Andrei Cruceru, CEO Metaminds, talks about the company’s commitment to invest in communities and support people who want to push their limits and achieve performance in the field they are passionate about.
The interview was initially published in November 2020, in the bilingual yearbook Community Index Magazine no. 2, printed edition. It can be ordered here: https://communityindex.ro/community-index-magazine-2020/
Metaminds is one of the Romanian companies that differentiated itself on a national level through the team’s top expertise, effective deep learning and information technology solutions used, continuous involvement in supporting education and emphasis on human capital development. Recently, it was named by the Financial Times in the top 1000 fastest growing companies in Europe, placing Romania on the second place at European level in the top of companies that are progressively developing in the field of cyber security.
1.Most of Metaminds’ social responsibility investments are directed towards education. Why do you think this is the area where you can have a major impact?
Education is the only path to success and development – this is one of Metaminds’ fundamental principles. Therefore, we believe that it is necessary to support the creation and implementation of programs that develop essential skills for future professionals, such as analytical thinking or techniques for identifying and solving problems.
We have a special responsibility in terms of human capital development, thus, in the future, we want to take this commitment further, by developing partnerships with leading universities in the country. We want Metaminds to become an important player in the field of Research, Development and Innovation (RDI), by increasing the number of local specialists and by developing projects whose results can be used both nationally, but can also be translated into other countries.
At the same time, our intention is to support young people to complete their studies. Precisely because it is increasingly known that many students of technical universities drop out of school, being enticed by the salary level offered after completing the internships, we want them to know that it is necessary to complete their studies in order to maintain and increase this advantage.
2.How do you choose the communities where you focus your investments and how do you ensure that the results are sustainable, having both short-term and long-term effects?
I believe that CSR actions must be based on the desire to encourage change at a social level. A successful CSR action is built around the brand values and philosophy. Supporting a cause or field that aligns perfectly with your expertise is the most effective way to build trust and generate commitment.
Because excellence is one of the core values of Metaminds, we have chosen to support people who want to push their limits and achieve performance in the field they are passionate about. This is the reason why, when we decided to invest in the CSR area, we chose to focus, for the beginning, on our own social responsibility platform: #beameta.
This initiative expresses our brand’s philosophy and values through real-life stories and characters that exceed their limits and overcome their own fears, in order to rediscover new territories of inner strength.
The people we choose to support come from different backgrounds, have different concerns and interests, but they share a constant desire for self-improvement and are passionate about what they do. In other words, they are models who inspire other people to constantly improve and never give up on their dreams.
3.You recently had a project through which you provided advanced digital infrastructure to schools in Romania. What results did you have so far and how have the lives of children changed more precisely?
The recent context revealed another face of reality and made us understand the shortcomings of the society we live in. Due to the crisis this pandemic caused, we were able to see clearly the differences between urban and rural. Precisely through the project you are referring to, Metaminds tried to provide support in finding a solution and diminish the differences between these two worlds, in terms of children’s access to modern education, with the help of technology.
The project “Integrated National Platform – Wireless Campus” was developed in partnership with Blackberry and, together, we completed, in just four months, the infrastructure and secure authentication services in the national system. At the end of the project that will be fully completed in 2021, more than 1.5 million students and teachers will have access to interconnected open data networks, including the Internet, through an integrated national campus-type platform.
4.An important aspect in training young people in the field of IT is represented by equal opportunities. How do you appreciate the chances that Romania gives to girls and women who are or could be interested in digital education?
We need to specify that there is a generation determined difference in terms of educational preferences.
Digitalization facilitates quick access to information and educational resources, both in Romania and abroad.
Nowadays, women have a wider range of options when it comes to their education and professional training. If in the past, colleges for humanities and social science were one of the most common choices among women, both in terms of custom and in terms of the variety of options, things are starting to change. Webinars, courses and educational materials available online encourage a self-taught approach, making it easier for women to choose a specialization according to their vocation and talents.
One thing we noticed during the recruitment process is that women applying for technical positions are interested in the area of Artificial Intelligence.
At Metaminds, we want to increase the percentage of female employees on technical profiles and we are looking for future teammates in this segment.
5.A healthy company is made up of responsible teams and appropriate leadership. How did you manage to build and maintain an organizational culture that increased, over time, the degree of employee retention?
At Metaminds, we place particular emphasis on increasing internal leadership capabilities, direct interaction with managers and an informal work environment.
We have an open-door policy that encourages everyone to express their ideas and opinions freely, without fear of repercussions.
Our team has 36 members, most of them top specialists in areas such as cyber security, connectivity and integration of multiple systems, machine learning, complex systems with large volumes of big data, so that each person in the team has a key role in projects and is supported to outline its leadership profile in his / her area of expertise.
6.What are the most important elements that make Metaminds an attractive employer brand?
Metaminds is a 100% Romanian company, founded in 2015, and has a team of professionals who together gather no less than 100 years of experience in integrating cyber security solutions and complex architectures in the IT field. Over the years, due to the way the company has evolved, we managed to get involved in projects of increased importance, both in terms of value and as well as complexity.
If I were to name some of the most important elements that differentiate us in the market and ensure us the attractive employer status, I would mention the salary level, which is still a decisive factor when choosing a job, the concern for our colleagues’ constant professional development, in all stages – recruitment, personalized growth and lifelong learning, but also the complexity of the projects in which we are involved.
In terms of remuneration, we are perhaps above the profile market’s level. Our most important asset is the workforce and we invest in it with priority, without a doubt, whether we are talking about training programs or combined salary packages, customized for each employee.
Last but not least, the projects in which we are involved represent, through their complexity and uniqueness, an excellent tool for learning and innovation, but are also attractive and challenging for our employees.
7.What type of development plans do you have for the internal community and how do you encourage employees to grow, both professionally and personally?
One of the secrets behind our success lies in the interdisciplinary approach of each project. This allows us to constantly see the big picture and make sure we provide our customers with all the tools they need to properly manage any type of challenge.
Precisely because we have discovered the benefits of this approach, we try to apply the same principle internally – we encourage a culture of collaboration, we share knowledge and we regularly organize interdepartmental trainings. Given the complexity and competitiveness of the field in which we operate, it is essential that every specialist in the team is familar with the latest innovations.
This is why we invest in specialised trainings for all colleagues, especially for those in the technical team. Although we are an IT & Software company, we value the so-called soft-skills a lot. Within the company, we have planned a series of workshops aimed at developing these abilities, so that we have a more efficient communication and, obviously, better productivity.
8.Can you offer some ideas of concrete measures that Romanian universities could adopt, in order to involve more private companies in the development of the curriculum and courses focused on practical methods, not just theoretical ones?
In Romania, even in the case of technical universities, the emphasis is placed on theory rather than practice. One of the reasons why universities should enter partnerships with private companies is to create an environment in which students can experience “the real-world challenges”. Creating a context in which young people analyse a real or potentially real situation within a project, for example, and are required to find their own solutions. Standard internship programs are also extremely useful, but do not give the student enough freedom to decide.
It would also be useful to introduce some actions that would familiarize them with the key performance indicators (KPIs) in the business environment, so that they understand their importance and role when assessing the success of a company or an activity in which it is involved.