Could you give us a brief background into your career before starting CURATEPRO?
From the age of 14 I wanted to be a banker, although at that age I had a very vague understanding of the industry. At 18 I left Moldova and moved to London to study a BSc in Banking and International Finance. Upon my graduation I accepted an offer from Goldman Sachs in Leverage Finance; I had an amazing time at Goldman Sachs working on multi-billion dollar deals and traveling around the world. However, I felt a void since our involvement with clients always ended after the transaction was completed and therefore we never got to see our contribution to the industry itself.
I took a break from the investment banking world with an MBA program at London Business School (LBS). At LBS they encourage you to question your aspirations and self reflect on your career; I guess this is where I realised that I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur.
Tell us a bit about CuratePro and what inspired you to start the business.
The way professionals perceive their career and companies see gaps in their resources is changing dramatically. For companies it is more about “plug and play” resources which allows professionals that left large firms to build an independent (plural) career.
CuratePro sits at the heart of business. It is a marketplace where fast growing companies source independent experts to accelerate their growth. Our mission is to enable fast growing companies to directly engage top expertise for project-based work at a fraction of the price. Currently we work with some of the most exciting brands, helping them solve some of their key strategic problems without having to use large consulting firms.
On the other side of the market, we help independent professionals build a successful independent career outside the walls of large corporates (i.e. McKinsey, Bain, Shell, P&G, Citi, etc).
Do you have a mentor or role model that helped you during the process of starting your own company?
I have been fortunate to have several exceptional mentors and supporters in my journey. One of them is Chris Havemann who successfully build Research Now from just an idea; I approached Chris when he was the CEO of RatedPeople and the relationship has naturally evolved in mentorship.
My female role model is my mom – she successfully built several businesses in some of the most challenging circumstances like the collapse of the Soviet Union and the continuous economic and political uncertainty that still exists in Moldova today. Having watched her climb to the top, reaching heights no other woman has empowers me. Funnily enough, my mom doesn’t want me to be an entrepreneur. She believes this is the most challenging career path one could take.
Mariana wears The Eaton Dress
What advice would you give someone who is thinking of becoming an entrepreneur?
1. Plan ahead: before you leave your corporate career make sure you have all the right contacts and relationships that will help you accelerate your business.
2. Get the right team from get go: the people you work with will make or break your business. Test drive your working styles by working on some projects before going into business together. The best partnerships I have come across are the ones where the team has worked together before.
3. Home support: if you have children, have a very good nanny. If you have a partner, he/she needs to be on board 120% – the road ahead is bumpy and he/she needs to be there through the journey. Finally, make sure you have enough savings. It is a myth that one can build a business with $1.
4. Have fun: it is important that you love and enjoy what you are doing. Building a business is the most challenging thing you will ever do, your passion and determination will help you enormously.
Do you think the way you dress has an impact in your career?
Absolutely! Who doesn’t like to work with colleagues, clients and customers that are well put together? We represent our own brand and what we wear speaks volumes.
How would you define your 9 to 5 style?
I spend more effort and money on work clothes than on any other element of my closet. The biggest challenge is how to make it suitable for the 9-to-5 and beyond, i.e. from office to drinks. I am look for garments that are multifunctional – professional and practical yet sharp, chic and standing out for the right reasons. I am definitely a dress girl, à la Claire Underwood from House of Cards, or white shirt and pencil leather skirt.
I am a big fan of The Fold brand and always get a compliment when I wear one of the dresses – I even continued to wear The Fold when I was pregnant.
Mariana wears The Eaton Dress
You had two children whilst you were starting CuratePro. How do you go about achieving a work/life balance?
It is important to understand that balance means different things to different people. Finding the perfect balance is hard and “something’s gotta give”. Therefore, getting your priorities right is important – I am still working on that.
And finally, what is your favourite piece from The Fold Autumn/Winter 2015 collection?
The Eaton dress, as you can see from the pictures. I absolutely love this dress thanks to the clean lines and elegant fabric.
Pictures from David Nyanzi
Thank you to our partner salon Easton Regal for the beautiful blow dry!