Simona on the Path to Coaching, Mentoring and Leading a Team
Yardi’s Global Solutions department is made up of a growing number of wonderful people, many of whom have been with the team since its very beginnings, back in 2011. Simona Lehene, the QA Team Leader is one of them, having been with the company for more than seven years. She first started as a Technical Account Manager, forming the first Voyager team in Cluj only to switch shortly after to a QA position. “The team grew and I grew with it,” fondly remembers Simona of those early days. As her responsibilities became more varied, her full job title has also grown to include: QA team leader, QA owner for International EU, Mentor for Presales team, and Training Coordinator.
“Making sure the job gets done accurately and in a timely manner is my main task; another one, as important, is making sure the team is doing well too,” said Simona.
How was the team (Global Solutions) seven years ago, when you joined them? What fond memories do you have of those times?
When the Global Solution team started in Cluj 7 years ago, we were only 8 team members, plus David LaGue, and I was the youngest one. Back at our office on Croitorilor Street, we used to have one floor just for ourselves. As for fond memories … I remember the times when we often shared ideas and suggestions on the cases we were working on and celebrated with fun and laughter any small success within the team.
How easy or difficult has it been reaching this point in your career?
During my seven years at Yardi, I had to deal with quite a number of tasks and situations. My challenges consisted of prioritizing multiple urgent tasks and switching between them, but also, dealing simultaneously with multiple managers — Cluj, Amsterdam, and Santa Barbara — constantly making sure they’re all on the same page. I didn’t really make a goal of becoming a QA Team Leader, I guess it came naturally once experience was accumulated. My mom taught me that any ladder can be climbed, any goal can be reached, as long as you constantly give your best. Her favorite saying is “Nu exista nu pot, exista nu vreau.” In other words, pretty much “nothing is impossible to a willing heart.” I grew up with this in mind.
What professional skills or personal traits have been the most helpful in making you successful in your job?
There are a few that come to my mind:
• Not being afraid to ask what might sound like a silly question. I’ve learned not to make assumptions and to ask for clarifications in order to fully understand a request.
• Being proactive and having suggestions when it comes to internal procedures or common approaches. Even if I’m not going to reinvent the wheel.
• Communication skills, both within the department and also with management in other Yardi offices.
• Modesty. I’m joking.
During your time at Yardi, have you attended any conferences/ workshops that have changed your perspective on what is the best way to lead a team?
I have quite a few examples here as I’ve learned a lot from others and from daily situations about leading a team. First of all, being onsite with clients and getting to know the different business models applied in other countries challenged the traditional perception I had over hierarchies within corporations. Second, we had a QA meeting in Santa Barbara which really helped me understand how other internal QA teams are led and organized. Then, there was a conference I attended, called “The Woman” which highlighted the importance of learning and continuous growth, professionally and personally.
Is there something that your current position taught you that you were able to apply to your personal life as well?
Negotiating a tight deadline with a client can be a very useful skill in the day-to-day life. For instance, when deciding the next holiday destination (and timing) with your friends (Laughing). On a more serious note, my current position encouraged me to teach others, especially the young ones, about leadership. Together with colleagues from Toastmasters, an international NGO which helps people improve their public speaking and leadership skills, I volunteered for and organized an eight-week program for teenagers, called Youth Leadership.
Who is the person (model) that has inspired you the most in your career?
It might sound like a cliché, but I really don’t have just one model. I appreciate many people around me and hope that in time, I’ll be more like them … When it comes to relatives, I wish I had my grandma’s courage and my parents’ optimism. I just adore my family.
Within Yardi, I admire Ronald Weevers, Vice President of Client and Professional Services in Europe, for his organizational skills and impressive memory. I appreciate how Joop Schaarman, the manager of special projects knows how to make use of its charm when dealing with a difficult client. I also appreciate Ami Kearns, the director of product development, for being powerful, yet kind and gracious. Our manager David LaGue manages to bring fun and laughter in the most unexpected situations and I appreciate the ways he finds for making us unwind in stressful times.
In the Cluj office, there are many women that I admire, who manage to balance perfectly their family life with the professional one, who are able to find time for their passions and hobbies, generous women who have time for volunteering in various activities. I particularly admire a colleague who had the courage and strength to become a donor for her father, risking her own health to save another life.
There are a number of people whom I admire “from a distance.” Sheryl Sandberg and her Lean-In community are inspiring for women worldwide.
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