The nomination of Alexandra Gatej, former chairman of Unilever South Central Europe (USCE) as adviser to the president of Domestic and International Business Department within the Presidential Administration, gives hope to businessmen interviewed by Wall-Street.
Nevertheless, there are voices saying that Traian Basescu’s move is largely driven by election motives.

“The nomination of Alexandra Gatej as adviser to the president it seems at least interesting. Surely, an experienced person can only bring know-how given the current economic conditions. It would be best if we had as many business persons involved in politics as possible. There is a constant need for new people to bring fresh ideas”, said Florin Pogonaru, chairman of Romanian Businessmen Association (AOAR).

Alexandra Gatej, aged 44, is one of the best known female executive in the local business environment, and one of the first Romanian executives named at the helm of overseas giants.

Alexandra Gatej was appointed as of November 1, 2005 as the manager of Unilever South Central Europe, heading the group’s operations in seven states: Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Moldova.

Monica Tatoiu, managing director Oriflame Romania has also expressed confidence in the expertise achieved by the former executive at Unilever as well as in the nomination to the Presidential Administration. She saluted the appointment of Alexandra Gatej and said she hoped for a constructive communication between the former Unilever manager and Traian Basescu.

“This is an excellent principle as we have the experience of private cash. In the Anglo-Saxon culture, after completing management position mandates, people migrate to advisory, unlike France, where the process is reversed. I see this as a win-win situation. You may be the advisor of a person only when there is a good communication.

Apart from Gatej and Monica Tatoiu, Mariana Gheorghe, chief executive officer at Petrom, one of the largest employers in Romania or Liliana Solomon, the head of Vodafone’s local operations, are only few examples of successful female executives in the domestic business landscape.

Maria Grapini, managing director of Pasmatex has also voiced confidence in the appointment of Alexandra Gatej, but the move came too late, and too close to presidential elections.

“I am not familiar with the tasks assigned by the president to Mrs Gatej, but I do appreciate the gesture of naming a businessperson who can help him with competent business advice. On the other hand, as businessman and as citizen with no connection to the politics, I think this move came late enough to spark suspicion”, said Grapini.

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