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4 min read
Adriana Calomfirescu

How do you build a 400+ data team from a handful in just a few years? That’s exactly what Adriana Calomfirescu, our Group Head of Data, did. Read on to learn how she grew a team of five almost tenfold in the fascinating field of data, its intersection with AI and, as of late, generative AI. Take note and inspiration from a woman who set out to be visible and create impact.


Adriana, you spearheaded the data & AI team’s growth at Endava. Can you walk us through that journey?


Absolutely. Indeed, in 2015, we started small – with just five members in Bucharest. Our journey began with a keen recognition of the power of data, later of AI and recently of generative AI, which is just a catalyser. Over time, our team has flourished, initially expanding from Bucharest to encompass Cluj and Chisinau, and eventually extending our reach to nearly all corners of Europe and Latin America. By 2022, our team had grown rapidly to over 430 members.


Currently, my colleagues work on projects in payments, insurance, media, banking and capital markets, healthcare, logistics and many other industries.


In the early days, what got you excited about data, and how did you grow your team?


Initially, spreading the word about our data competencies was crucial, and growing competencies went hand in hand with emerging opportunities. We had to explain what kind of challenges we could solve with the help of data specialists to outline our technological framework, highlight the adaptability and enthusiasm of our team members in embracing novel concepts and – obviously the last but not the least important factor – the incredible growth opportunities in this field.


It was all about establishing the value of data within the company, and data science and AI seamlessly complemented our foundation of data expertise.


We initiated our efforts by showcasing our capabilities through presentations tailored for the sales teams and delivery management communities, followed by discussions on how to spot a data opportunity within our local technical leadership from disciplines like development and architecture.


To enhance our visibility and ensure the right quality of delivery for the data assignments and projects, we introduced a dedicated journey for data specialists in TEAM.


Adriana Calomfirescu with colleagues from Endava’s TEC teamAdriana Calomfirescu with colleagues from Endava’s TEC team


Moreover, we actively participated in external presentations and delivered a lot of internal knowledge-sharing sessions on interesting topics across data- and AI-specific communities. My colleagues are also very active in writing articles on data and AI topics. For instance, since 2023, we dedicate the months of April and May to Data and AI at Endava.


You run a team of over 400 people. What’s your leadership style like?


This is a complicated question because portraying my leadership style for a team of 400 or more members is not easy.


I’d say that it’s a combination of several ingredients: ensuring that the strategic vision is properly communicated to the leadership team to get their commitment for the implementation, fostering a culture of collaboration, knowledge-sharing and accountability across locations, and effective delegation.


I believe in on-site visits, building an effective team from the beginning and sharing all the lessons learnt over the years.


When we start a new team, it’s instrumental to bring in senior profiles and strong technical talent for growing the team around them.


Endava’s data leadership team Endava’s data leadership team


Open communication is key – everyone’s ideas and solutions matter. I empower individuals to present their work and give them credit. It’s about attracting top talent, building trust, and promoting technical leadership within the team.


I believe that clear expectations, transparent communication and two-way feedback are vital. However, opportunities to grow and develop should be available to all. In the data and AI space, the technology dynamic is high, which helps me a lot in fostering a dynamic environment with hackathons, through new certifications or other technical solutions. I keep my eye on the ball all the time and create a positive engaging work environment for my colleagues.


How do you manage a team of senior professionals?


Managing senior team members requires a personalised approach. I get to know each member, understand their strengths and create space for them to excel. Building trust and leading by example is essential for a collaborative environment.


How does the team stay up to date in this fast-paced tech world?


My focus is on continuous learning and keeping pace with evolving technologies. New skills are essential. We prioritise learning because it benefits our projects, clients and end users, and equips the team with valuable new expertise.


Given that the rapid evolution of technology in this field requires continuous learning, we regularly organise hackathons. Also, since 2020, we have been running an annual Data Academy Programme from January to May. This programme caters to the upskilling needs of individuals across all grades, from junior to senior levels, focusing on enhancing our team’s proficiency in the Data tech stack.


In a few short years, data and related technologies have gone from trendy to quintessential, a cornerstone of decision-making. Endava being at the forefront of this revolution did not just happen, it was made to happen by talented, determined individuals. Among them Adriana Calomfirescu, who proves that if you’re passionate about a field, even one that is incipient, determination and talent will take you a long way. And building a great team will do the rest.


The first version of this article was previously published on LinkedIn.


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