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Could you tell me a bit about your background?

Having grown up in a small community in post-Soviet Moldova where my parents, a doctor and an engineer were collectively earning less than $500 per month at the time, it took a lot of hard work on both their part and mine to get me to where I am today. The highlights of my journey started with the FLEX competition from the US Department of State, which sponsored me to a year-long student exchange in Georgia. After returning home and graduating high school, I applied to universities all over Europe and the US. Staying in Moldova didn’t really align with my ambitions. 

I am forever grateful for the offer Hult International Business School extended to me – an unprecedented 85% scholarship that made studying in London a reality.  My mom had to move to Italy and seek work there to support me. That was a hard pill to swallow, but it gave me the motivation to work hard and break through barriers so I can afford a better future for my family and myself. Fast forward four years later, I secured a job at Bizzby, a tech startup revolutionising the home services sector. I still work there today, having gone around the business 360-degrees. I’ve learned it inside out, journeying through multiple roles – from Operations Assistant to Manager, Head of Operations.

CRISTINA MUNTEANU girls in tech

How did you get into tech? What made you choose it?

My first touch with tech was in middle school, learning Pascal in Computer Science, it was not a love at first sight kind of story. It wasn’t until university that I started taking an interest in the sector. As a hard-working student in a private school bubble, I hustled to make ends meet. At the time, tech start-ups were in huge growth phases. Companies like Uber, Deliveroo, Handy and Bizzby for that matter, were splashing out on referral codes and had limited security in place to track multiple accounts. Yes, I was one of those people – what they called a “promo junkie”. I was upscaling my lifestyle without the cost, using referral marketing to book services like getting a cleaner to our student flat. As a result, I used these apps quite actively and got very curious about the inner workings. I started researching more about their models, setting bets with friends when some would go out of business (because of people like us, probably) and getting curious about how, one day, I might want to run my own tech startup. A few months before graduation I decided to take my experience of using the product and messaged the CEO at Bizzby, Rohan Sinclair Luvaglio with several ideas and suggestions for improvements. I had an interview two days later and a job secured within a week. Then, I deep dived into every area of operations there was in the company and fell in love with the inner workings of a tech startup.

What personal or professional milestones would you highlight?

My most recent and probably proudest moment in my career so far is the promotion I achieved to at Bizzby. Having started over four years ago straight after university, it’s been a rewarding progression which got me here today. It’s been an incredible, very challenging, yet rewarding journey. 

What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?

Do more maths (haha)! I’d probably advise my 10-year-old self not to put so much pressure on herself. A lot of it is perceived as coming from parents or peers we compared ourselves to, however, it is mostly self-inflicted and not constructive. I’d tell her to acknowledge accomplishments more. Especially in times when the world outside may seem unsupportive, it’s essential to cheer herself and fuel progress.

Do you regret not having done something today for not finding the time?

A few hours back as I was caught up in the middle of so many life admin tasks I may have thought I could have spent more time developing my LinkedIn presence, or squeezed in a bit of reading. However, once I finally allowed myself the time to do a meditation and recenter at the end of this busy Saturday evening, I have come to realise that a lot has been accomplished today and that my body and mind need the well-deserved rest. 

What books and podcasts do you recommend reading and listening to and why?

The Knowledge Project podcast is invaluable to me. I find that it taps into so many areas, exploring topics from business excellence and life lessons, to mental models and spiritual revelations. I especially recommend the episode featuring Neil Pasricha on happiness. Other podcasts would be On Being and Becoming Wise with Krista Tippet, Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn, The Daily from the New York Times, and Naval. 

I am currently reading Marie Forleo’s Everything is Figureautable at a time when I’m toying with ideas of starting up a business, so I’m finding it very cheerful and encouraging. The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity is a staple I keep revisiting anytime I need to re-prioritise. 

How did you get into Girls in Tech and what made you do that? 

I got into Girls in Tech through the London Tech Week 2019 event “Girls in Tech Presents: The Intersection of Tech & Benevolence”. Seeing the work that the volunteers did to pull it together, and the value I derived from it motivated me to apply as a volunteer. I wanted to contribute towards making more events of that calibre happen. We need to allow women to find resonance in their voices and amplify the emphasis on the challenges they face in society, the workplace and in their heads. If we can bring more of these opportunities in front of girls and women around the world, I’d feel much more fulfilled in my work and how my energy is spent. 

CRISTINA MUNTEANU girls in tech

After so many years of being in the STEM field, what do you think about diversity and inclusion in the sector?

It’s been just over four years and I am biased in that I’ve only worked in one tech company for the span of my career. However, I have taken notice of the startup scene in London and have seen a growing diversity over time, in gender, race and perspectives. This is, of course, encouraging to see. I have also experienced hiring managers who were heavily biased in their decisions based on some of the same factors mentioned above. There’s certainly a lot of work to be done yet, but I believe we stand on the shoulders of other women before us who made it possible for us to live and work in the way that we do. Something two generations back wasn’t a reality for my grandmother, let alone her grandmother. 

What advice would you give to a person who wants to get into tech?  

A barrier I set myself initially, despite the desire to get into the tech sector, was that you had to be technical to get a role in a tech company. And while that is welcomed, it’s not critical to crafting a great career in tech. In my case, being non-technical motivated me to pick up technical skills and learn to speak the language as I progressed in my career. The backbone of these tech companies are the people and the operations helping them run, so I feel my role is just as critical to the company as development roles are.