When they were teenagers, they wanted to be a tennis player, a pilot and a professional skier. However, life has brought them to lead in three roles that shaped Global Services Center in Romania over the last ten years.
We all know that a company needs people (to be hired, give the best training, be incentivized, etc.), promotion (of people’s skills, capabilities, and commitment to customers around the world), and innovation (like the future-present that lies in the IT & Cloud environment) to build a brand that stays competitive in such a dynamic market as the Telecommunications one is.
Ericsson has always shown leadership in all the above skills and has chosen the best people to represent them. That being said, this new form of communication and the consumer’s need of knowing more about the brands that they are loyal too, an interest in who are behind the big brands, is rising.
The following interview is meant to tell the story behind the top three positions in GSC Romania: Head of Regional Engagement Operate Flow (Razvan Pirvu), Head of Quality and OE and former HR Business Partner (Christos Karabelas) and Head of Cloud and Industry and Society (Morgan L. Lofgren), as well as their dreams, challenges encountered within their roles, best practices gained from their first managers, opinions about the future of Ericsson, and how Millennials generation (Gen-Z) is bringing new ways of working, innovating project ideas and big expectations from the company’s leaders.
[Interviewer]: Going back to the beginning, we all have passions. What did you want to be when you grow up? What challenged you along the way?
[Razvan Pirvu]: When I was a kid (8-12 years of age), I wanted to be a tennis player (it happens when you’re born in Ilie Nastase’s and Bjorn Borg’s era [smiles]), but then I got re-routed by a fencing trainer to another “noble” sport. I have always regretted my decision to drop tennis. In high-school, I wanted to become a computer programmer and I even started working as a Programmer Analyst, but the event that changed my future it’s the MBA program I have been accepted at, after finishing my University.
[Christos Karabelas]: My dream was to become a pilot. What many people don’t know is that I have managed to get the training and the Commercial Pilots License. However, as I could not find a job in the industry, I joined the First Mobile Operator that opened in Greece, TELESTET (now called Wind), and this is how my career in the Telecom Industry begun.
[Morgan L. Lofgren]: One of my greatest passions has always been skiing. I wanted to be a professional skier and I started competing in cross country skiing when I was as a kid.
“We need Millennials and Gen-Z to push us every day to provide them with much faster results and more sharply execution on our plans.”
(Razvan Pirvu, Head of Regional Engagement Operate Flow)
[Interviewer]: What do you remember from your first day at Ericsson?
[Razvan Pirvu]: My first day at Ericsson took place in the small rooms of “Sitraco Towers” – initially a residential unit. I was dressed up in a beige suit with a red color tie (in a company that had a dark color suits dress code in place). My colleagues have also told me that in the first days they’ve perceived me as an “arrogant and stiff young man.” Luckily, we’ve managed to become friends and the image they’ve had about me at the time faded away.
[Christos Karabelas]: My first day at Ericsson took place in Greece and I remember the two weeks training that I had to take. With respect of Ericsson Romania and what I recall from the first days, is the urgency and concern with regards of the big growth expected to take place in GSC Romania, and the management’s expectations required from me, as the HR Head (position held at that time).
[Morgan L. Lofgren]: My first day at Ericsson was in an office in the South-East of Stockholm called Nacka Strand. It was a great office, in a cruiser shape, with big glass windows looking over the water. From one side you could see the big cruising ships and ferry’s passing by. On the other side we had TeliaSonera’s office, one of our biggest customers.
[Interviewer]: Do you recall a best practice from a former manager you’ve considered to be you mentor? Have you applied that to being a manager, too? How did that “something” improve your personal brand and perception in and out of a company?
[Razvan Pirvu]: In one of my previous jobs, before I joined Ericsson, I had a department manager that was continuously stressing me about how important is to a have a proper written and verbal communication with business partners. He unveiled me this “unwritten communication code” that if I ought to use, will help me gain trust and credibility in the eyes of a counterpart. The same manager taught me how to be firm and demanding with a team by using diplomacy and good manners instead of an impolite and “bossy” attitude.
[Christos Karabelas]: I am guided by two phrases. One is “know your numbers” and the second is “always put a dollar value for the cost and benefit you expect to have as a result of any action you take. Always get the buy-in from the stakeholders for a plan prior to proposing it”. These two phrases have helped me in taking the right decisions and executing with speed.
[Morgan L. Lofgren]: Working across Ericsson and different countries, you get to meet a lot of good colleagues and managers that inspire you with their thoughts and ideas. Some of the take away has been to act with professionalism, take a second look at the situation, and even try an inside-out perspective before moving ahead and make decisions.
[Interviewer]: Tell me about a feedback you have received from a customer or colleague that influences you today? What’s the circumstance in which you have received that feedback?
[Razvan Pirvu]: The most rewarding situation for me took place in 2010, when we were bidding for a large contract of the National Broadcaster in Macedonia. The customer’s Managing Director told us. “you have the best offer, but I wanted to personally meet face-to-face with the people that we will need to do business with for next few years.” It was the best exam and the best result I have ever got in sales, as it taught me the importance of the human touch in the direct relationship we have to establish with our customers.
[Christos Karabelas]: A customer once told me that he kept buying from me (back then I was doing sales) as he felt that I was always close to him and gave him the right advise no matter if this was in my favor or not. I have learned then, that understanding and respecting your customer and mostly, the human behind it, is crucial for any business that you are in.
[Morgan L. Lofgren]: “It is going so well,” said by a Senior Executive Manager from one of our biggest customers in one of the customer projects we had in China.
“Understanding and respecting your customer and mostly, the human behind it, is crucial for any business that you are in.”
(Christos Karabelas, Head of Quality and OE)
[Interviewer]: What has been the greatest challenge you’ve had at Ericsson? In what way did you find strength to carry on?
[Razvan Pirvu]: Being patient and perseverant have been my biggest challenges in my first years at Ericsson. I came from a company (MediaPro/Pro TV) where both the owner and the rest of my colleagues were living and working at an extremely high speed (anybody who had something to do with Television knows that). Learning to pursue my objectives and prepare my career moves with a little bit of “Swedish-ness” was not easy, but it paid off…after all, I just celebrated my 17th year at Ericsson.
[Christos Karabelas]: To learn the local market and build a strong team that would fulfill the growing needs with the minimum amount of time. This required a huge commitment and endless hours of work from the whole team, but we found strengths in the passion we had for our job.
[Morgan L. Lofgren]: Culture awareness, it is always challenging to work in an international environment. The first thing you do coming to a new country is to try understanding the “dos and don’ts.” When you have started to understand a little bit the details, you can start to influence.
[Interviewer]: Tell me about a project you’ve been part of that changed people’s (final consumers) daily interaction with technology?
[Razvan Pirvu]: For me, it was the partnership between Vodafone Romania (formerly known as “Connex”) and Ericsson, when they’ve launched GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) in 2000 and 3G in Romania back in 2005. Just so you can understand the huge difference between now and then, try to imagine that we were connecting to our emails or on internet sites via a dial-up mobile connection at 13.3 kbps!!
[Morgan L. Lofgren]: During my years in Africa we had a fiber project deploying fiber to rural areas in Johannesburg, South Africa. This had a big impact, as it provided access to the Internet for 100,000 people, which normally wouldn’t benefit from the new technology.
[Interviewer]: What is something you would like to experience more at Ericsson in the future?
[Razvan Pirvu]: Innovation in all areas of our company is something I feel Ericsson could learn how to do and enable better. We have great R&D teams, but Innovation is not in our DNA across the company.
[Christos Karabelas]: I think that the next thing will be to work with data analytics from the Global Delivery Machine of Ericsson.
[Morgan L. Lofgren]: I have a strong believe in the new technology and how Internet of Things (IoT) can evolve the market as well as our consumer behavior. There is plenty of available technology today that will have a positive impact on our lives. It is also important to consider what impact new technology have on our environment.
“I have a strong believe in the new technology and how Internet of Things (IoT) can evolve the market as well as our consumer behavior.”
(Morgan L. Lofgren, Head of Cloud and Industry and Society)
[Interviewer]: What do you consider to me the main asset of the new generation (Gen-Z) that can help Ericsson move forward?
[Razvan Pirvu]: Impatience and the wish for “instant gratification and results” is something we should all learn how to exploit, for the better future of our company. We need Millennials and Gen-Z to push us every day to provide them with much faster results and more sharply execution on our plans.
[Christos Karabelas]: Ericsson is known for shaping the future with Innovative products and services. It is not an accident that we have more than 39,000 granted patents being the top patent-holder for both LTE and the entire mobile telecom ecosystem. The new generations love technology, and they are extremely open in trying new things as well as to develop new solutions and products. This is exactly what I see as the perfect ‘match’ between Ericsson and the new generations; what I call to be ‘The Future’.
[Morgan L. Lofgren]: One of the takeaways for new generations is the higher knowledge level already from the start. Engineers will already today learn technology and methodologies that took us a few years to learn in the past.
[Interviewer]: What is the advice you would give to new generations seeking your level of professional achievement?
[Razvan Pirvu]: Define a good plan for your life and your career and keep being consistent. Breath your wish to pursue as you advance with your plans, and good things will start happening to you.
[Christos Karabelas]: Have ethics also do what you love and/or love what you do. It is for your life after all.
[Morgan L. Lofgren]: Be patient, good things take time. Have as an ambition to add value, and also dare to fail.
[Interviewer]: What’s next for GSC Romania and the future generation wanting to work at Ericsson or that are already?
[Razvan Pirvu]: Although Ericsson is going through challenging times, I have the confidence that in the coming years its advanced services and solutions as well as the IT&C industry development will bring GSC Romania its well-deserved recognition in the Romanian market.
[Christos Karabelas]: GSC Romania has already a great reputation within Ericsson for its great quality service and fast reaction in projects’ delivery. Customers from around the world specifically ask to work with us in IT and Telecom related projects. With 5G and IoT era just around the corner, existing or new employees joining us, will be part of many opportunities and unique projects that will help us all acquire even more fantastic knowledge.
[Morgan L. Lofgren]: More focus on new Technologies such as 5G, IoT and Media. This will drive the interest and keep the GSC as well as Ericsson in a leading position.