He always had this thing for computers. But, after studying them for a while, in his crazy young years he decided to work in the HoReCa industry. He was manager for several cafés, clubs and pub, and he even owned a café place in Iași.
One day, he met a new friend, during one of the salsa nights that he used to organize in his club. This new friend was a programmer and a really good one. When he was introduced to programming, he just knew that his time in HoReCa was finished and that he has a new path that he must follow. The 2 of them started working together and the rest is history.
The new friend from the salsa night is Silviu Durduc, Fullstack Developer and one of the founders of CGM Romania. And this is the story of Alexandru Cobjuc, Branch Manager at CGM Iași, Romania and Vice President on Administration.
Alex, how did it all start at CGM Iași?
Well, I must say that I get a little nostalgic when I think about it. It was 2016. I was already working for a while with Silviu Durduc and his partner, Frank Mainzer, on different programming projects. At some point, Frank received an offer from a client in Germany to open a CGM hub in Iași. It was a German company called CompuGroup Medical, with almost 30 years of experience, who wanted to open a hub for software product development in Iași. We immediately said yes, and we just started to grow the new project. On July 7, 2016, it was official: CGM Iași was opened.
Our first working space was in a meeting room from a local hotel. We found some amazing people and we started to work together. After that, we just kept on growing really fast, from just a few people to 30, to 50, to 100 and so on and we changed several office buildings. Today, we are more than 200 people within CGM and we are in this new big building since 2019.
There were some intense years since the beginning of CGM Iași. What do you love more about CGM?
Oh, I love the fact that CGM was always a dynamic place, where we could do the things as we wanted, and we grew in our own rhythm. I love the people, because the team is extremely diverse, with unique personalities that have the maturity to know how to work together. They are wise, professionals, open-minded and everything is chill around.
I also love the involvement of the people, because it is what I appreciate more at the persons around me. I love to work with people that I trust that they do their best, in their own rhythm.
You were used to work with people back when you were working in HoReCa. Did that time help you in managing CGM now?
It surely helped me a lot. Because I had strong information and knowledge about the legislation in Romania, about the management process, about the administration area. But I must admit that things are quite different when it comes to people. You can not compare the people who are drinking and having fun with the people who are working, even if the people in our office are extremely fun and creative.
Looking back at all those years, do you have regrets? Would you change anything if you could?
I had no regrets when I left the HoReCa industry. But I had regrets when I left the programming for the management job. Not that it didn`t offer me satisfaction. It really did. But there is something about programming that just makes you fall in love with it. I would always go back to programming. But things are not the same anymore. The industry has evolved a lot and I no longer have the patience that I used to have when I was 20 or 25 years old.
You asked if I would change anything from all I did. I would say that I would do things better organized, I would have a different attitude towards the employees, I would concentrate more on our organizational culture, and I would definitely invest much earlier in Communication and PR.
This year was the anniversary of the first 5 years of CGM in Iași. What do you remember best from these 5 years?
I get nostalgic again just thinking about all these amazing 5 years. I remember the beginning, when we were like a start-up. We all knew each other, and we were like a small fun united family. I remember all the travelling and meetings with such amazing people within CGM Germany and other countries. I remember all the parties, the team buildings, the fun. I remember that I even sang to karaoke one night, at one of our amazing parties. And I don`t sing.
It was always a huge amount of work, but I never felt a second that I was working. This is the feeling that you have when you simply love what you do.
How did these years change you, as a person?
I became more communicative, I learned to listen, to be more patient, to come up with quick and right solutions, to give feedback, to be more emphatic and more organized. I know that there were many situations when my calm was put to the test, but in the end, everything came up really good, due to the amazing people and their attitude.
At some point, you decided to start supporting the local events and get involved a lot in the local community. Now, CGM is involved in many projects of the local community. Why did you do it and why are these events so important?
Yes, it is true that we get involved each year and every time we can in social and civic projects. During our first year, we participated only in some job fairs and some IT events. After that, we got involved in all the events that resonated with us: Rocanotherworld (because I liked the people who participate in the festival), Hangariada (because I have a passion for airplanes, and I wanted to be a pilot since I was a little boy; plus, that I know the people from the organizational team and I trust them); Jazz Festival (because I just love jazz music), and many other cool projects from Civic Heroes, Save the Children, Bethany, World of Vision, Fundația Comunitară Iași, Code4Romania and many many others.
Recently, the firm launched the Mobile Work concept. Can you tell us more about it and how do you see it?
When the pandemic started, the people asked to work from home, to avoid any possible disease. We, of course, accepted, and let the people work from wherever they felt comfortable. After some time, they noticed that they could work well from home too, so they decided to do so. Some people were extremely productive working from home, some people were comfortable working from the office, and some people wanted to do a mix, combining working from home with working from the office. So, we came up with Mobile Work, a concept that allows the CGMers to work from wherever they want, even after the pandemic will pass.
Of course, this thing comes with up and downs, and we must find solutions and adapt to the situation. When we passed the milestone of 200 people within CGM, in late 2019, we moved to a big 4 floors building to have enough space and to be all together. A building with a huge kitchen, a relaxing room, a beautiful terrace and many meeting rooms. In 2020, the pandemic came. Now, only 10% of the people are coming every day to the office in a huge building, but we respect that, and we adapt. It just motivates us to be more creative and to find the right solutions in order to keep on growing together.
2022 is almost knocking at our doors. What are your plans and expectations for the next year?
We had 5 amazing years together. The thing is that in our first years together we were concentrated on working and having fun together, and in the last two years we struggled with the pandemic situation. Now it is time to focus also on communicating the things that we are doing here, at CGM, because there are some pretty amazing things: from the software products that we develop for the international medical market to the internal events that we are organizing for the CGMers. So, 2022 is about growing the team and communicating more, as we started doing these last months. I really think that we are on the right track.