown and the inability to predict your next steps. You always wonder how things are going to unveil in a new environment. But I consider myself a proud #EPAMer now thanks to my colleagues.

If you were to convince someone to join EPAM, what would you say?

If you are ready to take your career to the next level and have the confidence, you will succeed, this is the place for you. Be brave! It’s worth it!

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