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Spotlight Series: Roxana Dobrescu, CPO, commercetools

Roxana Dobrescu

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Meet Roxana Dobrescu, CPO at commercetools! Roxana sits down with us to chat about her career journey into tech, walk us through an average day at work and shares her career advice for other women in tech.

Roxana Dobrescu is Chief People Officer at commercetools, the leading provider in composable commerce.

Passionate about fostering diversity and inclusion, she champions initiatives to empower women in tech, recognising the importance of addressing imposter syndrome and skill-building to drive meaningful change in the industry.

Roxana actively participates in various DE&I initiatives, including women in STEM programmes and serving on the European Women on Boards programme.

How did you land your current role? Was it planned?

I had the opportunity to meet Dirk, our CEO, as well as some of the other c-suite executives, and it became evident from the start that there was a synergy of ideas, and openness to new ones as the company grows. I instantly resonated with the culture of authenticity throughout the company. A couple of board interviews later and a trip to Munich –– I knew that commercetools was not just a company, but a community committed to rewriting the rules within the commerce market. After that, my decision was an easy one. 

Roxana Dobrescu

What are the key roles in your field of work, and why did you choose your current expertise?

In the world of people and culture, I play a pivotal role that is akin to a conductor in an orchestra. My ‘People’ team works to shape and foster a company culture of innovation, empathy, and authenticity, while also nurturing an environment where everyone feels valued and empowered to achieve their full potential. Crafting hiring and talent strategies and enabling our global leaders are key aspects of my role. It’s not just a job but a passion, blending ethical leadership practices, talent-spotting initiatives, and embracing the unexpected.

Did you (or do you) have a role model in tech or business in general?

Although I don’t have a single role model, I have had the privilege to learn from exceptional individuals throughout my professional journey. During my tenure at Avon, Razvan Diratian, who was the CEO of Avon Romania & Moldova at that time, provided me with unwavering support and invaluable lessons in leading a business. Similarly, Anna Krasnodebska-Piontek, the CEE HR Leader at Avon, demonstrated with grace and strength the significance of nurturing a team culture founded on emotional intelligence and courage. I also had the opportunity to work with Pauline Macdonald from Aspen Global, Mauritius, whose resilience and compassionate approach to leadership left a lasting impression on me. Their guidance and support shaped my leadership style, emphasising integrity and resilience.

What are you most proud of in your career, so far?

It’s hard to distill into just one moment or achievement, but if I had to choose, I’d say it’s the culmination of experiences and values that have shaped me into the leader I am today. Maintaining integrity has been paramount. I prioritize staying true to my principles, even in tough decisions. Transparency and doing what’s right are non-negotiables for me.

I am immensely proud to see commercetools make significant strides in growing its business while also nurturing its workforce. Last year, we reached key milestones, achieving our goals of driving responsible and substantial growth, setting new records, and expanding our business across the Americas, Europe, and APAC.

Crucially, our achievements would not have been possible without our dedicated team. We have employees across five continents in 35 countries, representing 66 nationalities. This diverse blend of cultures, perspectives, and experiences has created an exceptional work environment. Earlier this year, this unique culture was recognized when we were awarded Built In’s 2024 ‘Best Place to Work,’ and most recently, we were recognized as a top 10 software company in London –– a testament to our distinctive workplace and talented team.

What does an average workday look like for you?

My average workday is a mix of structured routines and dynamic challenges. It usually starts with my morning ritual: a splash of lemon water followed by a turbo-charged cup of black coffee to jumpstart the engines. I manage projects, handle urgent matters, and make time for creative tasks like writing and strategizing. Flexibility is crucial for unexpected events. Amidst it all, I balance my role as a wife and mom, juggling school meetings and sports activities. If I can fit in time for a run or workout, it’s a successful day.

What’s keeping me busy now is the rollout of several internal programs such as a new leadership development program called commercetools LEAD. This supports our leaders throughout their journey, empowering them with the skills and knowledge to manage effectively and make a meaningful impact no matter where they are in their leadership journey. We are also preparing to roll out our Women in Leadership program, designed for women in the organisation aspiring to become leaders. The program aims to empower women at commercetools by providing them with the resources and support needed to navigate their career progression and achieve their aspirations. The program receives enthusiastic sponsorship from the entire executive team, embodying a collective commitment to championing women’s leadership journeys. Another key project for us this year is Global Heart, Local Smart aiming to define our very unique commecetools workstyle: being part of a global, flexible company with meaningful in-person connection. 

Are there any specific skills or traits that you notice companies look for when you’re searching for roles in your field?

In leadership roles within my field, the focus extends beyond mere qualifications to align with company values and growth. For HR professionals, learning agility is paramount, reflecting a commitment to continuous growth. In scale-up environments, robust communication and project management skills are crucial for effectively conveying strategies and navigating rapid change. Agility, resilience, and the ability to thrive in a fast-paced setting are key attributes for success for any HR role within hyper-growth organizations.

Has anyone ever tried to stop you from learning and developing in your professional life, or have you found the tech sector supportive?

In my experience, I’ve never encountered anyone hindering my learning or growth, particularly in the tech sector. The industry has been incredibly supportive, embracing mistakes as learning opportunities and valuing adaptability. I’ve deliberately chosen companies that prioritise continuous development, contributing significantly to my professional journey. Integrity and a sense of humor are non-negotiables for me, but curiosity is what keeps me going.  Being surrounded by people who are just as hungry for knowledge and growth as I am has been an absolute game-changer.

Have you ever faced insecurities and anxieties during your career, and how did you overcome them?

Insecurities and anxieties have been constant companions, but internal dialogue, authenticity, and support from my ‘village’ have helped me overcome them.

Entering the world of work can be daunting. Do you have any words of advice for anyone feeling overwhelmed?

Entering the world of work can indeed feel overwhelming, but remember, you’re not alone in feeling this way. My advice for anyone who’s feeling daunted is simple: take it one step at a time. If you’re just starting out in your career, focus on demonstrating your can-do attitude, your willingness to dive in and get your hands dirty, and your genuine passion for what you do. Stay humble, observe those around you, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Celebrate small victories along the way and use them as stepping stones to further success. It’s important to recognize that feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of the journey for everyone at some point. When it happens to you, don’t be afraid to speak up. Reach out to your leader for support, take advantage of the resources available to you, and don’t hesitate to negotiate deadlines or take some time off to regroup if needed. And remember to breathe. You’ve got this.

What advice would you give other women wanting to reach their career goals in technology?

For women in technology, building a strong network, seeking mentorship, and actively supporting each other is vital for career advancement. Employee resource groups and participation in tech events can provide valuable support and resources. Together, we can pave the way for greater success and inclusivity within the tech industry.

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