After more than 20 years at Tenaris’s steel mills in Romania and Italy, Doru Ulmeanu has been living in Mexico for the last year and a half, working as the head of the Tamsa steel shop in Veracruz. During his stay, the Romanian native has managed to master the Spanish language simply by listening and communicating directly with employees in the plant. With a unique leadership style, Ulmeanu shares his knowledge and multicultural experience.
“At first, I found myself in a much larger mill, with a larger number of people and a very different organization, but I must say, I did well upon my arrival here in January 2020,” recalls Ulmeanu. “In addition to having to deal with all the changes of a new background, I, along with everyone else, had to deal with the pandemic. The resulting economic contraction certainly had an impact, but I believe we managed to perform quite well despite the circumstances.”
When asked about the main leadership strategies he applied to deal with such an uncertain context, he highlights communication as the paramount tool. “Every time we made a decision, we made it together. And if I had to make a decision, I made sure to explain the reasons behind the choice,” he says, and remarks how important it became to stay connected with the staff on a daily basis and to be prepared for the unexpected. “We always had a Plan B ready from the very beginning. If Plan A fails, you must have a wild card ready to play.”
New challenges in the making
Ulmeanu and his team have broken a lot of paradigms over the past year, achieving key improvements and several records in all areas. “Among other things, we managed to reduce CO2 emissions, which fell by 26% in one year compared to the 2018 benchmark.' This year, he assures, the team will consolidate these results and take a second step in reducing CO2.
Assimilating to a new culture
In Ulmeanu’s vew, Romanians and Mexicans are not so different: “Let's not forget that we are all ‘Latino’ by blood,” he laughs. He describes Mexico as a beautiful country with very welcoming people. “Personally, I love water sports, so from this point of view, I am in paradise. Every day I can take advantage of the natural wonders this country has to offer. People here are very warm; they were very kind and friendly.” From a professional standpoint, he says it is an honor for him to have been appointed to manage the steel shop at the largest mill within Tenaris. “I took it both as a personal challenge and as a vote of confidence towards my professional and personal capabilities. And I am lucky to have the greatest team that is not afraid of these new challenges.”