Never say no in Romania

Almost no other European country has developed as rapidly as Romania. I have the good fortune to visit this Eastern European country often, and I’m already looking forward to my trip there next year.

I worked there as a trainer for buyers in the automotive industry, and again as an interim manager for a large industrial company that was looking for a suitable production location. What has changed since then? As recently as 2009, I encountered major reservations when I brought up Romania as a possible production site: „Poland yes, Czech Republic and Slovenia yes, Hungary yes, but not Romania.“ The Romanian economy is on the upswing right now. First, the automotive manufacturers established their manufacturing facilities here. After the auto makers came the suppliers, with their factories. My forecast for the near future is that we’re going to see more responsibility being delegated to Romanian offices. These employees have university degrees, and they speak perfect English and German alongside their native language, so they’re going to want to take on the responsibility they are capable of. Many companies have already been outsourcing their back offices here for the last two years. I’m sure that purchasing will be next: the Brexit vote means that no small number of the companies currently operating in the United Kingdom will be choosing to relocate to Romania.

For all of these reasons, it is imperative to become familiar with the Romanian mentality. On my business trips, I got to know the country and its people and learned to appreciate them. One evening, I arrived in Timisoara tired and exhausted from the journey. I went briefly to the hotel restaurant for a meal, and soon went back to my room. The purchasing training started the next morning, and I was approached by one of my participants during the break: she was very relieved that I was not nearly as arrogant and dismissive as I had seemed to her in the hotel restaurant. We both regretted that we had not been able to get to know each other the evening before: she had not dared to approach me. Aloofness can be misconstrued as a hostile attitude; people need to know this if they want to do business in the country.

Romanians are generous and open-hearted. Do not refuse their invitations, and be generous when treating them to meals and offering them gifts. This is where the mentality of Western buyers, who are not allowed to accept a favor under any circumstances so as not to arouse suspicion, meets with complete incomprehension on the Romanian side. One more tip: celebrate with them whenever you get an opportunity. As one of my Romanian friends succinctly put it, „all hearts fly to you when you dance!“