Maria Sirbu, Marketing Specialist, on Growth and Exploring New Perspectives

What started as an Event Planner job 5 years ago, soon turned into a Marketing Manager career for our colleague Maria, who is nowadays trusted to drive the team’s efforts towards creating powerful brand experiences and to support demand generation for the business. Read the story and discover how every new height opened for Maria the will and strength for the next achievement.

We sat down with her virtually in order to talk about her professional journey as well as to find out what key elements make her want to learn more and to share it all around.

Tell us more about your professional journey.

I have a master’s degree as a Communication & PR Specialist and this opened up to multiple career paths for me. I was first drawn to event planning because I had the chance to experience this firsthand by organizing national conferences for AIESEC, one of the biggest international student NGOs. The joy that a successful event brings to people always inspired me and since I am also a highly organized individual (I am the person that has a backup plan for a backup plan), event management was something that fit really well. However, I am an avid learner and so I started doing more than just organizing events. I enjoyed optimizing the website, taking care of the social media accounts, creating amazing presentations, generating campaigns for our customers, and sharing my knowledge with the new team members.

After more than three years I decided to specialize my expertise in Marketing and I started working for the largest coffee shop chain in Romania as a Marketing Manager, where I led a team of six people for two years. My role there was at first to create a team of professionals and a marketing strategy that would align the brand with the European coffee wave. Doing marketing for a coffee shop chain involved three main areas of focus: the online presence on all the channels, the offline presence which involves all the four primary P’s (product, price, place, and promotion) as well as managing the opening of new locations, and of course the eCommerce part. It was challenging, but rewarding at the same time. There were always multiple campaigns and events happening because the brand was growing at a fast-paced rhythm and we had to be ahead of the trends, not just follow them. Being a team leader was one of the most rewarding experiences for me because I had the opportunity to help them find their professional path and use their skills the best.

AscentCore showed up in my life at a point where I felt like I needed a bigger challenge. I enjoy solving customers’ challenges in a creative way, and in the hospitality industry, the results can be seen and measured quite fast. I accepted the opportunity to start again from scratch: to build a team and to create a results-driven marketing strategy based on the company’s objectives.

What is your favorite part of Marketing?

Marketing is such a broad subject, it can include a lot of different tasks that you didn’t even think about, especially when we’re talking about a company that it’s still setting its marketing grounds. Usually, people only see the social media part because that’s the visible side, but behind it, there are so many activities and people involved. It has to do with strategies, objectives, and campaigns that are tightly knit together in order to achieve the desired results. Apart from the lead generation and content strategy, I am working on the brand’s positioning for the audience, community, and the market. In order to establish a memorable, long-lasting brand, all the marketing tools must be used to their full potential. I enjoy every part of it because I am always learning something, whether it’s research, strategy, copywriting, or implementation. That is the only way one can grow, you have to try them all and they make use of your time by spending it on what you know best while delegating the rest to the people that know how to do it best as well.

What is a typical workday for you?

I like to start with some “me time” by having breakfast and the first coffee of the day. I am a coffee lover so there isn’t a day without coffee. There’s no other feeling like the one where you prepare yourself a nice brew coffee and you can actually strive for the best flavor you can get from a freshly roasted coffee.

After my morning routine, I get straight to work. I am a very organized person so I first check all my emails to see if there are any urgent tasks, and if not I keep up with the schedule a put together the day before. I like setting my tasks ahead because I get to dive into working instead of thinking about what I have to do for the day. Since I am still forming a team at AscentCore, I am doing various Marketing tasks, so what I do in a day depends on the campaign and the goals we’re focusing on at the moment. I might work with the UX/UI designer at the reskin of the website or some social media graphics, I might write an article, I might have an interview with the Technical Leads to see how we can help the recruiting efforts, I might check the latest lead reports, I might plan a teambuilding or maybe create a company presentation brochure. That is why I love this job; it allows me to tap into so many diverse tasks that challenge my creativity. I don’t have time to ever get bored.

Why did you choose to work at AscentCore?

I work in marketing, so I am very familiar with clichés, but finding a job that doesn’t feel like work was a high priority for me, and I am very lucky to be able to say that working for AscentCore is exactly that. Although this role can be busy, it’s the people we work with and the contribution we get to make that motivates us to push for things and give our best.

Over time I have found that my role is to help companies grow by forming competent teams which will make the brand known on the market, but also by creating processes and procedures for them to work without me. After my first discussion with the recruiter, now my colleague Viviana, I had the feeling that this challenge would take me again out of my comfort zone and that I will have the opportunity to grow professionally even more. I have the chance to build my own team and to define all the marketing strategies while working for myself since we have stock options. I mean, who wouldn’t have taken it, right? It’s an offer you can’t refuse.

I believe there is a great match between who I am as a person, what I love doing, the organizational culture, and the people I get the chance to meet and work with. I am extremely lucky to have a leadership team that is made up of experienced and inspirational people, who always make me feel supported and encouraged.

What is your favorite AscentCore value and why?

I resonate with all the AscentCore values at a personal level as well. The first one, integrity, is one of the values that I guide my actions by every single day. Doing the right thing in every situation is very hard sometimes, but ultimately it is the binder that holds together groups of people and organizations. This is how long-term relationships are being built, on a basis of trust, which leads me to the second AscentCore value. I have found here some great people that have the same core values and with whom I can truly feel we’re going to make AscentCore get where it should be on the market, as a company, and as an employer of choice. Last, but not least, the third value, results, is the one that checks the pulse on what we’re doing; if we’re reaching our goals.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your role?

The most important lesson I learned as a team leader was to make time to have regular informal chats with my team members and to never postpone a difficult conversation. There are things that can be easily solved just by talking and getting through the situation step by step than just avoiding it with the naive hope that it will somehow solve by itself.

As a marketer, I learned to listen to my gut. Every time I get a feeling that something is not quite right, I am right. That is why I like to double-check it and get more opinions on a matter just because what we think it’s great, might not be the same for the end-user.

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