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A graduate of Cybernetics, Managing Partner of a company providing SAP solutions , Irina Oprea is the best argument that technology is not at all a man's world . The desire for independence, interest in the business and the ability to balance professional and personal lives permanently issues that have guided steps into a world difficult but rewarding .

What made you decide to choose entrepreneurship soon after graduation ? You've had an example in the family? How did you start as an entrepreneur and why IT ?

Luckily for me, I had examples of entrepreneurship in the family, my father being involved in a technology company. From here, I had the desire, direction and obviously support of loved ones, whom I thank . Choosing the faculty was influenced by this context. I opted for a technical , but also economic orientation, therefore I graduated Cybernetics, Informatics within ASE . During college I made contact with the ERP systems in the USA subsequently worked with SAP Business One and Microsoft Retail , which made me understand the importance of business solutions for the productivity of a company. On returning home I continued working with partners in the US, and then I tried to apply on their own overseas experience .

Thus, in 2007 I entered into a project of SAP Business One to a Romanian company, where i executed the training along with a French partner . This company is my client today. After this project i founded the company System Innovation Romania , in association with SAP partner in Denmark . We reached such a niche in the Romanian market , making the localization of the system, but I accessed the international market through a partner with superior access to know-how and experience in a mature market .

What is the profile of the company you run ?

We offer consulting and implementation of business solutions for small and medium companies, both local companies and branches or representative offices of foreign companies and to companies in foreign markets. Customers and revenue are coming equally from local and international market. The portfolio of solutions covers financial and operational management, sales and customer management, analysis and reporting etc.

We also orient towards their products, and I mean the components (add- on) for SAP Business One to allow, for example , integration with various banking services. Complementary, we have a development team which provides services on demand for SAP Business One other partners in Europe. Today, the local team has reached 12 people , while the number of customers is passing 60 .

What did you want from this business ?

I wanted to do what I like, to fix people's needs, i can offer a solution to the current problems. I like to have this satisfaction, but also to learn something new constantly . IT is the most dynamic industry, constantly takes you out of the routine, every project is a new challenge that we learn more from customers, but equally we teach them. Also, I love entrepreneurship and financial independence , even if it comes with responsibility and risks. Many believe that entrepreneurship means pampering and luxury, but often the entrepreneur puts the company team and clients wishes and needs before his .

What are the prospects of the business ?

I want to grow the business that it becomes stable and functional in my absence. I feel that I am on the right path. Already things happen that i’m not directly involved in: quotations , sales, projects, etc., which shows autonomy of the team and I very much enjoy.

In future we want to expand to other foreign markets , but brick by brick to build a solid foundation.

What motivates you in the business? You ever think maybe it is not just a choice for the future for a woman?

International market development motivates me, especially because , local , things did not go the same speed, which can be frustrating sometimes. I try to bring as many of the mature markets issues, solutions, new releases , best practices, implementation methods , alternative local solutions etc. Increasing the number of customers and team are other goals that I set in motion. The financial part is in the background. I'm a woman in this business that is apparently for men. I have never felt this as a challenge or as if I had something to prove from this perspective.

How difficult is it to manage such a business ?

It is difficult, because you have to dedicate time to grow your skills and your knowledge base in various areas - management, marketing , sales , project management , technical .

Which are your personal strengths as a manager ?

Ask my team . The most important thing for me is that i’m part of the team and we work side by side, and technically, we can count on each other. Nothing can be done without team mates to be together, to understand, to transfer the trust and responsibility, and, today, the company would not be at this level without dedication and involvement of people with whom I work . Entrepreneurship is not a one man show but a team game.

How do you relate to the idea of leadership? Who marked as leader?

I can not say I have a model. I liked some. Bill Gates is one of them. I read his books. I follow the success stories of others , not just in IT but also in other areas and find them inspirational .

Beyond the choice of models , I would say that networking is the most important. It matters very much who you associate with and who you share your vision and plans with.

There have been difficult times ?

Yes, of course, they are all the time, it is important to find solutions. I went through , thankfully. I have created a casuistry of the difficult moments that I went, and it motivates me much. Entrepreneurship is a job for 24 hours a day, I have reached the level where I can stop at 8:00 at the office, to respect a program. However, there are times, especially when we start a project, I often work weekends.
It was difficult to reconcile entrepreneurship with birth and raising a child . The maximum challenge ... and baby makes entrepreneurship to become priority number two. I thought sometimes to change the entrepreneurship with role of employee, but not so much that I get to submit resumes. I would like to have other experiences in foreign companies .

When you feel like you hit the jackpot ?

It's not happened yet. I think I never get to the right level , are permanent stairs to climb.

What brings you joy in life ?

Time spent with family and friends . Travel, vacations .


Interview by Maria Niculescu


* Article published in Business Woman Magazine , issue 69

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