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World Mag > WM Summer 2015 edition > Interview with Gabriel Zbârcea

Interview with Gabriel Zbârcea

Managing Partner, Țucă Zbârcea & Asociații / AISB Parent and Board of Trustees Member
Gabriel Zbârcea
Gabriel Zbârcea

I was impressed with the role played by the community in the school’s life, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of active volunteers in the PTO and in the Alumni Association, their voluntary involvement for the school’s growth and benefit.

WM: Please tell us a bit of information about how you came to study law and about your career.

GZ: Ever since high school I liked humanities and I understood that rhetoric and working with people suited me. So, naturally, I went to the Faculty of Law. When I graduated, I had to choose between being a judge in Bucharest, and being a lawyer. I chose to become a lawyer, and have since been in this vocation. I have been a lawyer since 1995, so I had the opportunity to be a member of the legal profession from the very first year of its modern age. The law of the legal profession, which completely reformed the communist system, became effective on January 1st, 1996. Then I grew and evolved, working mostly with foreign clients who came to invest in Romania. I have been a Managing Partner of Ţuca Zbârcea & Asociaţii for nine years. Previously I worked as a Deputy Senior Partner and Partner with another leading law firm for seven years. I have also had multiple roles in the public administration, as Counselor to the Prime-Minister of Romania, President of the Romanian Privatization Agency – the  Authority for State Assets Recovery (AVAS), and President of the Privatization Commission for Banca Comercială Română (BCR), now a member of Erste Group.

WM: What does a legal career entail?

GZ: First, you need to have a Law degree. Then you need to choose one of the legal areas: judge, prosecutor, in-house lawyer, or lawyer. I chose to be a lawyer, as it is the most free and liberal profession; it secures my independence, autonomy and multiple choices. There are many opportunities and challenges that go with this profession. Being a judge, for example, means security, a safe pay and irremovability because you cannot be transferred and/or removed from office without your consent. However, on the other side, the legal profession involves risks. It is a business: you do not know how many clients you will have and how much money you are left with at the end of the month.

WM: What are the biggest hurdles one has to pass to be able to work as a lawyer at an international corporate level?

GZ: The main hurdle is that of time. You sacrifice much  of the time for yourself and your loved ones in favor of the clients you work for. You earn money, reputation, and social status, but precious time in your life passes you by, you give up the chance for some defining moments and memories.

WM: Please describe your relation to AISB.

GZ: I am the father of 3 children who study at AISB, two girls, one who just graduated from 12th grade and the other in 2nd grade, and a boy in 4th grade. So, due to the permanent contact with my kids, I am very well connected to what goes on at their school, both its achievements and deficiencies. As the 3 children are in different age groups – primary and secondary school – I get various communications from the school, including the syllabus, the teachers, and the requirements, among others. For my children, I would be ready to give up everything I own. So, with this in mind, I can spare to dedicate some of my time to the school that educates them. I have been a member of the AISB Board of Trustees since last year. I knew what being involved in the Board would entail, since I was informed of my potential future responsibilities in the preliminary interviews of the Board. Following two thorough interviews, the existing Board members chose me to join them as their newest Board member. Within the Board of Trustees, I am also involved in the Advancement Committee. The Advancement Committee seeks to raise public awareness of AISB, to raise funds, to find interesting and significant projects, and to identify financing sources. However, I do more at AISB than attend school events, functions for my kids, or Board or Committee meetings. Țuca Zbârcea & Asociații and I have delivered pro bono legal assistance to AISB on multiple tax issues, employment law, permitting matters, and contractor agreements.

WM: As a parent of AISB children, what do you think are the main differences between an education in a Romanian school and at an International School?

GZ: The main difference is the perspective on the development of the student’s personality. Through every educational means, AISB encourages initiative, exploration of the students’ personality, creativity, spontaneity, and free thinking. The Romanian educational system is governed by very strict rules likely to inhibit outside-the-box thinking or differences; it uniforms the students, it is a closed system. Certainly, there are many other differences concerning the syllabus, the quality of the teachers, the equipment, and the perspectives that graduating from AISB brings with it, but my choice was first and foremost made based on the way in which the 2 schools approach the child’s personality. I think I still have many unclosed wounds caused by the communist education system.

WM: How do you believe AISB aids in shaping the future of its students?

GZ: AISB contributes to harmoniously shaping the children’s personality, it broadens their horizons, and it forges them and prepares them for life. It makes them smarter, but also better prepared for the obstacles and challenges they will be faced with as adults. The most important thing is that AISB students are encouraged to look for solutions and then to assume responsibility for their  solutions and decisions. It is critical to know what one is looking for, where to look for it and what decisions to take. It is vital to assume responsibility for these decisions. Students have the center stage; everything revolves around them. The other players, namely parents and teachers, are their mentors, but in the end it is the students who have to take the decision. The outcome, be it a success or a failure, is theirs. This helps them to adapt and become global citizens from a tender age.

WM: What are the school’s projects in the short and long term?

GZ: In the short term, AISB plans to consolidate its status as one of the best schools in Romania, with a special focus on the quality of its teachers, the improvement of its equipment, rigor, efficiency and transparency in spending money, continuous communication with the AISB community, and the compliance with appropriate suggestions and recommendations. In the long term, this will enable AISB to be the best, the school  of choice; indisputably, irrefutably the top school of Romania.

WM: As a newly appointed Board Member, how do you view the AISB education, where students, teachers, parents, alumni and others come together?

GZ: When I first came in touch with what AISB stands for, I was impressed with the role played by the community in the school’s life, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of active volunteers in the PTO and in the Alumni Association, and their voluntary involvement for the school’s growth and benefit. Whether it is the Terry Fox Run, the International Day, the AISB Gala, various expositions, events, or the day-to-day life of the school, all these volunteers who give a slice of their own time to the school deserve a round of applause. AISB is not merely a school, it is united in spirit, a big family. I must confess that the example set by all of you determined me to get involved, to apply for theposition of Board Member and then use my experiences, my skills, and my resources for the school.

WM: How can the School community benefit from an Alumni Association?

GZ: You, the alumni, know best how the school works: what are its advantages as well as its disadvantages, what needs to be kept, maintained, developed and what needs to be improved or changed; you are the ones who know exactly what skills and competencies you gained from AISB supported you in your careers, or on the flip side, you know what you would have liked to have acquired in school to get better results at university and beyond. You know what it was like to apply to various top universities around the world, what enabled you to be accepted or, on the contrary, what you lacked. Your experiences are unique and priceless from this point of view, and as such, the first feedback on how to add value to AISB can only be yours.

Read the entire WORLD Magazine Summer 2015 edtion here. 


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