Delia Burnham: ‘Learning the language was my motivational factor to come to Romania’

Delia Burnham is a social hub. She seems to always know somebody you need to get in touch with. She works in human resources, so it is quite natural for her to know a lot of people from different areas. Delia currently runs CVO Recruitment in Romania, after spending seven years in the country. She has taken some time to talk about her journey to Romania – so here’s her story.

By Corina Saceanu

When she moved to Romania seven years ago, Delia Burnham started with learning the local language. She had been studying languages at the University in UK and one of the reasons for her coming to Romania was to learn a different language. “It was an easy choice in terms of language, I could have chosen Hungary or Russia,” Delia says. Before coming to Romania, she had worked and studied in Munich and Vienna and learned German.

In Romania, she didn’t start out in the capital city Bucharest. She went to a smaller countryside town, in Buzau, where she was a English assistant on an EU language program at a high school in the city. She has worked there for nine months and learned Romanian in the meantime. “I used to visit people’s houses quite a lot, I was a bit of excitement for them, so they used to invite me to dinner. When my Romanian was good enough, I asked them to speak Romanian only. I’ve made a real effort, but this was my motivational factor to come here,” says Delia.

As with many foreigners who have eventually decided to stay in Romania, Delia had visited the country before. When she was based in Vienna, she and a group of friends who had visited the Central and Eastern Europe wanted to see a country which was different, for a summer holiday which was supposed to be a bit unusual. So they chose Romania. “I came with one of my friends and with my brother, we took the train from Vienna to Bucharest, the night train, which was an experience in itself. We spent ten days in Romania. We went to Suceava and drove around Bucovina and reached Sighisoara. After that we took the train to Timisoara and stayed at a Romanian girl we had met on the train from Vienna,” Delia remembers.

After this trip, as she had reached a moment in her life when she was unsure about what plans to make for the future, she chose to give Romania a try. “I didn’t really know what to do with myself in general, in terms of my life, so I thought I would come to Romania,” says Delia.

Seven years after this turning point, Delia speaks Romanian so well at times that, when she talks, she sounds just like a local. Not only that she emerged herself in learning the Romanian language, but she mingled with the locals and learned the culture. Thanks to her communicative nature, she has become a true social hub. I met Delia a couple of years ago at a networking event. Throughout the years, we kept meeting each other on various social occasions. She always knew somebody I wanted to meet or interview and offered her help.

“On a personal level, I find Romania a place with fun, loving joyous people, who sometimes get sad and frustrated due to the direction their country is taking. But Romanians like to make the best out of their situation,” she says. She often gets the feeling that Romania is I fact two separate countries – the public and private sectors. “It is visible now, it is quite depressing to see how the country is handling the crisis,” Delia says.

Delia started out her career in human resources in Romania. She had worked before during her university years. “I have worked from 18 to 23 during university. My first job was in a wine merchant, I worked there for four months, then I went for six months in Germany where I was an au-pair. After that, I have always worked during holiday,” she says.

But it was in Romania where she started on the human resources path. First, she was a researcher with Alexander Hughes. When she left Buzau to come to Bucharest in 2004, all she got was a list of recruitment companies. “One called me, George Butunoiu when he was working with Alexander Hughes, and they hired me,” Delia says.

She went on to become a consultant with Alexander Hughes and eventually decided to join CVO Recruitment in 2006. She is now country manager for CVO Recruitment and owns shares in the company. “I partially own the business from June 2009. My plans are to stay here for the near future and always stay in business contact with Romania,” says Delia.

Besides her involvement in the recruitment area, Delia is active in two networking groups, Business Networking International (BNI) and InterNations, where she is a Bucharest Ambassador. She is also partially involved as an intercultural coach for City Compass.

Besides all these, as she is passioned about the food and welness sector, she sees herself starting a business in one of these areas. Meanwhile, she grows her own small vegetables garden, a sort of therapeutic activity.

“I read a lot. I moved into a small house with a garden and I planted lots of vegetables and herbs. It’s extremely therapeutic. I have been doing yoga for the last five years, on and off in Romania,” says Delia. It was not a wonder to learn Delia loves cooking, considering her love for gardening.

“I am interested in this ‘return to nature’ thing, which is happening in Romania a lot more quicker than in other countries, like UK for example. Here you can go back easier to the beginning of the cycle because many people in the countryside have never left that point,” she says.

“Many things in Romania are harder to push through unless it’s about making money. And all things related to health and prevention are very important. I am pleased that Romanians have embraced this quickly,” says Delia Burnham.

Part of keeping herself balanced is her decision not to watch TV anymore. “I read newspapers and Internet news, I select what I need. But I try to avoid the stuff that makes me utterly depressed,” she says.

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