While Brexit brews in the Western Europe, a smaller country on the opposite side of the continent is experiencing some of the more positive effects of political union.
Since joining the European Union in 2007, Romania has experienced rapid economic growth and a consistent influx of foreign investment. In 2017, Romania experienced the highest economic growth in the EU at a rate of nearly 7%.
This has benefitted the Romanian job market hugely, with an unemployment rate of 3.8%—lower than the UK and almost half of the European average.
This surprising and relatively high degree of prosperity is an attractive prospect for entrepreneurs like Catalin Putineanu, who was drawn back to his native country to set up his own freight business and build it into the multimillion-euro company it is today.
Yet for Catalin, entrepreneurship wasn’t always a natural path, with his Executive MBA at WU Executive Academy campus in Bucharest demonstrating to him the benefits and rewards of being his own boss.
Having studied his bachelor’s at Keller Graduate School of Management at DeVry University in Illinois, Catalin was well positioned for an international career in business.
His eyes, however, were set on a return to Romania, an opportunity to support development in his home country as well as tapping into the exciting economy growth after its accession to the EU.
The renown of WU Executive Academy as one of Europe’s top business schools attracted him, with the prospect of studying an Executive MBA in capital Bucharest being the perfect storm of an opportunity.
Even more enticing was the Ziarul Financier scholarship, a generous endowment for tuition which Catalin was offered towards the cost of his EMBA.
“It facilitated studies for me and my peers—€30,000 ($33,600) is a big amount for a young Romanian career starter,” Catalin emphasizes.
The Bucharest Executive MBA at WU Executive Academy offered him opportunities to travel and understand industry across different continents, including trips to the US and Austria as part of the curriculum.
The international business world also comes to Bucharest, with guest lecturers from top schools including Aston Business School, IE Business School, and Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
“The learning and experience really went far beyond the classroom,” Catalin remembers, “It really allowed us to understand how the world is ticking.”
Catalin’s scholarship was much more than a financial incentive—it was a drive towards proving his worth and achieving his peak as a result of the program.
Most importantly, it moved his sights away from progressing into a senior management role at his employer, and towards setting up his own company, and ultimately being his own boss.
“My EMBA was pivotal in developing my business acumen, and [ultimately] securing my career success,” Catalin underlines.
The Entrepreneurial Capstone Project teaches students the important skills of setting up your own business—how to enter new markets, how to pitch new ideas, and how to create a successful business plan.
Catalin was one such student whose entrepreneurial plan came to fruition, setting up his freighting business after he earned his MBA in 2008. Mentors at WU helped him to pitch for a €100,000 ($111,8000) investment to kickstart the company.
By the end of the first year, Catalin had doubled his workforce and had a turnover of over $2 million. Ten years later, the company now employs 80 people and has a turnover of over $25 million.
As Romania quickly grows into one of Central and Eastern Europe’s biggest economic powers, its reputation as a fertile ground for investment is benefitting both nationals and expats.
Its growing economic potential is encouraging investment and business growth from all over Europe, bringing in over $5 billion in foreign direct investment in 2017.
For those tempted eastwards for their MBA, Catalin says the Bucharest Executive MBA students at WU Executive Academy is a strong option.
“It’s a chance to broaden your perspective, to prepare well for your career, and to develop a business toolkit one can apply and draw upon in many settings," he says.