Career Story: Christina Ianko, Raiffeisenbank Russia

May 16, 2013

Professional MBA Banking alumnus

What stages in your life have had the greatest impact on you and why?

Looking back, I would say two moments in my life have shaped my professional and personal development: leaving Romania to study abroad for my MA, and moving to Vienna to work for Raiffeisen Bank International and pursue the MBA program. While the first provided the environment that is indispensable if you want to succeed in an international company, the second turned out to be the perfect “recipe” for anyone to boost their career: work experience combined with the extensive knowledge gained in class.

Did you originally want to pursue a career in a different field? If so, why is it that nothing has come of your plans?
I have a BA in Mathematics and Computer Science. Hence, the obvious thing for me to do would have been to pursue a career in a related field. I would say that banking/risk management is not far from that since the analytical skills I have thanks to my background have turned out to be a strong asset, even a “must”, in my career.

How and why did you come to work for Raiffeisen Russia?
The MBA program showed me that I have what it takes to move on in my career, and after 4 years as a risk/Basel II manager at Raiffeisen Bank International, I have decided to use the knowledge I have gained to advance my career and join one of our network units – Raiffeisenbank Russia.

What has changed in your career as a result of your MBA degree? How did the program support you in reaching your career goals? What concrete career opportunities have opened up for you?
You should always keep in mind that an MBA degree will never guarantee career success. You must seek opportunities and have the courage to grab them and make significant changes in your life, if needed. During the MBA program, I have not only acquired a lot of knowledge but also—and this was extremely valuable—heard from others about their experience in fields such as leadership, managing people and organizations. After graduating, I was offered the opportunity to lead a risk modeling team at Raiffeisenbank Russia, one of Raiffeisen’s network units—requiring me to relocate from Vienna to Moscow. I accepted and have never regretted my decision.

What was your biggest professional/personal success?
My younger sister considers me a role model – for me, this is my biggest success.

What are your goals for the coming year? Your goals in general? Is there still something you absolutely want to do?
In the coming year, I want to go backpacking in Cambodia and Vietnam with friends of mine and learn Russian, at least the basics. Professionally, I want to expand our team, so that we will be able to take over more responsibilities than we currently do. As for something I absolutely want to do, I hope one day I will be able to adopt one or more children.

What do you consider a “great luxury”?
3 weeks of vacation.

What was the last book/film you really enjoyed?
I am currently reading “A Song of Ice and Fire”, a fantasy saga by George R. R. Martin. My favorite movie is “The Lord of the Rings”—so I stick to the same genre.

How would you characterize your philosophy of leadership? Has it been influenced by a leadership role model?
As a leader, people must always be your first priority. I believe you can only be the best and deliver the best results if you love your job. You must mentor the people you are leading, foster their development and support them, enabling them to discover what they most like and are good at.

If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
I believe we are all where we should be.

Why would you recommend the Professional MBA of the WU Executive Academy? What did you like the most?
The MBA program offers the best combination you can ask for: top-level teachers with tremendous experience in their respective fields, international fellow students with strong backgrounds to learn from—all wrapped in a very tough “sweat blood” schedule. What I liked the most was the team feeling among students, the fact that there was no rivalry, which would characterize an MA program for example: we were all there to learn together, to learn from each other, by sharing our knowledge and experience.


My motto in life:
Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. (Nelson Mandela)
I can laugh about:
Jokes about the economy/banking that only we can understand.
Mistakes I am most likely willing to forgive:
Mistakes, provided those who have made them are willing to take responsibility.
I would spend my last money on:
… paying my Internet bill.
In 20 years I will be:
... still be working hard because I cannot change who I am.

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