Liana Radu is the Head of Compliance at Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. Hong Kong Branch and Generali Life (Hong Kong) Limited. She has comprehensive compliance experiences and her career has moved up in Generali, while working in Italy, Hong Kong, Thailand as well as in other countries across Asia in a previous regional role.
Tell us about your career progression to date.
Many years ago, I decided to do a Masters in Insurance and Risk Management, which was sponsored by a pool of insurers, one of whom hired me, which is how I joined Generali. I did a brief internship in HR before I was offered an opportunity in Compliance. My profile looked suitable because I had studied law and risk management, and that was proved right as my career has moved up in Compliance ever since. I started in the head office in Italy and some years later I decided that I was open to an experience abroad and so, when the opening in Hong Kong came about, I accepted it and came here. I’ve travelled across Asia with my role and am now the Head of Compliance, based in Hong Kong.
What are some of your proudest moments or achievements in your career journey?
What has given me the most professional satisfaction is when I’ve been given opportunities to take on roles or projects that came with a lot of responsibility or aspects that were new to me. It always makes me feel recognised and trusted. Almost every time, I’ve taken an opportunity like that right away. Many people worry or wonder whether they will be able to do it, even the most confident people, but I’ve always taken those risks and it’s satisfying when you prove yourself right that you could do it.
Have you had any mentors in your career or people that have influenced you?
My influences have mainly been my managers and I’ve been blessed to have had exposure to some high-level management figures during my career. Most of the time I have worked in small teams with access to very senior managers, from whom I learned a lot. They also gave me a lot of autonomy and space to apply my own ideas, which was very important to me as I could experience, grow and learn, and then express my vision of how I wanted to manage things. At Generali, we always have an open-door policy, so I believe everyone feels encouraged to speak up or share their ideas with very senior people, which is a great opportunity when you are junior as you can gain a lot of insight. The opportunity to travel and work abroad has been an extraordinary source of learning. I have met people from across the world who have shared their own success stories and that has been a source of inspiration to improve different skill sets.
In terms of gender equality, how diverse would you say Generali is?
Generali has been investing for many years in D&I initiatives in all of its locations and has KPIs in place to ensure that we keep working on diversity and inclusion all the time. In the Hong Kong, companies where I work, we have an excellent balance of around 50:50 and we are proud of that because it’s also at executive level. Although we’re working on our diversity in other areas, in terms of gender we reached that balance naturally in Hong Kong. Even though 50:50 looks like it was planned, it wasn’t: the best candidates got the jobs!
Has your gender ever hindered your career progression anywhere?
No, fortunately I have never experienced that. I think my experience has been a little different because I was born in Romania and moved to Italy before I went to university, so there I was already diverse in terms of nationality. Wherever I have worked I have never been a local, so I’ve never even spoken my native language at work. I can’t say that I faced any challenges related to gender or diversity in any way. When I moved to Asia, there were cultural challenges to adapt to because it’s quite different to Europe, but never any problem from a gender angle. I am now part of a management team together with a number of female colleagues.
Having been exposed to different cultures and people, has this affected your management style?
Yes, absolutely. There are many differences in culture and working practices whenever you move abroad, but one thing I think is applicable wherever you go is when you lead a team, they need to trust you. Trust is never automatic, it needs to be built. I think you need to do your best for them to understand that you are there to help, to work together and that you are bringing your knowledge and skills to that team. When trust is built, you will be truly recognised as a leader. The way of leading a team, especially when you come from another region or country, is not to impose yourself, but to show how much value you will bring in the humblest way. Remember, there is a process of learning from each other too, so you need to listen, be open and understand what motivates your new team. It’s also important to understand their challenges too because they will be different from where you have come from.
Is there any advice you would give to women to help them succeed in their careers?
Never be afraid to share your point of view. Managers, male and female, do appreciate hearing a different opinion or having a constructive debate, so it’s important to bring your ideas to the table. Not many people like a yes-man or woman these days. Managers are supposed to understand their team’s work, but each individual has their own specialisation, so giving your own point of view based on your expertise is welcomed.
Secondly, never hesitate to take a challenge. When you’re given the opportunity to do something challenging, take it, don’t be afraid that you can’t do it. Most of the time, this is what helps you grow. And if anyone tells you that you can’t do it, just go for it and prove them wrong. Trust yourself.
Last but not least, I think that passion and commitment for your work will always pay off. These should be coupled with a strong set of values, such as being honest and respectful to others. These are not the only ingredients, but I think they do lead to success on a long-term basis.Posted about 4 years ago