George graduated from AISB in 2007 and pursued a nance degree in the US, later working in Boston and Bucharest in between MBA studies.
WM: Tell us a bit about yourself. (What uni you went to? what did you study and why? how has you're college experience shaped you as an individual? What do you do now?)
GP: I was born and raised in Romania, as a kid lived for several months in South Africa, and spent a year of high school in a British boarding school prior to joining AISB. I wanted to study business and I knew that the US has some of the best business schools, so prior to starting my senior year of high school I travelled for 3 weeks on the East Coast by myself visiting universities.
Of the places I visited, I really liked Boston (I went in the summer and had no idea how brutal the winters are) and decided to go there after graduation. It nally came down to Boston University or Northeastern, and I decided to go for Northeastern where I majored in nance. I chose nance because I have always been a numbers person and the career prospects with a nance degree seemed very attractive, although I had had little exposure to nance up to that point. Looking back, it was probably the college experience that had the most profound impact on me. From a social standpoint, it offered me the opportunity to make friends from the most diverse cultural backgrounds, while from a professional standpoint it allowed me to develop a passion for nance and acquire a set of skills that is relevant and applicable on the job. I would also recommend the US system due to its exibility with regards to those undecided on the major they want to pursue, and the exposure to other subjects outside your major (college lasts 4 years in the US, and 1 year is just for elective courses).
After graduation, I worked as a nancial analyst for John Hancock Financial in Boston and as a consultant for PwC in Bucharest prior to returning to the US to pursue an MBA at Georgetown University in Washington DC.
After graduation I returned to PwC to specialize in the pharma industry, and eventually joined Roche, the world’s largest biotech company, where I currently run the Supply Chain and Procurement Departments.
In my supply chain role I make sure all oncology patients get their treatment delivered in a timely manner, while in my procurement role I negotiate all the contracts on behalf of Roche Romania.
WM: Did the IB program prepare you enough for university?
GP: I did not take the IB as I joined AISB in my senior year. However, I did go through the same academic curriculum as my peers, which considerably facilitated my adaptation the college curriculum.
WM: What is some advice you would give to new graduates entering university?
GP: Make new friends, ideally from backgrounds di erent than your own. Take classes outside your major that you nd interesting even if you cannot see any tangible bene t at this point. Get involved in organizations (fraternities, sororities, associations, clubs etc.) and networks as much as you can. Get out of your comfort zone.
WM: What is some advice you would give to new 12th graders as they embark in their nal year of high school?
GP: Consider studying abroad. My advice is biased but I would strongly encourage studying in
the US. Focus your energy on the SATs and college applications, and have someone guide you through the process (it can be school counselor, or hiring a consultant from Princeton Review, Kaplan etc.). Aim high and target schools that are out of your reach, on top of the safer choices. Choose a city that’s cosmopolitan and has a night life. It’s always good to have options in your free time.
WM: What was your most joyful memory from AISB?
GP: Our senior trip in 2007. We went to Bulgaria and were hosted in two hotels. A really nice one, and one that was falling apart, which created a lot of tension between the two groups hosted in each of the hotels. I was hosted in the crappy one, but couldn’t care less and instead enjoyed the spectacle which created tensions among people for months to come.
WM: Did you play any sports or were you part of any after school activities or service communities? How has your involvement in these organizations help shaped you as an individual today?
GP: I was part of the soccer team. But I kind of sucked, so it would be a reach to say that it had a profound impact on my development. It probably determined me to push myself harder to reach the same level as my peers.
WM: Tell us about your current career path? What have you learned and was this what you always wanted to do?
GP: Ending up in the pharma industry is something I never pictured and it certainly was never on my agenda. However, since joining the pharma industry I have experience the highest degree of job satisfaction and have had the biggest professional impact both within the company and on the oncology patients as Roche has been leading the ght to cure cancer for the past two decades. Some of the things I learned during my time with Roche are:
Collaboration: You can be successful in a new role even if you do not possess all the know-how that might be expected of you, if you know how to get your peers onboard and e ectively harvest their knowledge.
Change management: Make changes and have an impact from the very beginning. You will not leave your mark on an organization by preserving the status quo.
Mindset: Oftentimes being humble and showing empathy
can take you a longer way than an aggressive and non-compromising attitude (although the latter can be bene cial in certain situations).
WM: What are your plans for the foreseeable future?
GP: I am looking to move to Basel, Switzerland, sometime in 2018 to get some headquarter experience in a regional nance role. This is a prerequisite for my longer term goal to become the Finance Director (CFO) either in Romania or in a different affiliate.
Read the entire WORLD Magazine Winter 2017 edition here.