This month the Aspirers in the Spotlight series features Luca Mateescu. Passionate about the ability of people to create change in the society, Luca led Aspire’s strong growth between 2016 and 2017, overseeing the transition to financial sustainability, international expansion and expansion move towards business incubation.
“Aspire gave me the first real sense of belonging, which was a major push forward in terms of motivation. To this day I remember a group of like-minded people searching for their path, in an open, friendly and supportive manner. Everyone has struggles, everyone has ambition, and that’s ok.” (Luca Mateescu)
Currently, Luca leads multiple markets cross-continentally for Lime – the industry leader in micro-mobility, focusing on Lime Los Angeles and Lime Romania. After building Lime Bucharest post-launch he now focuses on best practices alignment, directly managing one of the US’s major markets.
In the past, Luca has worked in over eight countries in the field of strategic consulting for internationally renowned companies such as Boston Consulting Group and A.T. Kearney.
1) If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Career progression is a system and should be treated as such. It has natural steps and key decisions. When I was younger I considered not being where I wanted to be representative of failure. Looking back, I feel blessed to have actually moved sufficiently fast along my career, but sure, more often than less, as many young people may relate, I felt stuck. I think people starting out should break down the system into its moving pieces.
- gaining access & reputation (work for the big name firms, go to the big name schools – you need a medal so people take you seriously)
- gaining experience (do what is needed to learn, go for educative exercises – you need to know what to do, inescapable)
- optimising for the goal (be pragmatic about where you want to be – you need to be able to leave the high paying job to make millions in business)
Cheating the system:
- gaining the network (make your strengths visible – you need people to know who they can reach out to you)
- gaining the sponsor (be in a position where you will be empowered to prove your worth – you need a superior/mentor that supports and wants to see you succeed, if someone does not pull you up, you cannot climb fast)
2) What are your non-negotiables?
In my personal life, my non-negotiables are authenticity, values and character. In my professional life, the core values I follow are: pragmatism, being goal-oriented and hard (or smart) work.
3) What was the hardest decision you ever had to make?
I left one of the most coveted jobs in the world that offered many perks that Romanian culture teaches you are aspirational and that I worked years to obtain, without any parachute. For someone as young as 26, going against popular culture as to what is good for you and furthermore against your own educated aspirations is, to put it mildly, not simple.
However, I’ve always felt a strong need to know and seek alignment with my values: tangible impact, appreciation vs. competition amongst peers, innovation, respect for work-life balance and going for the billion vs. the million.
4) Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
To put it simply I was always on a mission to correct what was missing in my life. Felt like a lot was missing for a long time? Sure, but was always in correction mode, never gave up.
5) What is that one book that has influenced you the most?
I am an avid believer in the value of unbiased and crisp decision-making. One great book that encompasses a lot of insight on human bias is “The Art of Thinking Clearly” by Rolf Dobelli.
6) Why people should apply for an Aspire experience? What did you gain by being part of this community?
To my earlier point, people should join first and foremost to find a sense of belonging and the motivation associated with being surrounded by a group of people with similar ambitions. I gained even more when I ultimately led the organisation, mentored my team and hopefully created a new generation of game changers. I deeply believe in ‘teaching a man to fish vs. giving a man a fish’ and what better way to dent the world than empower people to change it?
“You can have anything you want, you just can’t have everything you want.” (Ray Dalio)