Iulia - The Compassionate People Leader

Meet Iulia Pop in this one-of-a-kind Tech Story.

Meet Iulia Pop in this one-of-a-kind Tech Story. The story of a people person, a compassionate colleague and leader, a shaper, and a builder of teams, communities, and futures. Buckle up as she takes on a ride of her dreams, aspirations, thoughts, processes, and many more!

How are you feeling on this special day, Iulia?

I just went out to buy a hair dryer. These past few days I’ve been outside of Cluj, in my hometown, looking over everything there while my parents are on vacation. I realized, given that they both have short hair, there is no hair dryer in the house.  

I feel good, really! Being here, in Zalau, a small town, I just went to grab a coffee with our colleague, Norbi, who lives here. It was so great to share a moment of connection over coffee and go on with the day with a smile on our faces!  

Being home, did you enjoy a traditional breakfast?

I’m fasting at the moment, so I skipped breakfast. But I did enjoy a delicious, more traditional, cheese pie!

I will send you a podcast that is super nice. I listened to it for three times and a half.  

What happened with that half?

The fourth time I realized I need to move on.  
Podcast Iulia has sent me: Everyone should start fasting.

You’ve been part of RebelDot for a long time. Who was Iulia that entered RebelDot and who is Iulia now?

Oh, I was a lot younger, to start with that! I think I was a bit scared maybe. I came from another experience where I focused on recruitment and the company was also very different. I joined Imprezzio Global (RebelDot was initially part of Imprezzio Global in Romania) and it was a big cultural difference that came, of course, with new challenges. I thought for a moment that I'm a tiny person that can’t bring much change. Well, time proved that wrong, as we know that in RebelDot we focus a lot on giving everyone the opportunity to speak up, get involved, and why not, change things!  

I enjoyed my previous job very much, but looking back, I think it's great that I submersed myself to different group dynamics.  

Oddly enough, I now feel fresher so to speak, I don’t know how that’s possible. I figure that I take a lot of my energy from the people here in the Rebel team, that I think are so inspiring, and who impact my life greatly. The freedom of self-expression that I now feel inside the team aligns with my life fully, professionally and personally.  

If you were to name one experience that has shaped you, which one would you name?

That’s a tough one, my head’s overflown with a multitude of small moments now. I’d choose the moment in 2018 when I saw that the company is forming.  

We were veiled in uncertainty at the moment of our split from Imprezzio Global. My colleague, Petruta, and I were in the office and thought that the floor was rather silent and under a mysterious energy. Fast forward just a few months, and the new team, the Rebels were forming, and the same me and Petruta were hearing people laugh, play cso-cso, to the degree that some people found it hard for them to concentrate. Good problems to (finally) have, we thought. It was such a great sign that we were doing it right, people were forming connections, were comfortable with each other, and the future was looking bright. It felt like we started from a grey baseline and added our colors as weeks went by.

Another shaping experience was a different realization. At first, I was supposed to do it all, being a very small team. Then, new team members were implementing, and I was being kept in the loop. Now, the true accomplishment comes from knowing that the team is empowered and fully functional, whether I’m there or not. That brings a feeling of fulfillment to the everyday work!

Going back to the beginning, are you doing what you thought you would be doing as a child/ teen/ young adult, or have you always been going with the flow?

A lot of my journey so far has been marked by going with the flow, I accommodated according to what needed to be done in RebelDot. The role of a People & Culture specialist inside our team was a constant construction site, because of many context switches and changes in needs.  

If I were to think of mini-me, I always imagined I would have an artistic career, or maybe in hair styling, something that involved arts and people. Communication or something around mental health was always the most appealing.

I fondly think of my high school memories, painting after hours in the moldy basement of our school, together with our Art teacher. I think my artistic side was always preeminent, while still being anchored into reality. I think of myself as an artistic grounded person, rooted but flowing.

I ended up studying Psychology and working as a Psychotherapist for the first two years of my career.

How was that experience for you?

They’ve been, arguably, the most intense 2 years of my life. I was working full time as a recruiter and after those 8 hours, I would run to the therapy sessions, wait for my patients, then go home and create reports. At the beginning of your career as a therapist, you need to document your sessions exhaustively, as you’re being supervised by an experienced therapist.  

Later, I realized that I need to prioritize the career that I believed I was most fit for. I was doing two important things at once and starting two careers at the same time. With respect to both domains, I made a choice and decided I was better fit to be surrounded by people.  

If you had to grab something from your house in the next 5 minutes and run, what would you take?

Luna. I’d definitely take my cat, no questions there!  

What’s the one trait that you notice in interviews and immediately think that it's a good candidate?

Although I miss it very much at the moment, I haven’t been as involved in recruitment lately. I think it’s such an honor to be the first point of contact that new members of our team have and represent the entire team.  

To answer your question, there is no particular thing, but a multitude of traits. I appreciate humbleness and self-awareness, because we’re all a work in progress and I find it very important to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses equally and to want to improve.  

What’s a good company culture in your book?

I believe it's important for the company culture to reflect reality, have strong principles and values, and a way of working that is shared by the team. They shouldn't be two separate things; when you say something, people should find themselves in it. A great culture is shared, lived, and resonates with individuals' values.

I don't want it to sound cliché, but a significant part of what I experience here means having a great culture. I have been here from the beginning, and I have contributed to shaping it too. I am here because I want to be here; we operate on transparency and trust, and I put effort into making things work well. It's a culture where people connect not only during work but also outside of it because they genuinely like each other. P&C acts as a facilitator, but it doesn't pull everything on its own, as many things naturally fall into place.

As a People & Culture specialist, you have an important role inside the company and you play a part in people’s lives, therefore, your impact is big. Setting the right context is crucial for a healthy company where people feel safe to create bonds and connections, speak up, and further build said company together.  

How did you handle hard things at the beginning of the journey, like exit interviews?

At the beginning, I have to admit, I had some jitters. Doing things for the first time gets you all invested and emotional, and of course, I've made my fair share of blunders. Looking back, I keep wondering how I could've handled this or that better, but I enjoy the experience of growing as well.  

I think it's crucial to take a moment to relax and assimilate the conversation you’ve just had. My approach is from human to human, I want to understand where you’re coming from and then balance what we can do to make the situation better, for all parties involved. I strive to make things smoother, help, and add some fun to the mix. It's all about finding that sweet spot where the business and the individual both win and leave a conversation with peace of mind.  

I'm putting in the effort to see people for who they are while keeping in mind why I'm here in the first place. Sometimes, I might not be able to solve everything for someone, but when I dive into a tough chat with someone, I remember I'm doing it for the company, meaning the whole team! We're in this together, not apart.  

What made you ready for this role?

I think my background in Psychology played a big role, followed by a lot of experience (because practice makes perfect), has really helped me. If I had started those conversations from the beginning now, I would have approached them differently. I learned a great deal through hands-on experience and the opportunity to fail safely.

Having people around me like Tudi (CEO of RebelDot) and Alex (COO of RebelDot), who have been excellent examples of transparency, communication, and addressing sensitive issues, has been incredibly beneficial. We support each other, and we all share a desire for openness and transparency. I was provided with a framework that allowed me to embrace these principles. I've shaped my way of handling things by learning on my own, by going out there and doing it.  

What other people do you look up to?

There are many people at RebelDot whom I admire. I don't necessarily see them as role models, but I do take away a component from each of them. I loved the joviality and charisma of a former colleague of mine; she exuded such an optimistic energy and managed to make even the smallest tasks super exciting. I resonate a lot with Roxana, my colleague, in terms of principles and fairness. I am highly in sync with Tudi in terms of ethics and caring for people. And then there's Alex, whose unique blend of people-oriented and process-focused approach is truly inspiring.

I draw much inspiration from my People & Culture team and the people in RebelDot in general. They all contribute with something special that motivates and drives me.

Outside of our borders, I think I find inspiration in people like Adam Grant, and Brene Brown until her podcasts shifted a bit to more niche subjects that I couldn’t find myself in anymore, but I still have great admiration for her concepts on vulnerability and being yourself at the workplace. Esther Perel has a great podcast on work relationships, and I find it truly inspiring.  

What can we expect from the P&C team of RebelDot in the next year or years?

I try to avoid certainty and 100% accuracy. As much as we would sometimes like to have predictability, it's hard to say what the needs will be in the following years.  

What I can be certain of is that the P&C team will be present as a community to sustain and support all activities inside the company and that we’re going to rock it!  

If RebelDot was taken away from you or if work didn’t exist at all. What would you do?

I’d still find a way to work, produce change, and have a positive impact. At first, I would probably enjoy some time off, going for long walks in the woods, reading more, doing some sports, listening to podcasts, and spending time with loved ones. T I’d get to thinking about what my next move would be.  I’d love to practice therapy, and volunteer, as I always imagined that I would take a leap year or some time off just for that, volunteering somewhere where help is greatly needed.  

Tell me the memory that puts a smile on your face when thinking of RebelDot

At the beginning of our team, we’d give a big basket of sweets on the work anniversary of our colleagues. We’d gather at their office, grab a bite, and spend a nice moment together. I remember my second anniversary inside the team, I got to the office, and I didn’t remember that it was my anniversary at first. When the realization came, I looked around and there was no one there to share this with. I started feeling a bit down, as I was looking for literally everyone and I was quite lonely in the office. I finally reached the kitchen, and all the Rebels were gathered there waiting to surprise me. It was such a sweet moment that made me feel deeply appreciated! I have many other amazing memories, most of them are about seeing other people succeed and being celebrated, as I am not a big fan of being in the spotlight, but this one from the early days, that I remember fondly.

Final thoughts

Iulia’s story is inspiring on its own, but even more so is the impact that she has on the team. She’s a key person that balances almost everyone almost every day. We all count on her for many reasons, and she always puts in the time, effort, the knowledge, and offers help, to understand all situations, give the best advice, and lend a helping hand to make some light in the dark.  

Flavia Mocan

I’m deeply committed to fostering an equitable society. My goal is to contribute to the creation of a world where work is valued and treated with fairness, and where organizations strike a balance between work and life for their teams. I strongly advocate for mental health, inclusion, and equity, and firmly believe in empowering the youth to shape a better future.

By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.