Ever wonder what makes a great IT manager? What are the qualities that give them the power to coordinate, supervise, select, reward, hire, or fire employees? Are they sensible to perceptions? How much do soft skills matter when you want to keep the team united? How do they gather the broken pieces and put them back together when encountering failures? What motivates them?
Cristian Anghel, Customer Success Manager at Pentalog Bucharest, answered all my questions. I will share my findings with you, and you’ll meet a one-of-a-kind, very energetic, and results-oriented IT manager.
Life Has a Funny Way of Arranging Things
“All we need is just a little patience,” says a popular Guns N’ Roses tune. I didn’t pick this quote randomly. Besides the fact that Cristi can play the electric guitar like crazy, I really think there’s a lot to learn from such an extract: working your way steadily and relentlessly, whether in your personal or professional life, will bring you the results you were hoping for. Patience goes hand in hand with consistency, perseverance, and decisiveness.
“I’m most proud of the way I built my career. I can’t really say that I had an inspiration in this area. Somehow, I figured it out pretty early in my life what path to choose and how to carry on. As a young man, I knew that only by studying my ass off will I become somebody.”
And he did! Cristi graduated from the Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology in Bucharest, top of his class, although his initial plan was different.
“I pretty much ended up studying Electronics because, when I went with my mom to enroll in The Faculty of Automatic Control and Computer Sciences, we found the longest queue possible. It would have taken us forever to get to the front. So, I made the decision right there, on the spot, to give the other faculty a chance. My luck was that the building was more isolated on campus, and I managed to submit my files quickly. I entered college with the highest score.”
Thirsty for knowledge and motivated by his scholarship colleagues, Cristi got his Master’s Degree in “Radio-communications, Microwave and Optical Communications,” an area he is passionate about, and then applied for a Ph.D. in “Electronics and Telecommunications.”
While studying, he started teaching at the Politehnica University, first as a University Assistant, and now as Associate Professor in the Telecommunications Department. All while he worked full-time and cared for his family.
Many years of hard work followed with restless nights, intense business trips, and successful project launches. But Cristi is grateful for every opportunity despite his hectic lifestyle: “I think that all of the activities keep me motivated and match perfectly to my mind and soul’s needs.”
Cristi is a talented VHDL (a hardware description language) and C++ programmer who displayed many useful management soft skills. At Pentalog, he was Team Leader, Customer Support Product Manager, Project Director, and Practice Manager before being appointed Customer Success Manager in 2017.
Each career stage brought him even more know-how and recognition, things that he used to attract new colleagues (many of them are former students) and empower people with the right set of skills to take ownership of new projects.
“Those who have worked with me for a long time know that I value teamwork and honesty. At Pentalog, we encourage people to say what they think so that we can build the right environment. I am quite content with the outcome so far, although being Customer Success Manager in these difficult times is quite challenging.”
As IT Manager, Cristi has many exciting work tales under his belt: recruitment failures, project outcomes, heated discussions with partners to nail down important deals, a successful office relocation for his team in Bucharest etc. Not to mention, he’s a gifted storyteller! No wonder he is a highly appreciated professor at the university!
“I could go on for hours talking about my career! Bottom line: I have always focused on having the best results and a happy team.”
Keeping workmates motivated is not always easy. Although friendly, cheerful, and positive, ever since he became a Customer Success Manager at Pentalog Bucharest, Cristi experienced many “aha” moments. Sometimes, people disappointed him, while others gave him hope, encouraging him to carry on.
“Working with people is something that I really love. I think that I still have many things to learn from them, no matter the level. But sometimes, for a systemic mindset like mine, their unpredictable behavior pushes all my buttons and makes me snap. But again, people who know me well are aware that it’s not like me to hold a grudge.”
Cristi still remembers his first employee, who quit more than three years ago. As a Customer Success Manager, he is responsible for deciding the teams’ structures, but when people quit, Cristi wants to know what went wrong:
“I understood along the way that people, beyond what they would tell you face-to-face, are not necessarily honest for many reasons. And there’s nothing I can do about it.”
His main objective as IT Manager is to keep a steady pace regarding team and project evolution. At the beginning of 2020, the Bucharest team moved into a new office space, thinking that they would continue to grow. The Covid-19 pandemic changed plans, but Cristi is excited to navigate difficult times and says that together with his team, they will remain determined while doing their best job to keep clients satisfied.
“We’re facing new challenges now, and clients have even bigger expectations.”
(To be continued. Keep an eye on us for the following episode of the series!)