Alla Formusati: The Story of Becoming a Startup Director in Your First Job
Every Grafit Holding employee can arrive as a newbie and become a project director or even a startup co-founder. This is not an exaggeration just for the sake of a wow effect, but rather an ordinary story of almost every single top manager in our #successtory section. Today, we are going to tell you about our ambitious CEO of the Sovamax USA startup – Alla Formusati. Working in our team was her first and successful attempt to build a career. We found out first-hand, how she managed to do it.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you joined Grafit.
My name is Alla Formusati, I am the CEO of the Sovamax USA project. I joined Grafit Holding in 2013 and this was my first job. I graduated from the Alecu Russo State University of Balti, the foreign language faculty, specializing in English and German translations. I chose German accidentally: when entering the university, it turned out that it comes in one set with English. Studying German was hard but I decided to take it till the end.

After the university, I went abroad with my friends for an entire year to travel, relax, and understand what I wanted to do next. I wasn't making any particular plans during this vacation, but I missed Moldova and wanted to return. When I came back home, I decided to not waste time and sent my CV to several companies, among which was Grafit Holding. I got a quick response, went to the interview, we liked each other, and I started my career in the company.
So, this is your first job? What did you expect from it?
Initially, when I joined SovaMax EU (the project deals with buying and selling consumables for printers and copy machines), I didn't have any experience in sales and understanding of, who my clients are. I had a lot of questions, but I was very lucky with my mentor – Cristina Vatamanu. She was my manager that taught me all the peculiarities of the job, while my ambitions and curiosity helped me not to quit halfway and to become the head of one of the holding's projects in the future. During that time, I realized that the most important thing in training is to follow the advice of people that understand the work more than I do.

First half a year I worked as a sales representative and gained experience. As soon as I showed good results, I was offered a promotion to the sales manager's position. I learned a lot about management and communication with my team in this position. Then, I moved on to the position of sales department vice president, where I worked until the end of 2018. And since then, for more than 2 years I am the head of the growing startup project – SovaMax USA.
During that time, I realized that the most important thing in training is to follow the advice of people that understand the work more than I do.
What personal traits should a good manager have?
A good director is all about ambitions, perseverance, and mental flexibility. Perhaps, besides this, a manager should be open-minded in communication as well as in the development of business, processes, and many other things.
You managed to work with businesses from Europe and the USA. What's the difference between them?
Both markets are united by the requirement of a high level of English knowledge. This is particularly felt in the USA since people react negatively if they hear a foreign accent. If you can't express your thoughts correctly, you won't be able to get through to them. It's necessary to be strong and persistent. Speaking of Europe, Europeans are closer to us in terms of mentality and it's easier to make business with them. America is different, it has its own culture and a particular communication format that is characteristic for them. Besides that, American businessmen develop their own sales and purchasing strategies, and if you don't know them, you simply have zero chances to work with them. This is why we make a huge accent on training newbies that start working on the US market, so that they know the basics and can handle communication from the very first month.
Can you briefly describe newbie training stages?
Stage one of training starts with studying information about the product, clients, and negotiation strategies. Stage two is calling, after which some have questions because theory differs from practice. This is how newbies learn to do their first steps in business. Also we offer unlimited mentorship from the manager or head of the department, who is always ready to help. After three months, when the employee gains some experience, they are transferred to a commissioned sales or purchase plan. This is when the great adventure and the real work begins.
How would you describe your team and why is it cool to be a part of it?
SovaMax USA is a team of responsible people, who know what they want and what is expected of them. They are positive, smart, persistent, and fearless. I like the fact that I managed to gather people that are ready to move forward, solve problems, and always 'stay hungry' for new knowledge. Right now we have 16 people in the team, who are split into two teams: purchasing department and the sales department.

Besides, it's interesting to work with us because we daily communicate with cool people from various cultures, who can teach us a lot. Our activity is directly associated with human psychology, we regularly build communication, which leads to fantastic experiences for us. I like that employees of the holding help each other and the results of every person are appreciated by the management. What's also highly important is that one can earn decent money with us without having to go to some other country.
I like the fact that I managed to gather people that are ready to move forward, solve problems, and always 'stay hungry' for new knowledge.
How do you keep the "fighting spirit" of your team?
We have a tradition – Friday Beer: we go for a beer every Friday after work hours. In these meetings, we relax and get to know each other outside the office.
Also, for instance, we get together and discuss plans, weekly results, and share our experiences.
What do you like the most about your job?
I like working and communicating with people the most. I am inspired by strong and smart people that I can learn from. You know, Steve Jobs' words have become my motto: "It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do." I like cooperating with exactly this type of people and to evolve together with them.
Where do you get your motivation and strength from? Family, success at work?
All in one: family support, my stubbornness, and results. I always want to manage everything and show what I'm capable of. Also, my hobby – adrenaline – helps me a lot. I love speed, powerful cars, and the moment when you press the accelerator pedal, and find yourself in front, and realize that you've made it.

At home, there's my Stafford named Jafar waiting for me every day – I named him after the villain from the Aladdin animated film. They are very similar – both are real bandits, I like traveling, it charges me with energy! My favorite thing about traveling is to meet different people, get acquainted with their culture and way of thinking. I love Switzerland and consider it an amazing country!
Would you like to leave Moldova?
No, I don't want to leave. This is where my home is, I like it here. In addition, I feel responsibility and respect towards people that helped me achieve everything I have today.

I am sure that we still can change a lot in our country – everything starts with each one of us. It's something that we should do, not 'the others.' Grafit is the place where you want to stay and develop.
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