The Cowen Partners Origin Series profiles executives from across the globe who are changing the face of business. Read along to hear their stories.
Ana Maria Sencovici’s life and career path have spanned geography, industry, and function. For Sencovici, who goes by AMS, that’s no accident.
“The goal for me was more focused on impact and creation,” said AMS who joined the Royal Caribbean Group cruise company as chief talent officer in December 2022. “Earlier on, when I was far more planful, for me, it was like wasted calories. Life never worked out that way.”
Instead, AMS’ approach to her career path has been one of open mindedness. She balances that flexibility with a heavy dose of ambition: After emigrating from Romania with her family at age 9, “mediocrity was nothing short of a sin,” AMS said.
As a student, some of the best advice she received was to plan her schedule around great professors, not specific classes — and later, to take the classes that most interested her and create her major afterward.
That mindset led her to earn a master’s in French language and literature, a liberal arts education that she said taught her “how to put ideas together,” before earning an MBA in change management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
“In my freshman year, I remember going to your Goldmans and your BCGs, and I’m like, ‘Hey, what do even your best people lack?’” AMS said. “Across the board, they said these kinds of skills — what we call either soft or power skills — the thinking, the communicating, the idea synthesis, the meaning-making.”
The main throughline of AMS’ work over the last 20 years has been the People space, though she’s tackled it from many angles. AMS came to People after a decade in investments. But a pivot during her time at American Express gave her the opportunity to lead the redesign of the company’s 401(k) plan, affecting 28,000 employees and $3 billion in retirement assets.
Since then, AMS has focused her career on the “human element” of business, consulting on human capital strategy, organizational effectiveness, and leadership development. Along the way, she’s led global employee development at American Express, built an education institute with Success Academy Charter Schools, led the Learning and Development function at Bridgewater Associates, and led change management at Genpact.
Even after decades of tackling all these formidable business challenges, AMS said she’s managed to avoid burnout through the strength of her own passion for the work. Burnout creeps up when professionals can’t see their impact, aren’t connected to the value they’re creating, and feel that their values are misaligned with what they’re doing, she said.
“Working hard in those circumstances is very tough and it takes a toll on every level,” AMS said. “For me, I think the bar for burnout is higher because I truly am passionate about, obsessed with the space that I’m in.”
Throughout her career, AMS has found that she excels when she follows that passion — whether it leads to education, consulting, or the travel industry.
“Follow the learning, follow the energy,” AMS said. “Far more than the role or the industry.”
The Origin Series by Cowen Partners fosters the union of emerging leaders with purpose-driven executives and peers who share similar aspirations. By leveraging our comprehensive tools, expertise, and network, we enable you to shape your leadership trajectory towards generating a substantial influence on your organization and the community.
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