INSPET TALKS | Aura Mustățea


Welcome to our conversations with and about the people who impact the energy infrastructure, the construction business and the Romanian private businesses. We want to put the spotlight on the reality of those who work every day, no matter whether they are entrepreneurs or employees, to come up with ideas and stories that are meaningful and inspirational both on personal and on organisational level.

In this series of conversations, our guest of today is Mrs. Aura Mustățea – Financial and Administrative Manager of INSPET, with more than 20 years of experience in the financial-banking and business administration field. She believes in people, she is confident and brings the specifically feminine empathy in a rather frugal world, considered mainly masculine, such as the world of energy infrastructure constructions.

Our conversation with Aura Mustățea is about the company and the people of INSPET, provides us with insights on the labour market and about how the company sees the changes but also how the company adapts to the dynamics of human resources. We discuss the projects completed in more than 30 years of service, and also about maintaining the balance between the personal and professional life as a Senior Manager and Company Board Executive Member, about hobbies and future projections.

You took over this position in 2020, following your father’s 24-year management of INSPET, a landmark for the Romanian Oil and Natural Gas Industry. In your opinion, what was the professional impact and that with regard to the teams you have taken over?

When I took over this position in our company, it was a real challenge. I was coming from the banking area, a corporate area to a successful entrepreneurial company. Yes, it was a real challenge. I was definitely expecting it to be challenging. But, as you mentioned earlier – I grew up and lived in the spirit of the INSPET family, with traditions, values, and vision. And this has helped me a lot to achieve a transition smoother than expected.

I brought a somewhat corporate atmosphere, easier and more organised communication, feminine empathy in a world of energy infrastructure constructions, mostly dominated by men. The teams I have taken over were indeed extremely well organised and extremely tight-knit, which facilitated a rather smooth transition.

At that particular point, did you seek to bring any changes to the company?
At that time, when I joined INSPET, I had no plans for major and wide changes. I was in a period of managerial growth, and the teams that I found here were very tight-knit. The operational workflow was very well organised. We were involved in high-complexity and nation-wide projects, specifically BRUA and Onești-Gherăești Natural Gas Compression Stations and many more. It did not require any change just for the sake of change. Things were functional, going in the right direction, and this has helped us complete the works in due and tight time, as is the case for high-complexity works. In my opinion, a change at that particular time simply did not bode well.

My contribution at that particular time, from my professional experience, was a corporate flavour, meaning that I facilitated more communication, I brought a more condensed structure for the projects, with strong emphasis on meeting the respective deadlines. I am an optimistic, I brought a much more rakish attitude instead of an under-pressure attitude.

What is your current news? What internal projects did you implement in the company in the past 2 years, in the financial-accounting area?
We have just finished implementing an ERP system both in the financial and in the accounting area – specifically the areas under my coordination, but not only here – they have also been implemented in the HR and salary branches. We consider that the implementation, automation of processes, digitalisation represents the vital component for a company of our size.

What are the first words that come to mind when you think of INSPET?
Similar to our motto – Tradition (we have 7 decades of experience and 31 years since we have started as an independent private company). Performance (being involved in large national-strategy projects of high complexity). Vision. Values.

What do you think of the current labour market? What are the dynamics of it in Ploiești?
Given that we are in a post-pandemic period, when we all got used to work from home / in a hybrid system, which was not applicable to us for very long. Given our line of business, we could not apply this trend, which has become a reality in the past few years, for very long. I must admit that the labour market is having a comeback.

With regard to technical jobs, it is indeed a real challenge to recruit people, first and foremost with specific technical background – they are very scarce. In the past years, particular technical trades have been disregarded and no educational investment has been made in the respective direction, hence the gaps we face today. Old-school employees, with the required technical training, are about to retire and the new generations lack the trace schools to support such training, thus generating a real gap. I can say that the labour market is a little atypical, but at the same time I can say that there are people looking for jobs in the communication area, the financial area, the administrative field, meaning the non-technical areas, and this is indeed a very wide range of choices. It is not only us who face this situation, on the local or national market, but it is international.

You mentioned technical education. We know that you support dual education and I already believe that this is not the first generation you support.

We are already at our 2nd generation. We support their education. We have taken students from the technical high school and support them with scholarships, providing them with both an environment to learn trades (welding, carpentry, fitting etc.), and subsequently with a job for those who want to work. Of course, we do the training. This style is of particular help for them in the future. This is what we consider right – we have been young once and had mentors to support us.

What is your opinion on the company’s responsibility when they hire someone?

Generally, performance requires communication, trust and an optimal growth environment. I believe that both the employer and the employee must have these when they meet. And for the employee to reach the desired performance, I believe that the three ingredients above lead to success and performance.

In the case of INSPET, we add the mentorship feature, which is very important for young employees, particularly those in the technical field. They have the right teacher, the proper learning material, which is vital. All that is required is for them to want to learn and to be open to it.

Fresh out of college, have all been young graduates, with technical and theoretical knowledge but no practical knowledge. You cannot graduate and immediately become a good engineer or a project manager for a high-complexity work, on national, large scale. One joins the respective projects, but it is important to have where to learn from and to be familiar with the practical side. Projects are different. This is not a classic industrial production line with a manufacturing procedure for a bolt, for example, and given the process automation – bolts are manufactured, and the production workflow is expected or foreseen, known.

Energy infrastructure projects are high-complexity. There’s no room for error. All the high-pressure installations, compression and drying stations are not identical. From the technical point of view, you must have knowledge when you graduate, but from the practical point of view, that is completely different and you learn it in the company, on the work site. You learn with an open approach, ready to assimilate all the information provided. In today’s world, fewer things like this happen, but this is the way our team is structured, that’s how we grew and reached the current performance.

Basically, a young employee must follow around an engineer and enjoy a longer mentorship.

I believe it is years we are talking here? We are talking performance that cannot be obtained in just a few months.

Absolutely, our projects cannot be delivered in a few months, even if these are projects with short completion deadlines, they always cover 12, 18, 24 months.

What is your short-term vision for INSPET?

First of all, we must maintain our leadership in the specialised energy infrastructure construction business and, at the same time, we must extend our area of expertise beyond Oil & Gas. As we inherit a 70-year-old tradition in the energy fluid infrastructure, Romanian Oil & Gas Industry represents our DNA, we remain attached to large strategic projects. Projects aimed at the development of the infrastructure for hydrocarbon extraction, processing, transmission, and storage. At the same time, we are interested in developing new gas field resources that may position or currently position Romania as an important offshore and onshore player, as well as for the development of the infrastructure for production, transport, and storage of hydrogen. At the same time, we invest in the electric energy production infrastructure from renewable sources and we explore a potential expansion to these construction-mounting works.

We are slightly leaning towards the personal side – let’s find out who is Mrs. Aura Mustățea after hours? What inspires you on a daily basis?

What inspires me? I believe I have always been inspired by the role model my father was, both professionally and personally. He has always inspired me to self-confide, to love my work, to learn and work – to become a good professional. I don’t know if I achieved that, if I peaked, but if you persevere and work hard, you reach your goals. This is what I tell my children all the time: to learn and to work. This style will help you all the time, throughout life.

Who am I after hours? With my work schedule, considering the little spare time I have left … I am a mother of two wonderful teenage children, who come with the regular teenage challenges. It is not an easy task, indeed, and it is not a trade one can learn. It is a trade one can learn as the children grow. I have taken the family model, my parents’ model, who have always been by my side and supported me in everything I have achieved so far. I am also a daughter; I am a perfect friend. I am that one friend you call any time of day and night and she will pick up. I am an absolutely normal person, no different from those in my team.

Do you still have time for hobbies?

We all have our hobbies. One hobby I may say I try to practice on a weekly basis, as I cannot do it on a daily basis, would be sports. I respect the time that I assign (the short time I have available) but this is quality me time for sports. Classic, not professional sports. Pilates, more on the feminine side. I try to spend all the holidays, which belong to my children, to spend them together and travel, which is something I have not given up, I still take pleasure in traveling.

Changing the topic, do you have a preferred book? Are you reading something that you may want to recommend to us, too?

I read multiple books, five of them, simultaneously. It was of a great help that ever since I have been a child I have been taught to read in a diagonal technique. This technique is not difficult to learn, but one must persevere, see particular keywords and things that are very helpful in understanding the idea and the message.
Going back to the five books that I read simultaneously – books from the professional field and on personal development, in particular on teenager topics. When you have a lot to read on professional topics, you take the time and read things such as how to talk to and how to understand a teenager. I must admit, I am currently dealing with two teenagers, with different challenges and needs, as they are boy and girl.

To what extent do you manage to balance professional and personal life? How do you maintain that balance, that line of balance between the two?

Work-life balance. An idealistic concept, in my opinion, but it can be done. It can be done, meaning that one must assign the time for your priorities at the respective moments. During the week I am rather active, with less time for my family. But the weekends, holidays with friends and family, with everyone we enjoy – this is where one must assign sufficient time. It is necessary. It is beneficial. Clearly, one must eliminate some things and assign the necessary time for the personal side. It is just like skiing. You choose one track. Then the next track. At the end of the day, when you calculate the results, you have tries everything. You have to make adjustments depending on your strength at the respective moment, the present moment. I mean there are things you must do whenever you feel like doing them, at the respective moment you must assign the resources. This is inner discipline.

This Podcast has been brought to you by INSPET,  Romanian company, a direct descendant of a seven-decade history of performance in the Oil & Gas Industry. If you liked this conversation and you believe that we can be inspirational for your friends, please forward and share it and show that we can do it in Romania, too, it is important that we really want it and are willing to put in the required work!

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Until our next meeting, be inspired in everything you do!