The Stena Metall diversity & competence program

“I can’t grow unless I collaborate with my colleagues”

What is it like making a career in a new language? Somebody who knows is Madalina Popescu. She is one of five international talents participating in the Stena Metall Diversity & Competence Program.

Four years ago, Madalina Popescu moved to Sweden from Romania because of the country’s economic and political situation. Today, she works with the work environment and safety at Stena Recycling in Sweden.

“It’s difficult to get integrated into society, but that challenge is part of the charm of living in another country. It’s an experience that can help you grow as an individual”, says Madalina Popescu, one of the participants in the Stena Metall Diversity & Competence Program.

She is one of the key persons in a project involving reviewing and updating instructions and routines. Her everyday work include creating routines that satisfy legislative requirements and sending these to subsidiaries, which, in turn, draw up local routines based on Madalina’s work. For Madalina, her job at Stena is not just any job. Her work gives her the opportunity to develop her Swedish language skills at the same time as she is doing what she wants to do in her career.

“I’m ambitious and wanted to return to my industry. I had the knowledge and the right education for the job, but not here in Sweden. At Stena, there are many employees who are experts in their field. Now I’m beginning to develop my knowledge”, she says.

The language created problems

The road to a job where Madalina got to work with what she wanted to do has been a long one. When she moved to Sweden, she was optimistic about her future career, but despite an attractive professional profile and a good network of contacts, she did not get the jobs she applied for. After a time, she began instead to look for a job in industries where knowing little Swedish is more accepted.

Around the same time that she was offered a job in a nursery school, she received an e-mail from her contact in the network Mitt Liv, which collaborates with the Stena Metall Group. The subject of the e-mail was a new project where the Stena Metall Group was looking for cutting-edge competence that matched Madalina’s.

“When I read about the program, I said to myself “wow, I have to do this”. It was a fantastic chance. I felt that I not only wanted to work at Stena, but that I was going to work at Stena. It was a really strong feeling”, she says.

Contributes new perspectives

In the last few months, she has been able to adapt her previous knowledge to Stena’s way of working. At the same time, her colleagues have gained new perspectives as a result of Madalina’s unique knowledge and background . Her boss and mentor Annica Winkvist has been very supportive and has encouraged her to express her perspective on the work.

“When Annica says I can do something, she makes me believe I can do it. There’s a difference between how one works in Sweden and in Romania, but I contribute other experiences, which, in some cases, can be made use of”, she says.

Annica Winkvist is positive towards the project and is happy to be able to work together with Madalina.

“She has contributed a lot of knowledge to my department and participates constructively in all our discussions and projects. Sure, language is a bit of a challenge, but as long as we in the company are patient and willing to cooperate, it’s not a problem”.

Avoiding obstacles using constructive methods

One of the reasons why Madalina Popescu appreciates working at Stena Recycling are her colleagues, who she calls “my family eight hours a day”.

“I can’t grow unless I collaborate with my colleagues. They’re really important and they trust my knowledge. If I need answers to a question or help with something, they are there for me. There is a lot of respect and I feel comfortable”.

An important part of the Stena Metal Diversity & Competence Program is language. The point is to try to communicate in Swedish even when it is tempting to switch to English. Madalina admits that industry-specific terms and names can be a problem but that she wants to learn.

“It’s difficult, but not impossible. Sometimes when I don’t understand what I’m reading at once, I go for a coffee, come back and read it again. After a bit, me and the text become friends”, she says.

Get to know Madalina Popescu

Career before Stena: Has worked as an environmental advisor and with internal audits of quality, the environment and safety. The company she worked for produced castings and forged products as well as components for various industries.

Education: a Bachelor’s degree in sociology/psychology, a Master’s degree in economics and management of companies and a Master’s degree in the management of natural resources.

Best day at Stena: Fridays. The project-related Swedish tuition and the follow-up meeting with her boss and a colleague are a couple of the highlights of the week.

About the Stena Metall diversity & competence program

A group of technicians and economists with foreign backgrounds and a university degree are participating in the work in different departments that matches their competence and expertise. The participants have been chosen based on them having a background and competence that are important for the Stena Metall Group. They each have a mentor in a managerial position. Visits to different business activities and language tuition are included in the program.

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