The Power to Build: Elena Balasa

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At age 10, Elena Balasa’s father asked her what she’d do if their home in Romania burned down and she had nothing left.

“I will be desperate and I will cry so hard,” Elena replied. “No,” her father said, “You will think of what you need to do so you can build a better house than before.”

Starting over, metaphorically building a better house, is how Elena lives her life.

Engineers, Elena and her “college sweetheart” husband began trying to immigrate legally to the U.S. in 1990—with no success. After becoming Canadian residents, in 2003 her husband was offered a job as an engineer manager in Salt Lake City, Utah. Together, they had to decide whether to start over in a new country.

Unknown“When we decided to emigrate we knew our challenges: different culture, no close family around us, starting our life again when we were 38 years old and most families are settling down at this age. However, we didn’t realize then how challenging the transition would be!” Elena says.

Today, Elena says she’s reached her “biggest dream.” She and her husband are U.S. citizens. They have a cherished daughter, good careers, and opportunities to learn and grow. Elena is working on her MBA, volunteers for different causes, and feels grateful and proud that she can help other people in need.

Fearless Females Forum 5 Cs With Elena Balasa

Picture- Elena

“We create and we can control our fears. Nobody else can.”

1. What’s the most courageous decision you’ve made?

I left Romania when I was 37 years old and I was a respected professional in my field. Looking for freedom and independence, in 2004 I started my life again from bottom: getting an H1B visa and a job when I was six months pregnant, finally having a child after five miscarriages, driving 110 miles a round trip every day, starting my day at 5AM and ending it at 11PM, taking care of my family and my new born baby, sometimes sleeping a couple of hours a night and not calling in sick.

2. What choices are most important to you?

It is very important for me to be a respected and independent professional while being a good mother and wife. Balancing my professional life with my personal life is very important, and I work very hard to make wise decisions so I do not commit to more than I am able to do. The second choice is to work for companies that truly respect hardworking people and as a result gives them opportunities to grow and learn. Even is a new project is an exciting opportunity. I always ask lots of questions to understand if the culture and the core values of the new company fit mine. If they don’t, then I will not take the position.

3. What fears have you conquered?

I work very hard and I am very “hungry” to learn and improve my skills and wisdom every second, so my daughter and family will not have to suffer because of: hunger, cold, not having light and heat in the house, not having running water or warm water to wash, being under the power of an authoritarian and dictatorial system. I take advantage of my equal opportunities to build my life based on my opportunities, not based on who I know.

4. What conversation made the most impact on you?

imagesI still remember a conversation I had with my father when I was ten years old right after the biggest earthquake in Romania. He asked me “What will you do if your house burned down and you had nothing left?” I told him that I will be desperate and I will cry so hard. He told me that this is not the right approach. His words still resonate in my ears, “No, this is not the right approach. You will think about what you need to do so you can build a better house than before.” These words helped me understand that I have the power to build a better future not matter how bad the past may have been.

5. What do you want women to get clear about? 

Today we women are so lucky compared with to our mothers. We have so many opened doors and support to achieve whatever we put our minds to. Together we can create a better future for our children; we are able to educate them better than ever. We are able to be independent and create our own future. We still have challenges but they are not even close to the challenges in the past. However, we have to work hard and conquer our fears to we create the life we want. The only thing that can stop us from becoming who we want to be is our “fear.” We create and we can control our fears. Nobody else can.

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Fearless Females Forum is a showcase for inspiring women who find the courage to meet their calling, solve a problem, or take a road less travelled.

We’re very grateful to Elena Balasa for sharing her story. She’s asked us to tell you that she welcomes comments, connections and conversations. You can reach her on LinkedIn at Elena Balasa.

Are you a Fearless Female ready to have the spotlight shine on you? Calling All Fearless Females tells you how to share your story.

Comments

  1. I love Elena’s dynamic work ethic! Great interview, Jone!

  2. Thank you so much, Cathy! As always, love your positivity and support for me and other Fearless Females –like you!

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