“In high school I was good at the natural sciences and took a theoretical course in computer science. That aroused my interest.”
Horina Serbanescu
Principal Engineering Manager
Microsoft

Facts

  • Horina Serbanescu
  • 43 (b. 1974)
  • Master of Computer Science from University Politehnica of Bucharest
  • Principal Engineering Manager
  • Microsoft
  • Engaged
  • Has a son aged 13
  • Fitness/yoga addict, loves Italian shoes and chocolate

Space for passion

Because her work is a passion, the hours simply fly by for Horina Sebanescu. She leads a Microsoft development team where job flexibility is essential.

Horina Sebanescu has been with Microsoft for the last 14 years. And for the last three she has been a manager. She has raised her son of 13 alone, but her fiancé has recently moved in with her. “My stable workforce”, she says with a twinkle in her eye. It’s good for her son that there are now two adults in his life, because time can be scarce for the Romanian-born developer.

“At Microsoft, there are very flexible working hours for everyone, as long as you deliver and meet deadlines. I don’t think about working hours at all because I like what I do. I think it’s like this for everyone who is passionate.”

When I becomes WE

In 1999, Horina came from Romania to Denmark for a consulting job with a small software company… and ended up staying. She then joined Microsoft, where she has since changed career paths from developer to manager. Today she is a Danish citizen and her title is Principal Engineering Manager.

“As a manager, I think of the team. It’s a change from I to WE. As a developer, I focused on delivering my part of an assignment with optimal quality. As a manager, I make sure my team delivers software created in collaboration – not just one feature, but as a whole. It’s really exciting.”

Although Horina appreciates her leadership position, she also sees it as her ongoing task to educate and develop herself. Microsoft has provided fantastic management training and excellent courses, as well as mentoring programmes, but much of the responsibility also lies with the individual.

Moved from colleague to manager

“It takes completely different skills to be a manager than to be a specialist. It’s not something you learn in one day. Communication in particular is something I practice, because everyone is motivated by something different – some by technology, others by design.”

Communication doesn’t just take place ‘horizontally’, but also ‘vertically’, so Horina has learned to talk about the whole, giving other managers a good overview. As a manager, it’s very important to be able to speak simply to each individual, and Horina feels this isn’t always easy. But the change from colleague to manager in the department was something Horina found straightforward.

“For me it was an advantage because I knew the team, their skills and tasks. Since then I have hired four more people. Getting to know them is something new. And once again, I’m reminded that it’s important to communicate clearly.”

Fear of needles forced her to give up her childhood dream of becoming a doctor

As a software developer, Horina has always had to engage in an industry where there are far more men than women, but this has never been a challenge. But it was in her first year at the University of Bucharest, because here she literally started from scratch.

“In high school I was good at the natural sciences and took a theoretical course in computer science. That aroused my interest. When I started at university, I worked hard and got really good at it, because I like to use mathematics to be creative.”

Originally, Horina’s dream was to become a doctor like her aunt, who gave her medical toys to play with. Little Horina loved the idea, until she discovered the syringes. They gave her a fear of needles, and she had to change her future direction. And it turned out that Horina Serbanescu chose a good path.