Otilia Cristea's Story
I have seen many changes in the 13 years I have been with Accor. In 2006, I joined Novotel Bucharest City Centre, and was part of the opening team. I started in accounting and after two years, I left the company for consulting with PwC. In 2013, I came back to the same department in a different role, an internal control position, where I could enhance my operational knowledge and further develop by shadowing our finance manager.
At this point in time, Accor had already expanded its presence in the region by adding new hotels to its portfolio under management or franchise agreements and little by little we became a small hub, taking care as well of some newly enrolled hotels in other Balkan countries (Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia). This gave me the chance to broaden my horizons – I was not just involved in one hotel’s daily life, but I got a good understanding of what it means to be in the head office of an international hotel chain.
At the time, our new owner in eastern Europe was the Polish Orbis Group and development accelerated at an even faster pace. Further on– I experienced the move from being asset owning to asset light; and in 2019, I moved to the development department with greater responsibilities in a very dynamic environment and looking at hotels from a completely different angle.
The position change gave me the opportunity to start travelling for business; but then Covid-19 came and travelling resumed only two years later. Therefore I can say it is this year my professional life started to be more normal for someone who works in the travel industry and; that’s one of the main aspects of the industry I like.
In this development role, I need to study different markets and projects, and visiting the different locations and getting a connection gives me a broader perspective and complements the desktop research. We are in 18 countries, with more than 150 hotels and 80 projects in the pipeline, most of them signed in the last 3-5 years. Last autumn, I was in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova, where we had some projects. I was there for two days as a “bleisure traveller” and it was then that I realised I am now travelling with the “professional eye” always wide open whilst walking the city I was trying to understand why we have a hotel in a particular micro location. I do that now everywhere; it is both interesting and fun to see the competition and discover live everything I have read about when I prepare briefing notes. I’ve been already to Berlin and Budapest this year and next year it could be anywhere else in the Balkans – Belgrade, Zagreb, Tirana.
I have always liked to learn and there are tremendous opportunities for that in this industry; you can get experience in a variety of roles in one of the biggest international hotel chains. I have met some inspiring people and I enjoy the fact that they are loyal to the group; many colleagues started in the team in 2006 or earlier, and even some of those who have left have come back. Some say Accor is the greatest place to see out their career.
I had started economics and business administration in the French section of Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest. I had a good command of French and an attraction for French culture, which is why I was delighted to join a French company. It is not really French anymore, we are part of the northern Europe hub and in recent years we switched to English as our first language.
I recommend that no one in the industry misses any opportunity. Do not be afraid to start from the bottom, you will have plenty of chances to develop in the company. It also depends how mobile you are – I’m not mobile any longer but with technology it is easier to assume a regional role. I am working in a team that is based partly in Bucharest and partly in Warsaw, and we are in close touch with colleagues from London, Paris, everywhere.
And to someone looking for their first job, you can grow in the industry, Accor and hospitality take care of employees; and you cannot get bored, you are always close to people.
- Otilia Cristea
- Senior Business Analyst Development