Five minutes with Cristina Hlinschi: Cristina talks her PR journey and why it pays to be kind
This week, we sat down with our Director, Cristina Hlinschi, to talk about everything from PR in Romania, to the fast-moving fintech sector and her life outside of Babel as part of our first Babel Bios blog…
How did you get into PR? What has your journey been like?
I started my career in PR by accident – this was in another time and in another world, the mid-late nineties in post-communist Romania. A time and place where private business was in its infancy and the rules had yet to be written.
I’d just graduated from university, with a degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures, and I had no idea what I wanted to be; my first “grown-up” job was as a PR account manager for British Airways in Romania. BA was an incredible company to learn, grow and become a well-structured, well-rounded professional. It also meant I got to discover and fall in love with London and the UK.
My career then veered towards payments and professional services with global B2B payments platform Edenred, where I spent eight very happy years in-house in their Romanian branch, first as PR and Communications Manager, then Marketing & Communications Director. I was part of an exceptional team at a key time in Edenred’s development, and we helped its relentless growth from already strong beginnings, into a global actor, with global reach and a complex product portfolio. The corporate experience was invaluable and gave me a really strong insight into how to engineer growth in a large-scale organisation, and how to use PR and communications levers effectively to fuel commercial and strategic growth. I was ready to put those insights to use in more than one industry – so I set up my own PR practice, which I ran for 10 years, working with B2B clients in Central and Eastern Europe in payments, fintech, health-tech and professional services.
The entrepreneurial experience was deeply transformative: it made me fearless and completely changed my appetite for, and aversion to risk. It gave me the drive to move to the UK, a much more established market and PR industry, where for the past three years I have been able to combine the learnings and agile mindset of 20 years of PR in Central and Eastern Europe, with the mature approach of the UK market. The best of both worlds.
If you weren’t making money from your job, what other reason would make you come to the office?
My favourite part of the job, the one that keeps me coming to the office and keeps me interested and passionate, after two decades of PR and comms, is the chance to gain knowledge of so many different verticals and businesses: in the course of my career, I’ve been very fortunate to get to work with world leaders and world disruptors in fintech and payments, health-tech, cloud ops, energy and renewables, professional services, and travel. My deepest passion is learning, and this profession gives me so many opportunities to gain an understanding of how the myriad of fragments and strands of the B2B world underpin the workings of daily life worldwide. How the inner mechanisms of technology, finance and industry move society forward.
I get to meet so many incredibly smart and knowledgeable people, who are building impressive businesses, and every day I get to use my knowledge of communication strategies and my flair for tactics to help them in their business missions. To me, this is incredibly rewarding.
Why do you think Babel hired you?
We share a similar philosophy when it comes to PR, being part of an inspired team and to work-life harmony, so we chose each other. Pragmatic creativity, personal accountability, a relentless focus on being at the top of our game, honesty and mutual respect.
What has been your greatest accomplishment in Babel?
It’s early days as Babel and I “just met”, two months ago; but so far I would say my greatest accomplishment has been building sync and momentum with the teams here at Babel – both our people and client teams.
What’s a typical day in your life at Babel?
Depending on whether it’s a day in the office or working from home, the context is different, but the essence is the same. I love being in the office – the vibe, the sheer energy and the exchange and flow of ideas. But I also love my WFH days, with the uninterrupted focus they enable.
A typical day will start with a review of the day’s news in the sectors and markets I cover. Given the complexity and the incredibly fast pace of the media and social media landscape, I put a lot of energy into keeping ahead of key trends, key issues, and opinion makers and influencers in my areas of interest (whether that’s technology, fintech and payments, cloud ops and enterprise tech, or robotics and AI). Understanding how the moving pieces all relate to each other helps us as PR professionals to create value for our clients, so this is an important part of my day.
I do a daily review of priorities on my client accounts and make sure our respective teams at Babel are set up to power through their projects – we flag potential blockers and map out solutions and contingency plans. Some days will be more focused on developing strategy or fine-tuning tactics for various clients, while others are dedicated to getting in touch with journalists, analysts and influencers – I find this incredibly energising, and I love the balance. One of my favourite things is working with my Babel colleagues and supporting them to turn ideas into plans and plans into action.
What’s a typical day in your life—at home, for instance on bank holidays?
There’s no such thing as a typical day at home. Most of my personal time is currently focused on experiences with my eight-year-old daughter. I am acutely aware of how fleeting this time is, and what an incredible privilege it is to share and guide these years of her life. My favourite days will include a jumbled-up mixture of books, yoga, homework, skiing, lego, cycling, gymnastics, piano, gardens, day trips, playdates, dinners, and catching up with my friends all over the world. The only constants to my days are coffee, laughter, news and music.
What do you think people are not talking about enough—in PR and life, generally
How to be kind and why it matters.
To hear more about how you can become a part of the Babel team, please do not hesitate to get in touch.