Andreea Lungulescu

Principal Talent Acquisition Partner, Wayfair & Founder of TA Crunch

1. Do you remember a time when you were happiest as a child? Where were you, who were you with and what were you doing?

I was around 6 years old. I used to live with my parents in Münich. I remember they took me to OktoberFest. It was the first time and, so far, the only time I’ve been to OktoberFest, in 1992, so a very different vibe – though the beers were just as big. I remember that we went with a family friend and she bought me my 1st ever helium balloon. Then my mother took me to one of these rotating “tea-cups” that you have in amusement parks and they were spinning so fast that I couldn’t hold onto my balloon anymore so it just flew away. That literally felt like it destroyed my life forever. But …I did get myself a second balloon!!! Somebody bought for me, it was a total stranger who felt so sorry for me crying my eyes out. I do confess that, to this day, I still have a thing for helium balloons. Recently I celebrated my birthday and this is one thing I told one of my best friends: “I don’t know what you all get for me but please someone get me a helium balloon” and they did and it made me extremely happy 🙂.

2. What seemed like an inconsequential decision at the time, but in hindsight
turned out to fundamentally reshape your life?

I wanted to become an architect, so I studied for the last 2 years of my high school degree, every Saturday and Sunday for 8 hours/day…architecture. I then failed the Academy exam and I only had 1 option. That was to go with Civil Engineering and Management (basically I was following my parents steps).I did that for 2 years and I hated every second of it – it had nothing to do with my creative mind, so, after 2 years I took some personal coaching lessons (I was still quite young) and then I shifted completely.

I started studying International Business Relations and everybody thought I had lost it (including myself). I also started working part-time, studying part-time. I thought I would never get anything out of this. But ultimately, somehow it carried me to my Masters which was in International Marketing & Management, which I really loved. From there on I ended up with a very “relevant” role (insert sarcastic laughter) and I shifted into recruitment. So looking back, I think that if I would have stayed in that heavy engineering, very mathematical environment, I would have never gotten the chance to potentially work in the domain I work in today, which I thoroughly love and I am extremely passionate about.

Never let go of the creativity though, I just channeled it into painting now 🙂

3. When was the last time you changed your mind about something really important. What was it in? What led you to change your view?

I must admit that this will sound like absolute ignorance and…it was ignorance, so I will vulnerably accept it in writing 🙂.

I changed my mind about what I was thinking of when saying “feminism”. I used to say I’m not a feminist and I regret it now, because I think what I really tried to say was that I’m not an activist for feminism movements. When I was saying “I’m not a feminist” it stemmed from me having a very fuzzy, unclear picture of what feminism meant and I think in the last maybe 2 years or so, I looked much more into this topic and I read more, I watched documentaries, and I think overall this is a topic which now I feel much closer to. I understand more about the history, more about how far we’ve come and I feel ashamed for not having known this before. But I’m also grateful that I have gotten to a point where I comprehend the necessity and the importance of it so I will continue down this path.

4. What are the three books that you would unhesitatingly recommend to others? Why?

Why do you limit me at 3? 🙁 Ok, let me see how I get to narrow it down.

Top of the food-chain:

“The School of Life: An Emotional Education” by Alain de Botton.

I read this book cover to cover, backwards, upside down, highlighted ¾ of it, and recommended it to all my friends, acquaintances, family, strangers I met, anyone who has ears and can read. It is a thought-provoking book that delves into the realm of emotional intelligence and its importance in our lives. It’s about understanding emotions: will lead to improved emotional health and well-being. Alain de Botton is known for his ability to distill complex philosophical and psychological concepts into practical wisdom, aka, you can actually understand what he is talking about and you can appl s**t.

“Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter” by Liz Wiseman.

One of the things I had to put a lot of effort into was “emotional intelligence” – as part of my professional development. At the same time, I am a leader with no authority (that fun :))) ). So this book provides a clear distinction between two types of leadership styles – Multipliers and Diminishers. This understanding helped me understand my own (informal) leadership style and understand its impact on their team or organisation. It also talks about the importance of creating a work environment that encourages collaboration, learning, and innovation. And this, at times, made me grateful, other times, made me sour. It’s an easy to read book (you see a pattern here, right?) and positively written.

“Girls That Invest” by Simran Kaur.

This is a guidebook specifically written for women who are interested in learning about investing and building their financial independence. It covers a wide range of topics, including understanding stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles, setting financial goals, and developing a personal investment strategy. I like it for, you guessed it, accessibility, it’s a pleasure to read, it’s relatable and it is fun. All while being a true easy-intro into the topic. If you want to look into real investments, or not, you should read it anyway, it will only make you more financially literate.

5. What personality trait has got you in the most trouble? What kind of trouble does it get you in?

There are a few questions here which are more or less around the same topic, but I’ve decided on this one. It definitely must be my bluntness or directness or blunt-directness?! That is because it comes across as me being very emotionally unavailable (or rigid) and that I lack empathy or EI. Neither of those are true unfortunately – but this gets me in most trouble. Oftentimes this prohibits me from being as diplomatic as I should be in certain circumstances, or it makes it very hard for me to be very politically correct – especially in a corporate environment. Maybe because I’m not an native speaker (or maybe this is just an excuse) I think that sometimes I struggle with my directness. I want to get to the point, I want to get things done, I want to just go through things. So…I lose sight of the cultural differences and the communication differences, and this gets me very often in trouble.

6. What is a TED talk that changed your life?

It goes hand in hand with “the number one thing I would recommend to people”. I’m not even sure if it was a TED Talk, but definitely it is a live stream. It’s from Brene Brown. It may come as a cliche, or maybe not, as it’s about vulnerability and bravery and it is about being honest and true to ourselves. It comes quite hard for me to show vulnerability – I’m talking primarily in a professional environment, (to show emotions or to show how I truly feel) and therefore I come across as fierce or too strong. Deep down I may have my own struggles and it has taken me a really long time to understand that it is acceptable and that I should embrace vulnerability and openness.

This talk has influenced (positively) how I connect to people. It hasn’t been long though, 3-4 years maybe? I’ve started building on my friendships and my relationships based on this. Starting in my work environment by just being more open and vulnerable with people, showing them some of my weaknesses and asking for help. And it worked. And this is the one thing I would really recommend to people, which will again sound like a massive cliche in today’s environment, but it’s gratitude. I honestly end my days with being grateful for the smallest things (such as “I’m grateful that today, even though it was a ridiculously hard day I managed to cook a healthy meal for myself”). For me, being more grateful, feels like it made me more mellow, more open, more able to see that people are not in it to “get you” somehow. It’s a weird mix.

7. What is that one thing which is okay to ask you about but which other people are wary to do?

Oh this is gonna be a sensitive “big eyed” one, so I’ll just keep it super short. My scars.

8. The current industry conversation: what is an example of making a mountain out of a molehill?

I will share a potentially unpopular opinion and I hope it doesn’t come back later to bite me. It’s the whole conversation around how artificial intelligence is going to steal our jobs. I do not disagree with the fact that there will be jobs which will become obsolete but this happened in the past multiple times already and this is how we evolved as humans. Individuals who were left without jobs in the past, due to industrial or tech advancement, they retrained, re-skilled, they found other jobs and they evolved. I do believe that it will continue to be like this. Unfortunately we do have greater speed right now (when it comes to change and adaptation to new tech…and “new” in general) but I consider that AI is going to support us in re-training and up-skilling as well and looking at things differently.

Sometimes people get extremely tormented about this, I observe it with my own family, they do not study enough, they take the headlines from whatever newspaper or news or Media, “we will be replaced by Robots” and so on and so forth and I do think that it is a bit too much of uproar instead of us taking step back and thinking “how can I befriend this and how can I utilise this to my absolute advantage?”.

9. What is the best purchase you've made recently and why?

It’s not so much of a physical purchase, but I bought myself personal training sessions at the gym. I keep telling this to my trainer and to anyone who has ears to listen really, that it is the best money I ever spent and I’m not even joking. It has given me such a kick and such a boost! Working with a trainer really helped get the best out of me. It has been honestly (I can’t even put the price on it) mind blowing! I will never regret the money, or think “I should have put them in anything else”, because the effect on my mental health, on my body, my confidence, my stamina, motivation, determination – it’s incomprehensible for someone who hasn’t gone through this exercise.So it is really the best “purchase” I have ever made, only if it’s only been just nearly 6 months.

10. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why
haven’t you done it?


I am an absolute passionate fan of Audi. I’m an automotive fan in general but absolutely, my soft spot is Audi S3. It has been since I was 14 years old! That’s a long time! And I kept saying to myself that I will either test-drive one or buy one or rent one…or whatever. And then, there was always something that took precedence (insert sad face). I think it’s always a matter of cost and trying to think to myself “does it really make sense?”, “Is it financially viable?”. Probably not but I should at least do a test drive 🙂. Sometimes I kick myself about it, for not doing it. But I know that it’s something that one day, one way or another, I’ll sit my bum in an Audi S3 and have a proper no-speed limit Autobahn ride 😀.

11. If you're a giant mega monster, what city would you rampage first and why?

It will have to be Moscow at this moment in time. This needs a disclaimer. Because it sounds bad. All the good people would be extracted by alien forces and all the bad people (ahem) will be somehow hidden in the Kremlin, plotting…And then BAM! Surprise!

12. If you could witness one moment in history which one would it be and why?

There are so many, but I do have a particular history interest in all topics related to the 2nd WW. As dramatic as it may sound, I think I would have loved to observe somehow, like 50,000 ft above, the end of the 2nd World War. And with it, the end of the Holocaust. Or maybe, to be more specific, I would have loved to see the reunification of some families, the freedom feeling being expressed, the liberation in the months following its end.

13. Can you give an example of a time when you had to learn the lesson the hard way?

Yes and it has to do primarily with my career progression. I was (for a long period of time) of the opinion that in order to progress in your career, you have to do your job and you have to do it really really (really) well, excel and compete with everyone, be the 1st one in class and do everything alone, be in front and show everyone how well you can do something. Ideally on your own – because then they’re really your own merits (insert deep, angry “sigh”). It took me a (way too) long time to realise that, actually, collaboration, networking, seeking sponsorship, seeking mentorship, sharing vulnerably my weaknesses and asking for help in mitigating them – now these are actually the things that would help me! I think I might have been potentially in a different place in my career should have I understood what (or whom) to listen to, or where to seek advice earlier on.

14. What's a skillset that isn't on your resume but your former bosses would recognize as one of the reasons you are successful?

It is something that somebody told me a while ago and it is “grit” similar to (maybe) resilience?! I have quite thick skin and I don’t give up. Don’t get me wrong, it is not being hard-headed. In Romania we say that “you throw me out the door, and I come back through the window” . I keep trying, and coming up with different ways of…trying, so I really am persistent, regardless of the amount of NO’s you throw at me. I think this really helped me move through my career so far, and it’s not easy but it has developed into quite a beautiful skill.

15. What's the one best quality you wouldn't mind in a colleague and why?

I will choose one which I maybe I hold myself? (sad “haha”). So I would cut them some slack for it.

That would be “abrasiveness”.

If somebody would be abrasive, or too much “in my face”, or very abrupt, I think I would potentially be able to understand them. I also think that I’m at the point where I am able to provide relevant feedback on the matter. I was told that I provide really constructive and implementable feedback, so I guess that this may help smoothen the edges.

16. What hiring heuristic do you generally go with when interviewing?

I like to go down the path of “quality control”.

Think of manufacturing, think of the 5 WHYs. I sometimes take people by surprise for diving so deep into something (literally asking 5 X why) just to get to the bottom of things. Oftentimes I may even ask them if they understand why I’ve done that exercise. I’ve interviewed many people, for various roles, and if they’ve never come across the 5 WHYs or any kind of quality control, kaizen, etc. they would oftentimes not guess it – but it can be a real indication of someone’s problem solving mindset and also data drivenness.

17. When it comes to our work and industry: what scares you most?

What scares me most is that we are in 2023 and we’ve been speaking about how Talent should have a seat at the table for the last 12 -13 years and still, it seems that we cannot get a seat at the table.I am really saddened and disappointed to observe that larger organisations “talk the talk”, and barely “walk the walk”. Some don’t even allow TA industry leaders, who are willing to “bring a seat to sit at the table” to actually do it, they still have too little regard for the value and the impact that Talent team has for a company. It frightens me, because I don’t know where the change should come from. Should it be ignited from within or if it should come top-bottom?

18. Name one person you would like to read these answers. What was your relationship with them and what is the reason they should read answers?

I’m thinking of Anna Brandt. She was my manager when I first started my job at Zalando, and she’s one of the individuals I learned so much from. She told me something which will never get out of my head. We were talking about the role of a leader in a team and she said to me “it’s a leader’s role to build the stage for you to be on. So that you can perform your greatest skills” . I admire her and I am curious of her opinion from reading my answers, what her feedback is, what her thoughts are, because she’s someone whom I deeply respect.

19. If you could add one question to the next person to answer what would it be?

How would you recommend that we come together and make C-level execs from across companies understand the necessity & the importance of Talent Acquisition in an organisation?

20. Would you recommend to do the next 20 questions with and why?

It is someone who is not very much in the public eye but there are some really interesting questions here and, while I know the person quite well,I would be extremely curious of how what questions they’d pick and what their answers would be. That would be Iulia Crai, who is my lead, my friend and she’s been my mentor as well for the last 5 years now.

Thank you to Andreea Lungulescu for taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune. Make sure to follow Andreea on LinkedIn

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