“Be Bolder and Less Afraid of Failing”

Daniela is a proud Romanian who has lived in four countries and on two continents so far, with her current adoptive country being the UK. Beyond her work, Daniela loves her travels, first because they help her stay grounded to reality rather than the bubble that we live in on a daily basis. And second, because they always confirm her strong belief in the power of people as a catalyst for change in very diverse societies and in the world generally. Daniela Badalan's mentor is Annie Krukowska.

Q: Tell us a few things about your country, and also your life's story! 

A: I was born in a small village in Romania, the youngest of three girls. We lived in the countryside until I was 9, when my family moved to a nearby town. There I spent the rest of my childhood, falling in love with literature, languages and trying my own hand at writing. When I turned 18 I moved to Bucharest to study Russian and English Languages & Literatures.

In 2007 I left Romania for the first time, through a CEEPUS scholarship that saw me spending a semester in Graz, Austria. There I took a marketing course in addition to my languages classes, and that’s how I discovered how much I enjoy marketing. These few months outside Romania led me to the decision of moving to London when I graduated, to pursue my new-found passion for marketing through a masters degree in marketing communications.

Once I finished my masters I worked anywhere that allowed me to get as much experience as I could in digital marketing. And in 2010 I started my journey with the Ogilvy group, a well known global marketing and advertising agency. Seven years later, I am still part of the same group and couldn’t be more grateful for the amazing people I’ve met and the truly unique experiences - from clients, work, awards won, the honour of receiving the WPP High Potential Award, to the opportunity of being seconded in China for one year.

So when it comes to talking about my country now, I am lucky. Because at the end of the day, while I will always be first and foremost Romanian, I do feel like I am a citizen of the world.

Q: What is your view of the world as it is today? And how do you define the concept of a better world?

A: The world is amazingly complex and undecipherable even for some of the greatest minds, so my view would consequently be fairly limited to some of the glimpses I’ve managed to catch of it. I am in awe at how fast technology can evolve and the impact it has on our lives before we even realise it. I am in awe of how bold and brave the ‘start-up generation' is and how they’re willing to push their limits and challenge the status quo of previous generations to protect the principles they believe in. It brings me joy to see how we cross borders via the Internet to help others when needed, especially in times like these when the concept of safety has become so fragile. However, not everything is evolving and changing at the same pace. And that results in increased social tensions across the globe, that divide us and ultimately hold us back from building the safe and stable world that we all strive for. 

But we must not forget that building a better world needs to begin with our common realisation that the world can indeed be made a better place. And any such journey consists of many little steps in the same direction.

Q: What are some of the key challenges in your society?

A: To me, our society is like a child that has accidentally become an adult overnight and it woke up to find itself looking like an adult, having the intelligence and the abilities of an adult - BUT missing the confidence and the emotional intelligence one achieves through experience.

Consequently, while the key challenges of our society vary - from security risks, political challenges, the increased divide between blue collar and white collar etc - they all come from our inability to confidently head towards building a new global governance system that can reshape our society. And help us all take those little steps, in the same direction, so that we can build a better world.

Q: As a woman what are a few of the hurdles that you had to overcome up until today?

A: I’ve been lucky to work and live in an environment that is generally supportive to women. I’ve had managers that have supported me throughout my career and I do have some great examples of female leadership in my organisation, which give me the strength I need to fight through any hurdles. However, I’ve been fighting through what is referred to as ‘the impostor syndrome’ over the years. 

The faster I managed to grow in my career, the more conscious I was of that ‘fear of being found out’ creeping in. And it undoubtedly became more prominent when I was in an all-male meeting.

Q: Why is the role of a mentor important for you?

A: In life we have friends and family to give us advice and listen to our personal problems, and then we have managers/ work colleagues to help us get better at what we do. But we don’t have anyone whose role is to help us navigate our thoughts and questions about our future without forcing their opinion on us. And this is the role of a mentor. They need to be that person who guides us to ask ourselves the right questions and help us dig deeper into our thoughts to understand what we want. And once you find the right person, a mentor’s role is invaluable.

Q: Do you have a lesson that life has taught you and you would like to share?

A: Life has taught me many things, but there is one that has remained close to my heart over the years – the Golden Rule as the Bible calls it. When I was in high school I had to share a quote that I believed in and that I wanted to use to guide my life, and the one that I used was ‘Treat others how you want to be treated.” Or as Confucius said, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” I still very much believe it.

Q: Name a project, a foundation or a person in your country that you think is doing great work in helping improve other people's lives!

A: I will name two – one from Romania and one global. The one in Romania is called Resist – it’s a project built by the grassroots during the latest social and political unrest in 2017. It aims to facilitate dialogue between the Romanian society and the Government. And the second one is the Global Challenges Foundation – which I feel strongly is an initiative that could truly make a difference through its search of a new model of global decision-making.

Q: Share with us a phrase, a poem or a story that you love or you find interesting!

A: “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” Confucius

Q: Tell us one thing that you have learned from your mentor.  

A: I've learned to be bolder and less afraid of failing.