First meet the team article in 2020 features one of our principal consultants, Alexandra Lovin. She has been working within our company for almost 10 years. With an active role in creating and updating the Coupa and Ariba Implementation Methodology (XoomCloud), as well as managing internal teams and supporting commercial negotiations, Alex covers a complex set of skills, always striving for excellence.
I was recommended for an Ariba analyst position because of my language skills (I had learnt German on my own in the previous couple of years) and my exposure to international companies. This was in the Spring of 2010. Fast forward to 2020 – a lot of hard work, travelling, being on a constant learning path, whether it’s technical skills and regular exposure to new technology, or changing projects and the people you work with every 3-6 months, I have grown beyond what I could have imagined all those years ago when I started.
And I don’t just mean professionally, but also personally – I learnt the value of keeping your word as an unwritten contract almost, of giving your best even when it means waking up at 4 am and correcting slides on your way to the airplane straight into a meeting where you present in front of 20+ people you’ve never met, or driving a C-level team to make the best design decision, even when they are sometimes stressed and spirits can get quite heated.
I also learnt that no one will remember who was right or delivered a task on time necessarily, but they will remember how you treated them and made them feel. Often a smile and the right attitude can make a difference – some good macarons or cookies also don’t hurt at the beginning of a workshop (that is part of my trademark).
I appreciate the fact that most people are authentic and genuinely care about their projects and the legacy we leave behind. We are not just some grey suited consultants. We are a community and often clients will feel the difference exactly because they see another experience compared to a big company. I like the fact that I have a lot of freedom to grow, flexibility to take on new responsibilities and run with the initiatives I propose. I also love that I made friends in the process and whenever I am stressed or feeling under the weather, there will always be someone to check-up on you. Also, it’s probably one of the rare places where a manager will tell you to slow down when they feel you are on the verge of burnout. I am grateful for all of this and more.
There are projects from my early years as a junior consultant where I was waking up at 3:30 every Monday morning, flew to Hamburg, straight into the office with often aggressive people pushing you to the limit and then back on Thursday night, arriving home after 1 am. I did this for almost two and a half years – it’s my least fond memory, but without this experience I wouldn’t be where I am today.
So, I’d say the tough moments are probably even more important as stepping stones in one’s trajectory, hence I never want to forget those less than rosy beginnings. Consulting is often not as glamorous as people picture it to be.
Of course I’ve also been fortunate to meet lovely people who became my friends on the first Coupa implementation in Italy – they baked cookies and showed me around Rome; or a manager at an important insurance company who was maybe the first person in business who believed in me and always treated me like an equal partner, although looking back I was sooo green back then. Or people from my first Romanian Coupa implementation that went on and recommended me to the project I am most proud of to date. Here we managed to do a Global Design for 20+ countries in 4 weeks – and the client is still happy 4 months after go live.
With the level of travelling and adaptability required to do this type of work well, it requires also a degree of discipline to carve out down time to relax and get inspired again, so you can lead teams and give your best every single day, without getting frustrated about continuous sacrifices.
In order to recharge my batteries, I make sure I spend quality time with my friends and family. I also like to explore the cultural scene in London, which is the main reason I moved to this great city; therefore, I often try out a new restaurant, check out a new art exhibit and dance at a fun concert. I recommend the Tate and Royal Academy for incredible experiences by the way – a month ago I went through a narrow tunnel into a constricted cave or through 8km of coiled aluminium tubes for example. I also like to paint myself (trying to find a suitable back-up plan to consulting 🙂 ) – abstract impressionism is my current style, but I tend to have eclectic taste, so who knows how that might change. I’m a bit of a geek because I am also passionate about history, but I’d like to think I’m not too uncool with Vogue on my reading list too, aside The Economist or Silk Roads.
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