Ruxandra MicșunescuFrom: Bucharest Born on: 30 April 1990 Occupation: Line Agency Owner
After she attended one of the best and oldest hotel management schools in the world, Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, specializing in marketing and communication, and later in marketing and creativity at L’ Ecole Superieure De Commerce De Paris, Ruxandra Micșunescu builds its own business, perpetuating the entrepreneurial gene inherited from parents.
She started 2 years ago, Line Agency, a full-service advertising agency, using the knowledge gained during the studies in Switzerland, France and England. She came back home for a postponed and well-deserved vacation, but after a few days spent in coffee shops, walking or revisiting places, she was bored. So, naturally, sought work, eventually ending up in McCann and Lowe advertising groups. She got involved, worked, spoke her point of view as she had been taught abroad, had an impact, impressed. And because all her experience counted, people from other agencies have begun to call her in order to open and coordinate new departments. And from here, from this signal, to the decision of creating her own business, because “in business you enter alone and you don’t make partnerships” it was a very small step. She made it fearful, but with all the energy and strength that she was capable of, as she continues to do so.
Ruxandra is her mother’s perfect copy. She saw how much work and perseverance achieving results needs, she learned from her to be “your own supporter” and especially an independent woman. The mother’s life attitudes have become also her by observing the parent’s behavior around, until she can no longer just stay, cannot work half a day and then walk, cannot ignore the professional thoughts. “My mother worked a lot and “I do what I saw”, I tell her when she drwas me attention and reproaches me that I will get sick of so much work. I know that all her life she has acted so just for us – the kids, to have everything. If my mothers enter into a negotiation, for example, she doesn’t give up until the last second, she is very confident, she knows what she wants and she doesn’t give up. “
Photo: Raed Krishan, Line Agency anniversary
I met Ruxandra Micşunescu for the first time in a Young Professionals event in the middle of a luxury and high-end brands debate. She was there thanks to her internships and jobs in the luxury brand area like Montblanc, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, as well as the service area for the Cheval Blanc Hotel. Although she has come into contact with all these titles during her story there are also less glamorous experiences, but very memorable and useful ones. “I was also a waitress (in the hotel bar and reception), where I saw the top clients, the way they behave, what they want and what they need, even though I was living in a small room in the hotel basement, and at night I had to walk through the frigorific rooms of the hotel in order to get to the bathroom. Being a good hotel manager requires all the hierarchical experiences, because you have to know what to expect from bed-makers, receptionists, bell-boys and all the other staff. I don’t think it was hard, but it was provocative. “
Ruxandra presented with emotion in that evening, breathing deeper at times, and managing to go over, using the sense of humor. She acted contrary to classical advice and shared us her emotions, verbalized them and then banished them by 2 gestures of her hands.
She knows how to be human.
As she knows how to behave with the people in her agency, young and energetic, but especially creative. She learned how a team works and how you have to plant a culture within it. She always asks how they want to evolve or develop professionally, but at the same time she wants from them good work.
Beyond the leadership books read, in the growth of organizational culture, the knowledge gained in hospitality as well as in the creative area helped her. She is a creative woman, she works with creative people, and “the more creative, the more sensitive a human is“.
She believes in effort, but also believes in relaxation, in weekend disconnection or city breaks from time to time. Perhaps, this comes out after situations when she went to work from 10 am to 1 pm, and she knows that this comportment leads to poor efficiency. If you force yourself, creativity goes, no matter how infinite it may seem, “you get to a saturation point, even if you do your best”, says Ruxi. “I always try not to rise the tone or to have inappropriate reactions, instead I follow the harmony. Although, there are difficult days, like the ones when I have to pay the taxes, and I warn them that I need their understanding. I have nothing with anyone, even if my face probably says the opposite. Sometimes I am poker face.”, she added, smiling.
Photo: Sergiu Vlaicu
MS: In 6 years you’ve moved 9 times in 13 different homes. Have you now found your place?
I think only now things begin to settle, because in the first two years since my return in Romania I felt that my energy isn’t here. I was always thinking of leaving. Now I am not as eager to return, nor to Switzerland nor Paris.
Besides the beautiful and close relationship I have with my family (we often talk on the phone, we see each other at least once a week and discuss), the people in the agency matters. Along with them I found a new sense in Bucharest, I found the professional vibe that fits well with my family side. I’ve always considered it isn’t just about the client or just about the agency, it’s about what makes things happen, about the team that I grew up and I enjoy the time spent with them, and sometimes just hearing them laughing in the outside yard, makes me happy.
In addition, I think that moving in my own house will help me to attach emotionally more to Bucharest.
But, yet, a longing is, but it is no longer to leave, but to travel. Somehow, to alternate between Romania and Switzerland or Romania and France. In fact, my expansion plans aim at developing smaller teams in the 2 places abroad. We have already taken steps in this direction, because clients of France, Switzerland and Canada are present in the agency’s portfolio. It only remains to evolve from year to year.
MS: You started alone from scratch. What emotions have you been through since the beginning of the agency so far?
I think I have gone through all possible feelings, from supreme excitement to pure panic, because it’s hard to have all the responsibilities, decisions and the shape of your employee’s future on your shoulders. My mother taught me that in business it’s best to be alone, but it’s also very difficult.
There are evenings when you get home and you say you cannot anymore. And then you’re dragging yourself and motivating yourself. After that, some thoughts come up and you wonder if it’s worth it or not to run all this roller coaster from the beginning of a start-up. Every time I come to the conclusion: it’s worth it.
For me, it’s very important to have people to remember how much I’ve evolved in 2 years of existence. I forget and I always want more and more.
How many employees do you now have in the team? How much did the number of clients increase? What is the current business figure? There must be someone to lunch these questions to me, either it is my mother or my team.
But yes, emotions are of all sorts, from joy to crying.
Photo: Sergiu Vlaicu
MS: Your experience, both personal and professional, has accumulated in countries more versed than Romania. How did you make the transition from international to local industry?
Initially, I thought you could eat with the same cutlery as abroad, but the local industry is different. You need to know what works here and how to meet the expectations of your customers – especially when you work with the international ones. Differences can be seen in any industry, from hospitality to luxury. In the hospitality I noticed very clearly and I was taught during the studies that, for example, it is rude to dispose the table before everyone finishes, but here it is immediately interpreted as a lower-quality service to leave someone with the empty plate in front. Or, as in the service area, schools prepare you to promote the wines, to up-sell, but it is impossible for us because we do not have a wine culture yet. At the communications level, I’m thinking of the luxury industry (which I spoke about at IAA Event), where the Romanian PR for luxury brands doesn’t work like outside. We had clients from the UK or France who are accustomed to the idea of providing information or interviews exclusively. We don’t have that concept in Romania, because, due to the current context, the sales departments have been advanced, so the interest is generally either financial or gossip related.
The discrepancy doesn’t involve only the press, but also the reader. Quality content, like an article about the history of a brand, is searched by a very small number of readers. The vast majority doesn’t want to find such information, to read about the values behind a brand. Instead, they always want to find out about luxury products worn by local celebrities.
The same thing happens in the online PR, where we have a strong atypical market when we speak of influencers or brand ambassadors, and the industry is run by talent management agencies and therefore fees and commissions. In the end, it must be treated as it is, and although it is different, at the end of the day the communication tools remains the same. You have to explain to your customers that “it is what it is” and that we need to adapt our expectations.
You adapt or you do like me when after a serious confrontation with what a company’s organization and internal culture means, I decided to start my own agency and apply everything I learned and seen in other countries.
MS: What are the challenges in the marketing, communication, in the industry were you work, now and in the near future?
From my point of view, the biggest challenge is people. I have seen in the last year that more and more talented and experienced people left the country and I don’t think these departures will stop as long as we don’t stabilize ourselves economically and politically. Although I have already lived in other countries and I know that “the grass is not always green on the other side”, or at least not as many imagine, I understand them. At the same time, I hope they come back – I know people who have returned, like me, after studies and who are determined to change something, as much as they can in our country.
I think the main issues we face (and will not disappear too soon) apply to any industry. Here I also refer to the problems related to the economic and political instability of Romania, but also to those related to us as a people. In my social media “bubble” I see many people who are revolting, who say something online and the opposite offline. They judge in online the corruption at the policy level, but continues to make “small dealings” offline (and a lot in the industry that I chose).
As in politics and communication, I think everything will evolve when people will put more value on what they can do in the long run and not on the fast financial benefits.
Photo: Sergiu Vlaicu
MS: You have experience in hotelier industry and hospitality. What’s common sense labeled in a hotel and what’s related to premium class?
Common sense is decency, basic and correct things, while premium services are differentiated by personalizing or transforming a simple gesture into an entire customer experience.
Otherwise, I believe that common sense rules and premium hotel services apply to many industries, because everything is about some main components discovered during the preparation of my bachelor degree – the scaling of a customer experience. (I would say that I did a good job since the coordinating professor “borrowed” then the idea and transformed it into a business. In the long run, I gained more because the study hours and the experience cannot be stole by anyone.)
If I simplifies them, I come to:
- Services offered to the client as a human interaction, whether we are talking about reception, parking or just opening a door and welcoming guests;
- Services at the consumables level, which mainly include restaurant & bar;
- The quality of the product, regardless the sector of activity, because everything from the food served in restaurant to bedding materials is taken into account.
The same principles apply when it comes to a marketing agency where you look at the services provided by the client’s manager and the product delivered by the strategy & creative team. In the same way, we can deliver a properly executed campaign, or we can do more than is asked and offer a memorable one, based on brand values and consumer needs.
MS: Is there luxury market in Romania?
We have luxury products and services on the market and we also have consumers who buy them, so yes, there is, but the important question is: “How is the luxury market from us?” Especially from the point of view of the consumer, because if we refer to a luxury consumer in Switzerland, for example, there are many differences.
For the vast majority of Romanians quantity trumps quality, and that’s why we prefer to buy more pairs of shoes and other small leather goods and accessories such as sunglasses, than invest in jewelry or watches. I don’t make these statements on the basis of my personal experience or because I have seen everyone rushing to buy the same Balenciaga sneakers, but because I have kept in my hands and have conducted studies that demonstrate the country’s trends. When I say these things, I don’t judge, but just take them as they are and try to explain them. If you think about it, we are among the first generations who have received something as an inheritance, and now we will be able to perceive luxury products as investments for future generations – as a legacy, and not just as evidence of social status and well-being.
So yes, the luxury market already exists and will grow. Personally, but also as an agency owner, I am very enthusiastic about the changes in perception and the subsequent needs of the customer or the Romanian market, at the level of communication and education of the consumer.
MS: How do you see luxury?
I think it means access to things and places that make you feel good. I associate it with the idea of comfort and with friends from Switzerland. Perhaps they had Fendi furniture in the house and went in exotic holidays, but everything was natural, they didn’t necessarily want to show something or say something. They didn’t need to show off, but they did the things because they were joyful. That’s how I see the luxury.
Photo: Sergiu Vlaicu
Ruxi drinks a lot of coffee. She knows it and also her colleagues, who tell her from time to time that “it’s enough for today”. She likes the taste of coffee and I have to admit that the smell of the one prepared during our discussion, the third of the day, smelled great.
She takes her cup of espresso, not before asking me if I want to, and says: “How I told you, my greatest fear is that these creative, working and skilled people in Romania will leave. They will find work in other countries, because no matter how beautiful it is in the office, no matter how the agency owner tries to provide a development environment for the employee, the outside reality cannot be ignored. I think a chance to keep them is by expanding the business internationally. You make agencies related to the main one in other parts of the world, in other markets, and so you provide them the environment they need, challenges and competition, still having them by your side.
You know, I never planned my life, and Line Agency came up because that’s how it happened. I believe in the power of the universe. If you tell him what you want, you think and work for your wishes, he will come.”, confesses Ruxandra.
Then she gives me the smallest and most unexpected examples. She wanted a pet very much, but because she had (still has, but less) the nomad – title , she didn’t have enough trust in her mother’s eyes. “Don’t take a cat. You will leave and you will let her in my arms to deal with it.”, her mother repeated. She postponed, even if every day her thought was about adopting a pet, until a month later when the mother called her: “I took the dogs to the walk and I found in the street, abandoned, a fur ball full of oil. You hardly wanted her, if she came out in my way.” She took her home, nursed her and baptized her Sătănel. She has another cat, found by her brother, Vlad, thrown into a mountain river. “Although he is a boy, I have named her Neagra (The Black one, feminine gender) and so his name remains.”
There is no doubt that Ruxandra Micșunescu lets the Universe play its role, she doesn’t disturb it, and doesn’t challenge its decisions, but adapts her actions after the life turns. Some more unpredictable than others. She does all she can, and even more; parents don’t rebuke you for nothing.