For me 2015 marks 15 years of doing business in Romania in a range of fields concurrent with projects in Austria, Hungary and UK. During that time I have seen remarkable changes from political development, set-back and renaissance to boom and bust, joining the EU and the establishment of an Irish Embassy in Bucharest.
Through all of this time there are some consistent themes in doing business in Romania, the most important being related to the remarkable skills and capabilities of the people in this country. Whilst it is a tragedy that many Romanians have found it necessary to leave to seek better job opportunities abroad many have remained, determined to contribute to a better Romania. It is my hope that just as Ireland has benefitted from returning emigrants over recent decades that Romania too will benefit in the same way. Living in Cluj it is already possible to see this inflow of returning Romanian talent, whose experience, financial resources and commitment are creating new opportunities in the country’s second city, and I am sure it is not just in Cluj.
Regrettably some things are changing only slowly, especially the pace of infrastructure development, ongoing challenges with the authorities and reform of education and healthcare. Despite this many Irish business people and others from across the globe, are achieving great results here, not least because there is so much possibility and opportunity.
From my experience there are three tips that I consider most critical in doing business in Romania:
- Legal Structure – the Romanian legal structure is based on Statute Law, whereas the Irish system is built on Common Law and mutual trust, and it is this difference that creates the most challenging aspect of doing business in this country, as it affects every aspect of business life from contracting to employment. Being aware of this is half the battle in achieving success!
- Culture – being a European country, with many gifted language speakers putting us to shame, one can be lulled into a false sense of security, forgetting the complexities on which the country is established, but have yet formed deep roots in the people, creating a multilayered and complex culture, quite different to ours. Irish business people are typically intuitive, and that intuition is as valid here as it is at home or in the UK or US, so any sense of unease felt in business dealings warrants listening up and applying experience to mitigate the risks and to ensure success!
- Engage with the society beyond business – Part of my interest and connection in Romania is built on addressing social need, in which I have been involved for 25 years. There are many issues that remain to be dealt with and many international companies are balancing their commercial activity with an active participation in the civil society. Engaging with this aspect of Romania is not only valuable for one’s business but also fulfilling and rewarding for oneself and one’s staff!
Doing business in Romania is challenging, refreshing, exciting, hard-work, fascinating, rewarding and inspiring. I, as many Irish, are set to stay for the long-term because of this. We see a bright future for Romania and our hope is that this will become easier as political and societal maturity comes about.