With Romania having the first woman to ever hold the Presidency of the Senate and having noticed that women play an increasing role both in public and private sector, either by holding C-level positions or being members of the board, Business Review invites you to discover the professional stories of outstanding women who have spectacular results and who built their career in fields which are known to be dominated by men.
Having had the opportunity to work in both real estate and banking – two fields where executive roles tend to be dominated by men, Fulga Dinu, Country Manager for Operations at Immofinanz Romania, is lucky enough to have seen many of her professional dreams come true.
By Anda Sebesi
Fulga Dinu studied financing and investment at the City University of New York, from which she graduated summa cum laudae. Her life’s dream was to work on Wall Street, and it quickly came true: she started her career in investment banking at JP Morgan. In 2001, she returned to Romania and developed the real estate financing department at HVB Bank, at a time when the market was just starting to take shape. She then became Country Manager at Eurohypo AG, a bank that was part of Commerzbank and specialised in real estate financing. This move allowed her to grow along with the market and be involved in high-profile projects on all segments, from office to residential, retail, and logistics.
At the beginning of 2018, she took over as Country Manager Operations at Immofinanz Romania. “This change came naturally in my professional development, confirming my constant need for transformation and development. At the moment, my career is meeting all my expectations, especially because I have moved to the ‘other side’ of the business, taking on the role of investor, which allows me to deepen my understanding and adopt a much more detailed view of the business,” Dinu says. However, she thinks that this level of performance can only be achieved together with a highly skilled and fully dedicated team, which she has and truly appreciates, as well as by putting in a lot of hard work and commitment, things that naturally derive from the passion she has for her work.
Talking about gender equality in the real estate sector, Dinu says that compared to the early 2000s, when she started out in this field, there are many more women in top positions, especially in Eastern Europe. “However, real estate is still a male-dominated industry, but I believe that top performance can be achieved regardless of gender, in any field, through solid professional training and managerial talent. We live in an age of equal opportunity, of tolerance, where gender or nationality no longer matter, and this means that strong, remarkable, and inspirational women have a much better opportunity to make their voices heard,” she adds.
While she admits that the banking and real estate industries are rather conservative and predominantly masculine, Fulga Dinu strongly believes that solid knowledge and strong managerial skills are key to every woman’s success. “A good professional cannot hold a top management role without the skills of foresight, planning, coordination, and control. A top manager must be able to take responsibility and make important decisions, carry out in-depth analysis, be creative, and very importantly, always work to motivate and inspire the team they lead,” the Immofinanz executive argues.
Dinu also points out that even though it may be challenging for a woman to work in a business sector dominated by men, gender doesn’t really matter as long as an individual’s professional approach demonstrates competence and efficiency. “I’ve never thought that I might have been treated differently if I were a man. It just so happens that my professional path has taken me through areas which have traditionally been male-dominated, namely banking and real estate. However, being a woman was never a problem for me; on the contrary, I believe that in my line of business, it can actually represent an advantage,” Dinu notes. “In fact, I started to openly express my opinions and make my voice heard and listened to very early in my career,” she adds.
Female leadership on upward trend
While Dinu says she has never felt treated differently as a top executive due to her gender, she acknowledges the fact that salary discrepancies sometimes still exist between men and women. But the good news is that we’ve been seeing a rise of the woman-led business community, both locally and internationally. There is a growing number of exceptional business women, real professionals who make very good managers and create extraordinary things. These women are getting the respect they truly deserve and are wonderful
examples for us all. “In today’s business world, I am happy to see women bringing creative perspectives, ideas, and innovative experiences that lead to better decisions in companies, takes a great deal of courage for them to make themselves heard, but this is essential, because women certainly have a lot of important opinions and ideas to share with the world, and they can definitely make the world a better place,” Dinu argues.
According to the Immofinanz representative, any woman who holds not only a C level position but also an A level one, can transform intrinsic traits such as multi-tasking, analytical thinking, vision or planning into professional advantages. Women can be much more analytical in certain contexts, but they are also more emotional at times. But skills that are traditionally associated with women like empathy, empowerment, emotional intelligence, and instinct-based action are now considered valuable in business. “For example, women are viewed as better able to manage people and situations during stressful times and they are thought to be better positioned to manage a crisis because they tend to be more intuitive, understanding, and empathetic than men. We can therefore see why feminine traits are becoming strengths in today’s business world. Emotional intelligence is essential in understanding both people and markets, as well as in communicating effectively.”
Big challenges lead to big rewards
As a top executive, Dinu says that making sure that she makes the right decisions and that she can live with them afterwards is the biggest challenge she faces. “I’ve always believed that any decision is better than no decision,” she explains. Then there is the challenge of keeping a balance between professional and personal matters. “I want these two essential components of my life to harmoniously intertwine, and more often than not, that’s what happens. There are very demanding periods at times, when I dedicate myself almost entirely to my career, but family restores my balance and gives me the strength to move on.”
Dinu highlights the fact that her great performance as a leader has derived from building a wonderful, fully dedicated team. “I have always counted on the people in my team, whom I respect and am very proud of. Mutual trust, honesty, and loyalty are all at the foundation of this beautiful team of mine.” She notes that her leadership style involves always being close to people on the team, always approaching them with a smile, and shielding them from stress and tension as much as possible. Asked about the most difficult moment in her career, the Immofinanz Country Manager puts it simply: “I generally believe that any difficult moment can be overcome by making the right decisions at the right time. However, people management is to me one of the hardest and sensitive things to handle, so I put extra effort and care into it.”
Family role models
Fulga Dinu’s mother and her grandmothers were role models who inspired her both personally and professionally. “My mother helped me become the person I am today. I learned something important from each of them and looked up to them while I was growing up. They were all strong women, but sensitive at the same time, they always stood up for themselves, expressed their opinions, and were extremely dedicated to their families. They showed me how to be dignified, but also how to make compromises when I need to. They also taught me not to miss out on opportunities, and this helped me find my path not only in my career, but also in motherhood,” she concludes.