Interviews

In conversation with: Elena Ardelean

By 13 August 2020 No Comments

We’re extremely excited to announce we now have a consultant presence in Austria. Elena Ardelean is leading our expansion into Central and Eastern Europe from Vienna, as of August 2020. Please do get in touch to discuss any opportunities for collaboration in the region, and see our interview with Elena below!

1. What is your career background?

In general, I like to call myself a rule changer and this applies also to my career. I am a development economist by training who likes to work at the intersection between people, technology, and governments. Many years ago, I began my professional path in the private sector working as a strategy consultant after which I have joined the international organisations’ ecosystem. I have worked for the European Investment Bank (EIB), the World Bank, and other UN Agencies, mainly leading governance reform programmes. This work led to me to founding and running a tech non-profit Artificial Intelligence 4 Development Agency (AIDA). As you see, one could consider my path atypical but always changing the rules of the game in favour of value creation.

2. How did you find out about Oxford HR?

I found out about Oxford HR a long time ago when I was still a student and following the job market moods in the international development sector. The firm stood out by its mission and values; I subscribed to the newsletter and have not let go since. Today, I am extremely pleased to be part of an extraordinary experienced team.

3. What qualities make a dream candidate?

For me, a dream candidate brings authenticity which implies having a deep understanding of her/his strengths and weaknesses. This is crucial for both sides, the candidate and the recruiter, and key to assess organisational fit. Then, there are a series of other crucial traits that differentiate a good candidate from a great one, for instance, emotional intelligence, being informed about the role and organisation, honesty, motivation and accountability.

4. Which organisation would you love to place a role for and why?

As I have worked myself for many years for international and European organisations, such as the World Bank, UN Agencies or the EIB, I still feel very close to their specific organisational culture and vision. I am confident that I am able to find great talent and support them in achieving their goals.

5. What role do you think AI will play in the future of HR and Executive Search?

We live in what I like to call the Era of AI and if I were to give it a definition, I would say that AI is the industrial revolution which affects the intellectual services. And of course, AI is revolutionizing the research and recruitment industry as well. We see major benefits coming from technologies such as machine learning and predictive analytics in terms of data contextualization, speed, and precision. With new tools at hand, and the right balance between machines and humans, executive search firms will strengthen their role as advisor and strategist.

6. About 1.5 years ago you founded AIDA that works with the public and private sector on AI opportunities and challenges. How did you get interested in the AI topic?

I would say that what we do at AIDA is not that much about the technology, AI, as it is about us, the people, and about the profound impact of technological advancements on people. AIDA allows me to bring together 3 areas that have formed my professional life and I am also passionate about: economics, technology, and people. AI is transforming our lives in every way, it transforms the way we interact with each other, the way we conversate, the way we educate our children and the way we interact with our public institutions. It also impacts tremendously the future of work and it shapes the skills for the new jobs of the future that will be created. What we try to do at AIDA is to empower women and youth across the globe by demystifying the concepts of AI, help them understand how AI translates into their lives and ultimately prepare them for the future of work. In MENA and the Gulf region, AIDA was the first organisation to pioneer social awareness and research about AI. We are the proud winners of the Business Excellence Award for “Best Artificial Intelligence (AI) Related Social Enterprise – GCC” & “Tech Non-Profit Organization of the Year – Global”.

7. What do you think the key tools are for promoting female and inclusive leadership in Europe?

There is progress but more and better work must be done to achieve gender balance and inclusiveness in leadership in Europe. And I think Executive Search firms, in particular, have a crucial role to play here. From presenting a gender-balanced and inclusive shortlist to spotting recruitment bias and highlighting visible commitment- all these are extremely important tools to promote female and inclusive leadership in Europe.

8. What are the main differences you found moving between the private and public sectors?

There are major differences between the public and private sectors but also many similarities. In fact, many governments around the world, especially some of the Nordic countries, run their public services on a model that is similar to the private sector. Moreover, these public administrations seek talent from the private sector as there are many potable skills. Some of the differences I found are related to the culture and career path in the private and the public sectors. In the private sector, people tend to change jobs more often to progress careers. In the public sector, there is more of a tendency to stay in the system and plan your career path over a certain (longer) period of time. As for the cultural differences, I would mention mission and values, size, responsibility, and accountability. What is important is that you find a place that is the right fit for you.

Elena brings 12+years of leadership experience in international development, strategic organizational change and disruptive technologies (Artificial Intelligence) working for both the public and private sectors. Romanian by birth, Austrian by family decision and French by own choice, Elena is a multicultural professional currently based in Austria and Kuwait. She is the CEO & Founder of a tech non-profit AI4DevelopmentAgency (AIDA). Previous to that Elena worked as a Governance Specialist for the World Bank across Europe, Central Asia and MENA regions, advising Institutions on a wide range of reforms and activities, including HR policy, strategic management, anti-corruption and tax reforms.

Elena is driven by a sense of purpose and a desire to contribute, add value and shape cultures. As Associate Director for OxfordHR, she is committed to increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in leadership in Europe. Elena holds an Executive MBA and is certified in Machine Learning from Stanford University. She obtained her Master’s degree in International Affairs from Sciences Po Paris and has studied Philology and Cultural Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria.

Tim Brann

Tim Brann

Tim started working with Oxford HR in 2018, having graduated with a BSc in Product Design from Brunel University London. Although initially trained as a Product Designer, he has worked on a diverse range of projects across graphic design, 3D installations and website design and development. Tim has a keen interest in design as a tool for positive social change, especially among children's social care, and has pursued this through previous work for the GravityLight Foundation, small not-for-profit startups, and now at Oxford HR.