Roxana Dobrescu, Chief People Officer of commercetools, joined the company in June 2023, bringing with her almost two decades of experience in human resources and talent acquisition. In the press release announcing her appointment, she said, “commercetools is on an exciting growth journey as the engine behind the evolutions of commerce innovation from leading brands. This — and the emphasis on culture — is what drew me to the company.”
Six months later, she sat down with this writer to look back on what she’s accomplished and what she still hopes to achieve. In the process of the conversation, she shed light on five pillars she believes are key to fostering a strong culture that supports both individuals and the organization as a whole.
“It’s extremely important to us to build a culture with personality. It needs to scream commercetools and be almost aggressively authentic,” said Roxana, pointing out that we provide the leading composable commerce platform — one that stands out from the competition by giving brands the flexibility, performance and scalability to deliver outstanding shopping experiences. “This is how I see our culture evolving. We’re fostering a bold, dynamic, yet adaptable environment, where people can cultivate their learning agility, find purpose, and ultimately, a community.”
The Rolling Stones have played together for more than 50 years, however, they still recognize the importance of practicing together. Before every tour, the band typically commits to two months of rehearsing. They appreciate the opportunity to reconnect with their collective rhythm. I’m striving to create a culture at commercetools with its own collective rhythm engrained in its DNA.
Chief People Officer, commercetools
While the legendary band served as inspiration for the People Creed her team introduced this year, the heart of the message is uniquely grounded in the culture she envisions for the organization.
We are building a distinctive culture of connection and collective rhythm. A workplace where we value and enable stellar performance through building an outstanding talent horsepower.
Roxana feels that authenticity is more important than ever; without it, leadership can’t connect with its employees and that can hinder the ability to move forward as a company. “Make sure that your values, your DNA and your mission are truly reflected in your culture. Ask, “What is the legacy we would like to build?” and connect your culture to the answer.”
Roxana believes that leaders need to be open with their employees about everything that impacts the business. “Internal communication is more important than ever. Your employees can’t feel like they don’t have all the information. When things happen, they want to know why it’s happening. It’s important to explain the reasoning behind it. Part of this is just sitting down and walking people through the rationale. This creates a connection and builds trust. You can’t just assume that everyone knows you have good intentions — it takes time to cultivate that.”
One of the first projects Roxana started at commercetools was upgrading the company’s compensation and benefits. “I realized that we needed more transparency in what the process looks like, while clearly articulating our compensation philosophy and our pay principles. Employees should be able to get answers to important questions like: What do I do to get an increase? What do I do to get a promotion? Where am I positioned on the salary band? These should not be taboo topics.”
Now that the company has a defined program, she said the next step is to offer compensation enablement sessions for all commercetoolers. “How we work with compensation will be super clear and transparent.”
In her opinion, this approach is critical to the success of any company. “"Empowering managers and employees with the right know-how, visibility, and tools to understand — and have meaningful conversations about — compensation is pivotal. This way you can ensure the managers are making fair and equitable decisions that align with your organization's values and goals. The result is significantly increased satisfaction and retention, improved productivity and a stronger employer brand.”
With employees from almost 50 countries across 12 offices, along with a plethora of remote employees, creating and nurturing a sense of belonging is a priority for Roxana. The question for her is, “How do you create a culture that sticks together?”
“Connection is that glue — it’s all about people coming together and building community,” she said. She acknowledges that this can be difficult, with employees coming from many different cultural backgrounds. “Even if you are sending out one message, everyone will not understand it the same way. There are so many nuances and ladders of perception out there to navigate.”
Roxana explained that the company recently hired an internal communications expert whose sole focus is on ensuring the company is truly connecting to employees. The hope is that “through storytelling, we can build a picture where everyone can see themselves and understand the impact they are having towards the greater good and the greater success of commercetools.”
She stressed that as leaders, we can’t assume that connections will happen and community will develop organically. “That level of understanding and trust only comes when you lead with authenticity. This translates into having leaders that can be vulnerable, show the greater purpose and how each individual can connect to it. They are not only driven and passionate, but also empathetic and caring. Oh, yes, a healthy sense of humor is critical as well!”
While commercetools is known for the flexibility of its composable commerce platform, Roxana also wants us to be known for promoting a flexible culture. “Our benefits, our mindset, our workstyle — everything is flexible.”
It’s about being agile and empowering our employees. We trust them to go and do what they know best. The goal is not to manage their time, but to support them reach their goals.
Chief People Officer, commercetools
Roxana pointed out that integrating flexibility into the culture of an organization requires letting go of the idea that everything has to be monitored and controlled. “We encourage our employees to be curious, make errors, experiment and learn from their experiences. We don’t need them to be perfect. We want them to work for today and continuously improve for tomorrow.”
Roxana is passionate about the value of building a culture instilled with a growth mindset.“I truly believe that the biggest responsibility we have towards our employees is to support them in their growth journey. We’re exploring questions like: How do we accompany them in their career development path? How do we make sure that we’re showcasing all of the career opportunities and making them transparent for everyone to seize? How do we ensure the potential of each of our people is being boosted?”
Providing learning opportunities is a big part of the equation. commercetools offers an open learning and development fund that employees can tap into to support learning activities. We also offer ongoing courses and training through the commercetools Academy and have a strong mentorship program.
To Roxana, encouraging a growth mindset isn’t limited to hard skills and soft skills, it’s about helping employees become better professionals and valuable citizens. This includes everything from supporting charitable organizations and offering time off for volunteering to providing diversity training. “Our priority is to ensure that Career Development and career opportunities are happening constantly as well as nurture personal growth by offering things like diversity training and powerful ERGs.”
Roxana is adamant that “learning agility is a predictor for success.” As such, employees are encouraged to continue to learn, share their experiences and apply personal learning and insights to improve their performance and accelerate their potential. “Part of building our organizational culture is offering our people an amazing platform for them to learn and grow, to constantly accelerate their potential and increase their impact. Our commercetools Talent Horsepower”.
To learn more about what the culture at commercetools looks like, read our blog, Harnessing the impact of volunteering at commercetools.