I met Alina Bota 2 years ago at Cluj Hub during the networking break of a presentation about marketing. She gave me her business card and since then I have been looking with interest and admiration at all the projects she is involved in and the courses she organizes in various cities across the country.
Last year I attended one of her courses. It was an interesting workshop where the idea of this project was born. That’s why I promised myself that Alina would be the first entrepreneur I would write about on peopleoftransylvania.com
Hello, Alina! I’m happy to write these lines about you. Please tell us more about you. Who are you and what are you doing?
Hello Andrei! I’m very happy that you decided to start this project. I’m happy every time I see that I can help people follow their passions that can be turned into sustainable businesses that generate money.
“I believe that every man has at least one talent that can help him earn a living, if he has the courage to use it and to improve it through work”.
Basically, this is what I do: I help young entrepreneurs start their business. I am an entrepreneur, a former finance executive. I believe in continuous education, in family and financial independence and I believe that a new generation of entrepreneurs will change Romania for the better.
I believe that you can have a good life in Romania if you are educated, if you have abilities that can be put at work. And I also believe that every man has at least one talent that can help him earn a living, if he has the courage to use it and to develop it through work.
Before we talk about your business experience, tell us a little about your childhood. Where and how did you grow up?
I was born in Hunedoara, both of my parents are from Transylvania. But I spent most of my vacations in the countryside, at my grandparents’ house in Alba County. That is where I formed my personality, between the hills of Mureş. And that is where I learned the values I have never forgotten and that shaped my entire life.
In the villages of Transylvania it’s very important to be diligent, to be good and to work. You must have a good reputation otherwise people start talking bad about you. “Keep your name clean and get out with dignity from any situation that affects you honor” – this is the lesson I was taught by my family so I have always followed this principle both in my personal life and in business. I think that’s where this entire thing with personal branding started for me.
I received a solid education at home. My father was a teacher and he taught me that I can do anything if I set my mind to it. You know how they say: mothers teach you the love, fathers teach you the confidence. It’s a matter of positioning and attitude, and I have always positioned myself as a leader.
Tell us about your career. How it all started? What were your first steps in business?
My first step in business was pure madness. One of my neighbors from Timisoara worked as a marketing director on television. I admired her a great deal for that. At that time marketing was something very exotic and little known in Romania.
“I went to the company, knocked at the door, and told them I wanted to be a marketing director. I had no appointment and I had no background in the field”.
She told me that the people at Evenimentul Zilei were looking for a competent marketing director and recommended me to go to an interview. I went to them, knocked at the door, and told them I wanted to be a marketing director. I had no appointment and I had no background in the field.
“You have no marketing experience and you have not even worked in the media. Why should we hire you?” they asked me. “No, but you have poor results and I can help you make more money”, I answered and I showed them the ads that appeared in the newspaper that day. It was a foolish thing to do like most of the things you do when you’re 20 years old. I don’t know what I was thinking.
The fact is that they hired me. I worked as a Marketing Director at Evenimentul Zilei and I learned a lot about the press, about marketing and about sales. I made partnerships with the press at national level and created a regional newspaper distributed in the West part of the country.
How did you leave the press and how did you transition to organizing trainings with hundreds of participants?
Evenimentul Zilei decided that they did not need the Western edition. They closed a project that proved to be very profitable, a project I believed in with all my heart, so I went to work for Ziua de Vest, but I could implement any new projects there. Rumors had it that the newspaper would be sold so I started looking for new projects. I saw an ad about an American company looking for a trainer for their employees from the western part of the country. The company was called AIG Life and it was a multinational corporation in the insurance business.
The job description sounded very exotic, because in Romania we had no such thing as a trainer. I applied for a regional trainer position, but I was hired as an executive. The fact that I went to work for them was the best decision I made in my entire career.
AIG has invested a lot in me. I attended dozens of top courses with international trainers who helped tremendously. I gained a lot of people skills: management, communication, sales, leadership, recruitment, supervision, training, etc.
Over the years I coordinated teams at Allianz, Generali, KD and Aegon. I worked hard, recruited and coordinated sales teams and created and implemented new projects. I held thousands of trainings across the country, traveled across Europe and the world. I made strategic partnerships between insurance companies and brokers or banks and I sold everything: tangible products and “air, space and dreams” as we like to call them. That is, advertisements in printed press, radio and life insurance.
Over the years I lived in Timisoara, Deva, Cluj-Napoca and Bucharest. I started many times from 0, both in my career and in personal life, but I was never afraid. I always knew I would succeed.
“Transylvania is a brand associated with many positive qualities. We are admired by other Romanians and considered serious, educated, and hardworking”.
Do you think that the fact that you are from Transylvania helped you in your career? And if it did, how exactly?
Definitely yes! It helped me both in my career and in my personal life. I always recommended myself as a Transylvanian and I was well received because of that. This is dues to the fact that Transylvania is a brand associated with many positive qualities.
We are admired by Romanian from other regions of the country and we are perceived as serious, educated, and hardworking. These are the values associated with the people Transylvania. Besides that, the Transylvanian accent has the power to make hearts melt and doors open. Imagine a room of 200-300 people who smile when they hear your accent. Not to mention that my daughter was a school star in Bucharest because of her accent.
How did you start your entrepreneurial career? And why did you decide to leave the corporate area?
I decided that it was the right time to do something on my own. I had the experience, the expertise, the age and the required money to position myself as an entrepreneur. I’ve always been hungry for education, so I’ve learned a lot. I decided it was time to move on and pass my knowledge to other people. That’s how LevelUp came about – a project about business consultancy.
The corporate environment is very competitive and challenging, but a job in a corporation takes all your time and your creative energy. You do not have time and energy for your family and for the loved ones. This is one of the reasons why I encourage young people to start a business on their own.
I teach young people how to promote themselves, how to start a business correctly without losing time and money. Essentially, career evolution is similar to a computer game: if you want to get to the next level, you need knowledge and skills. Knowledge and skills are paid either with time or money.
Practical education can be learned from people who worked in the frontline, the people who had to deal with problems and led teams. My best teachers were not motivational speakers but successful managers or ordinary people. I learned from their experience more that I could ever learn from a book.
“I help moms channel their creativity into a business concept that allows them to make money and spend time at home at the same time. Families are thus happier and more united”.
What is the project you love the most and why?
The project I love most is Mamprenoare – a LevelUp concept created especially for mothers who want to become entrepreneurs. It is known that during pregnancy, mothers become very creative. I help them channel this creativity into a business concept that allows them to make money and spend time at home at the same time. Families are thus happier and more united.
I encourage moms to take their children at my courses. I do not mind if a child plays with my dress during the course or if a baby babbles while I’m talking. In my opinion, Cluj has the most powerful group of mothers in Romania. Cluj is a city with very many young families and educated parents who have entrepreneurial potential.
By encouraging the women entrepreneurs, we encourage young families to follow this direction. And the children who will be educated in this culture are our chance for a better future. I am sure that if we invest in this generation, Romania will develop on the entrepreneurial side, and this will be beneficial for all of us. I will quote a mother entrepreneur from Bucharest, a former banker: “When people live in prosperity, they think of their peers and about their country. You cannot do charity and civic work on an empty stomach”.