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From Medieval Fencing to HR Leadership, A Journey of Resilience and Growth

"My journey has taught me the importance of adaptability, resilience, and staying ahead of emerging HR trends...fueled by continuous professional development, seeking out mentorship, pursuing advanced certifications, and educational opportunities."

Clara Ionescu, My Work & Life Team Lead, France

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Do you have any interesting hobbies that you do outside work?

For the past two years, I've been immersed in medieval fencing with a longsword. This unique practice, known as Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA), involves reconstructing combat techniques from various historical periods. It's not just a sport for me — it's a journey of building strength, conquering fears, making friends, and exploring new places through international tournaments.

What one thing from practicing HEMA that you think you can also apply in your work/personal life?

Each HEMA competition is a series of rounds, and the goal is to accumulate enough points to win. It's a rollercoaster of wins and losses. The key is to stay resilient and approach each round with a fresh perspective, regardless of the previous outcomes. This mindset has proven successful, even when I started at a disadvantage. It's a lesson in never giving up and always finding a way to bounce back.

How has your HR career agenda evolved from being a HEMA practitioner to driving your HR career?

My HR career has evolved significantly, mirroring the diverse roles I've taken on. I started with the basics, focusing on core HR functions like recruitment and training. As I gained experience, my development expanded, encompassing strategic HR initiatives. Today, my growth agenda is all about driving innovation, fostering a culture of continuous learning, and leveraging HR as a strategic partner. My journey has taught me the importance of adaptability, resilience, and staying ahead of emerging HR trends. This evolution has been fueled by continuous professional development, seeking out mentorship, pursuing advanced certifications, and educational opportunities. As I move forward, I'm focused on further honing my leadership skills, driving HR innovation, and making a meaningful impact on organizational culture and employee experience. My growth agenda is now centered on elevating the HR function to be a strategic driver of business success.


What was your personal motivation for pursuing a career in HR?

My passion for a career in HR is deeply rooted in my genuine desire to connect with individuals and help them thrive. As a naturally empathetic person, I find fulfillment in understanding others' viewpoints and assisting them throughout their professional journeys. The opportunity to play a role in the growth and well-being of individuals within an organizational setting deeply resonates with me. I strongly believe that investing in people fosters a positive work environment and drives organizational success. Driven by my aspiration to see individuals flourish, I am dedicated to utilizing my HR skills and expertise to facilitate meaningful connections, nurture talent, and create avenues for personal and professional growth.

Can you share some unique experiences or moments that have shaped your HR career growth?

Throughout my career in HR, I have been fortunate to have several experiences that have significantly influenced my professional growth. One of the most impactful moments was when I took charge of a cultural transformation initiative in a company going through substantial organizational changes. This experience challenged me to navigate various perspectives and encouraged me to foster collaboration among different teams. It pushed me to develop innovative solutions and significantly enhanced my skills in change management. Additionally, leading a mentorship program allowed me to witness first-hand the profound impact of nurturing talent and supporting professional development. These experiences emphasized the critical importance of adaptability, resilience, and continuous learning in the ever-evolving field of HR, molding me into a flexible and strategic HR professional.

Can you provide some tips or advice for individuals looking to grow their careers in HR?

Here are my personal tips for those who aspire to grow their careers in HR and make them more rewarding and fulfilling.

  • Continuous Learning: Stay updated on industry trends, best practices, and emerging technologies through workshops, seminars, and online courses.
  • Networking: Build a strong professional network within the HR community by attending industry events, joining HR associations, and connecting with peers on platforms like LinkedIn.
  • Specialization: Consider specializing in a specific area of HR such as talent acquisition, employee relations, or HR analytics to deepen your expertise and stand out in the field.
  • Seek Mentorship: Find a mentor within the HR field who can provide guidance, support, and valuable insights based on their experience.
  • Gain Practical Experience: Look for opportunities to take on challenging projects, cross-functional assignments, or volunteer for HR-related initiatives to broaden your skill set and demonstrate your capabilities.
  • Embrace Technology: Stay abreast of HR technology trends and leverage tools and software to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and enhance decision-making.
  • Develop Soft Skills: Cultivate strong communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills, as these are essential for success in HR roles.
  • Ethical Practice: Maintain high ethical standards and integrity in all your interactions and decisions, as trust and credibility are crucial in HR.


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