Leadership Talk with our Chief of Staff
blogApril 2, 2024

Leadership Talk with our Chief of Staff

Alina interviewing Marina, Chief of Staff

Article presentation
We learned from more than 10 years of experience in leadership, people, and organizational development from our colleague Marina, Chief of Staff at OceanoBe.

Although I met Marina recently, she struck me from the start as a very down-to-earth person, organized and focused. She joined our team at the beginning of 2024 and with it, she brought a new perspective. And let me tell you it has been a very interesting experience working with her so far, having the opportunity to dive into many years of experience, with relevant learnings that we’d like to share further. 

It took some time for me to get ready for this interview because I wanted to take full advantage of the experience and the thoughts Marina had to share. In reading the interview you will find out more about her as a person, her values, what she strongly believes in, and also the most important lessons she has gathered from her professional experience so far. You will also find out in this interview what her Chief of Staff role represents here at OceanoBe and what she envisions for the future of our company. 

I invite you all to get to know Marina a little better and to learn more about leadership, building strong relationships and teams, and also how to set up a mindset for success. 


Getting to know you

  • Who is Marina? 

A mix of several things. I’m a mother and a professional, and I’m someone who believes in the power of human connection and that we grow and develop together with others. I am a perfectionist, I believe in doing things well, taking a project or even a simple task, and trying to analyze it in all its complexity. Over the years I have achieved success both at home and at work because I have good people besides me, with whom I can work very well on both fronts. That is a statement of how much I believe in teamwork and in the fact that an individual's success or a company's success is a combination of many factors, which are often invisible. 

  • Marina,  you have recently joined OceanoBe as Chief of Staff, could you tell us more about what skills are needed for this type of position?

A Chief of Staff is a position in the core business management team that requires vision, setting up a clear strategic direction, and overseeing the operational aspects of the company.  It is a role with high visibility as a strategic partner, that requires a strong and close collaboration with the CEO, while also collaborating and overseeing other areas such as marketing, people team, support in delivery, setting and keeping excellence standards, and so on. This role is also about the implementation of a strategy following the culture of OceanoBe and all that it entails.

  • What’s something you are passionate about right now?

My main things are reading, time with family and pets, running, and a bit of gardening. Spending time with my little one and her activities is something I love investing my spare time in the most.

  • What are the last books you read?

The latest was “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, a book about a dystopian society. I think the main thing I got from this book is that if there is no open and clear communication, it’s very easy to reach a toxic level of mistrust and control. What I liked about the book is the fact that it underlines the impact of communication, at all levels. I also want to mention 2 other books that I enjoyed recently, which I’m still reflecting on:  “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer and “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention” also by Erin Meyer & Reed Hastings.


  • You started your career in people development, did you know right from the start that you wanted to pursue this career path?

Well from a very young age, I was fascinated by TV commercials. As I watched them I envisioned myself creating the message and how I’d approach the communication for a specific product. I chose Communication as a field and I went to do that in college, graduating with a diploma in communications and PR. At that same time, I joined an international organization called AIESEC, in the talent management team and I discovered more about people development. After college, I decided to take a management role within AIESEC and moved to Azerbaijan for a year, to help establish the strategic positioning of the organization there and also the opening of a new location. That was the point in my road when my interest in the fascinating area of people started to take shape. 

  • On that same note could you share an example of a time when you had to adapt your leadership style based on the experience and expertise of the team you were working with?

That is a good question, a couple of situations come to mind. My first leadership position within the department where I worked required me to switch my leadership style. Although I worked side by side with my colleagues and we all knew each other very well, it required some adjustments when I took over the role of the team lead and manager.

Another instance was an opportunity that was given to me to lead a project in which I had to form my team. I decided on a very mixed team, the best from each respective field, but the downside was that they had no history, there was a lot of dynamic and this required a very different leadership style and approach. It helped that I was very organized and we eventually managed to bring everything together and deliver a successful project in the end.

Lastly, one of my experiences is working in a leadership position that has no formal influence. What I mean by that is that I worked with senior leaders from different teams to help them build and grow their teams. This is an informal leadership style done through coaching, that has a different approach, but a very visible and lasting impact, I would say.


  • Talking about innovation, I know that this is a buzzword many use in the industry and I wanted to get your perspective on that.

I believe that innovation is not always something new, it can be something old adapted to new times. You can meet the demand with old methods just by adapting them to the new environment. So in the end I think innovation is also about adaptability, sometimes doing things differently with the same capabilities.

  • How do you foster a culture of innovation within your team or organization, and what strategies have you found most effective in encouraging creative thinking?

Well, I always communicate and brainstorm with my team about “How can we do things better”. Many things, even small ones can add up to make creative thinking flourish in your organization. For example having an offline and online space where you can gather and brainstorm ideas, using the right encouragement language and the open attitude of leaders, as well as retro sessions or workshops where ideas flow.

For example here, at OceanoBe, we use our own internally developed applications, we have an annual startup challenge where people can submit their ideas and we offer support in their business development. Also, the values that our company has speak volumes about how we approach creativity. Our core values are innovation, growth, openness, and flexibility. You can find more about them on OceanoBe our company page. I think that these four values are the very core of how our company is encouraging creative thinking and how we approach it.

I should also mention the fact that we support our local partners, who are innovators in their respective fields. We also have an internal recurring event called “Innovation at Heart” where people from different fields come together and share with us how they approach innovation and creative thinking. This helps us expand our knowledge and encourages us to go beyond our respective fields.


  • What does excellence mean to you in your role as Chief of Staff, and how do you ensure it's consistently pursued throughout the organization?

By definition, the Chief of Staff designs and implements the organizational and communication framework for colleagues and leadership team members to implement the vision and achieve the company’s annual goals. Excellence in this role means setting a direction and guiding the organization toward achieving common goals. This also involves equipping the teams with all the necessary tools and resources to reach those goals and be ready for the challenges that we might face.

In the Romanian market, this is not a very often encountered position, and I think OceanoBe has proven to be a driver of excellence just by bringing this sort of role on board, having that mentality of growth and the vision to create a structure that brings success to the organization and its people.

  • A very interesting topic, in this line of work, is how you approach performance evaluation and feedback to maintain a culture of excellence while also fostering individual growth. Based on your experience is there any advice you would like to share with the community regarding this?

Teams are very important, nothing is a one-man show. For a team to be successful and productive it must have the space and resources to do so. The job of any leader is to set the direction together with the team and ensure that they have all the support they need to get there. I strongly believe in feedback both positive and constructive and I also believe that appreciation is a powerful (and budget-free!) tool and it’s not used as much as it could be, generally speaking.

I believe in an open organizational culture that shares feedback, one where you can feel confident you can say your opinion. In that regard, I found this openness at OceanoBe, and it’s one of the reasons I joined the team in the first place. 

As for performance, we sat down and defined what this means for us, as an organization. We communicate this openly with our colleagues, to set a common language. In our case, it’s a combination of individual performance, client experience, and contribution to our growth as individuals and as a team, as well as bringing our values to life. Every year we roll a process called Annual Individual Retro where we each take time to reflect on the year and project future aspirations, as well as align on progress and feedback based on those performance pillars I touched on above.


  • What are the top 3 lessons that you have learned during your career and that you would like to share?
  1. Success is not a single person’s contribution (or responsibility I may add): there is always a team out there that ensures all the visible and invisible tasks are being done and helps you be successful. I learned this in the first years of my career and it still stands as a solid work principle for me. I stand here thanks to all the many people and teams that have contributed to my growth and I feel the responsibility to contribute and grow others as well.
  2. We are all people with similar needs: roles do not differentiate our human needs in a team environment, how we feel when we are given feedback, how we celebrate when we have a success, the feelings we get under pressure or the worry we feel when we notice a project’s not following its path. This is why I am a strong believer in teamwork and in investing time to get to know and build a team, as well as ensuring a platform for open communication, feedback, and growing together.
    I learned this throughout my career while working with people across the globe in various roles and seniorities and I discovered this common trait: a relationship based on open communication will always lead to more success than one that is rigid and assumes people should just do their job (in which case they will just do the job and nothing more, no passion or extra touch).
  3. I learned that there’s no way you can know everything your team is doing. For example, you can’t possibly understand the strategies or tools in Marketing Automation if you’re not in the field yourself,  but you can trust your Marketing Manager they will build and deliver their specialist strategy. The same in the development teams: you will not be able to know your developers, testers, and BAs’ tools and technologies but you can trust them they will deliver excellently as agreed because they are specialists in their areas. I believe a leader’s job is to bring the best people on board and then create that space so they can do their job passionately. I don’t always get this right but this is a lesson I care deeply about.
  • The last question for you, Marina, is what do you envision for the future of OceanoBe?

I touched early on the fact that I believe in our organizational culture, and to that I would like to add that I have found here a dedication to technical excellence, towards reaching and understanding the needs of the client and rising to the challenge to meet the expectations. Our strongest point is that we are an agile team and a living example of technical focus and excellence. We are pleased to identify this in the feedback we constantly receive from our clients too.

What I envision for us is growth within the same framework, maintaining the technical focus and the entrepreneurial vision, as well as our freedom to express ourselves, while also continuing to be flexible and open to new opportunities. The team has built a lot in the last years and I’m appreciative of the progress, as well as humbled to be joining to continue the adventure.

I’m focused on growing a high-performing team here at OceanoBe, to deliver the vision together. We’re planning to grow both in terms of new clients and industries, onboard new colleagues who share the same values and we’re setting up a structure to sustain that healthy growth.

And speaking of envisioning, we’ve just had our Strategic workshop where we designed the trajectory for the year for each business area, from Delivery, Engineering to Sales & Marketing, People, and many others which I’ll not mention now but I will invite you to stay tuned as there’s a lot we’re planning in the near future.

I’m pleased to be partnering with:  Robert, Diana, Vali, Sergiu, Olga, Alina, Ioana, and Anca, just to name a few of my dear colleagues whom I’ve embarked on this journey with. 

That wraps up our interview with Marina, we hope that she has inspired you you with her experience and words of wisdom. If you feel that this message resonates and want to join our community then feel free to browse our open positions on our website - Join our team OceanoBe. 

Time to be Unstoppable!