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Human values2 women_business_leaders_en

  4. 4. Contents The main virtues of top leaders.......................................2 (Bálint Vojnits) The details and the significant personalities................3 (Dimitar Ivanov) Business + Lady = Success2 + Stress2 ...................................4 (Madlen Algafari) Aggiliki Babaouka.............................................................6 MAD TV Alena Georgieva...............................................................8 Indesit Company Anelia Dinova....................................................................10 Lawyer Agency “Dinova & Rusev” Anita Blajevska............................................................13 Studio Moderna Bistra Ilkova........................................................................15 Aval In Vesela Barbukova.............................................................18 Aspekti Vesela Borislavova............................................................20 Rollplast Vesela Ilieva......................................................................22 Unique Estates Daniela Petkova...............................................................24 POC Doverie Joanna Dimitrova.............................................................26 State Enterprise National Railway Infrastructure Company Head Office Elena Marinova.................................................................29 Musala Soft Elza Markova.....................................................................32 BELLA Bulgaria Irena Komitova..................................................................34 Creative Solutions Kalina Halacheva.............................................................38 Unica Mara Doichinova..............................................................40 FPI Hotels & Resorts Mariana Miteva-Blagoeva..............................................43 Martineli Marchela Abrasheva.......................................................46 TNS BBSS Gallup International Nina Noeva.......................................................................49 First Bulgaria Petya Dimitrova...............................................................51 PostBank (Eurobank EFG Bulgaria) Petya Slavova...................................................................53 Festa Holding Petya Todorova................................................................55 Winery House TODOROFF Dr. Radina Denkova.........................................................58 Aesthe Clinic Reni Yordanova................................................................60 AFA Rumyana Velinova...........................................................64 Atridi Group & Smart Ventures Sasha Bezuhanova...........................................................66 Hewlett-Packard Stanislava Koleva..............................................................69 Sikos-UC Engineer Snezhana Semova...........................................72 Saint Gobain Construction Products Bulgaria, Weber Teodora Georgieva.........................................................74 OMV Bulgaria Ulyana Vincheva..............................................................76 Dental Tribune Bulgaria Members & Media partners.............................................78 www.humanvalue.eu1
  5. 5. www.humanvalue.eu2 Bálint Vojnits Executive Director Human Value International Introduction article from Bálint Vojnits for “Women - Business Leaders in Bulgaria” THE MAIN VIRTUES OF TOP LEADERS The bigger the company, the more extensive scope of tasks are on the company’s head. For the increasing number of tasks, a growing team is necessary. Therefore, leaders must focus more specifically. Success or failure is team work. Next to a senior management team, what is actually the virtue of an experienced executive leader? This is the networking skill - both towards colleagues and the buyer. Women master this art by all means. Life has proved in many cases that women can achieve anything in life. There are no barriers. Women have special powers. What exactly are these special forces? How do you obtain this power from women? Well, I can say that I’ve been doing a research on this topic for decades, which means a qualitative rather than quantitative nature of test series. I conducted many interviews with both men and women, many questions were asked on the topic, and I have tried practical experiments for many years in search of an answer as to what the trick is. My observations suggest that the answer is in the ego. When a senior female manager feels good in her skin, she owns a positive ego and relies on her exceptional strength. Self-confidence and positive attitude are there or not, the gender does not matter. However, such a psychological condition in women is very dangerous. How? Consider just a few examples: appearance is one of the most dominant body language signals. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Thus the eyes play a key role in the positive aura. The most important realization is that look does matter and if someone uses this tool well, it will turn to an advantage in many regards. The most significant evidence that proves this is that the beauty industry has recognized this. Products, communication began to support this opportunity. As a person’s face expresses with the harmony of the details, look is immediately followed by the mimics of lips and other facial muscles. This is how the message is completed. This is the first step in making contact. I manfully admit that successful female leaders excel in this. We also know that this is just the beginning of the successfull project. To achieve the goals, professional team needs to be set up, regardless of the gender of the leader!
  6. 6. www.humanvalue.eu3 Dimitar Ivanov Country Manager Bulgaria Human Value International Introduction article from Dimitar Ivanov for “Women - Business Leaders in Bulgaria” THE DETAILS AND THE SIGNIFICANT PERSONALITIES Dear friends, it is a great pleasure for me to present to youroursecondeditionoftheHumanValueInternational series HUMAN VALUES. Now is the time to once again express my gratitude to everyone who shared their precious time in order for this topical reading material to be a pleasant experience. I believe that what helped us was our desire to make this edition interesting and rich on information. The thing that I regret the most is not being able to talk to more women business leaders in Bulgaria. Their contribution is very useful to business – not only as a financial policy and best practice, but also as the culture of communication and rich communication. I’m impressed by the fact that women business leaders: are creative, have found the professional call, are simply being women, persons depending only on themselves, have secured the ground beneath them, reliable and dedicated to their family and career, strong and confidentintheirpositionaswomen,mothersandleaders, fearless to be themselves, dedicated and consistent, understanding the voice of their heart, paying attention to small details, taking care of themselves, others and “big” things (those that are meaningful and important), found themselves and their inspiration, ignoring luck in favor of mind, remembering their past, doing their work with love, appreciating every step towards top-positions, able to control not only people but their own freedom, enjoying being emotionally provoked, realizing the fact that life is very valuable. There is a strong bond between satisfaction, received from work and the whole satisfaction from life. But what if the whole satisfaction from life depends on well-being? But what if well-being means for us to feel good and live good. I personally have found an answer to these questions and I believe that all of you will find little pieces which will encourage your personal and professional growth. Because everyone knows that they come together. I wish you pleasant meetings with the ladies from HUMAN VALUES 2!
  7. 7. Madlen Algafari Psychotherapeut www.humanvalue.eu4 Introduction article from Madlen Algafari for “Women - Business Leaders in Bulgaria” BUSINESS + LADY = SUCCESS2 + STRESS2 Some years ago I made an approximate portrait of the ideal Bulgarian leader without claiming that is profoundly correct. The below mentioned qualities were concluded by me after various group trainings within corporate teams. 1. Faultless in his competency, but able to admit personal mistakes. 2. A character, not a responsibility. Able to be accepted as a person, not just by his work functions. 3. Interested in people, not their status when entering in a relationship with his employees. 4. Demanding, but able to encourage. 5. Representative, not looking like a punk. 6. Consistent in his approach, because unstable behavior leads to mistrust, but who is also able to change if needed. 7. Able to say NO and SORRY. 8. Who knows how the opposed sex thinks. 9. Proactive and who is risking responsibly. 10. Ready to be a role model. 11. Looking for feedback from his employees, without being afraid of learning the truth about himself. 12. With adequate self esteem, neither overrated, nor suppressed. 13. Openhearted and honest. 14. Compassionate to the needs of others and tolerant for the individuality and opinion of other. 15. Able to lose, without blaming others. 16. To know as close as possible the problems of his employees, because otherwise it will be difficult for him to manage them. It’s like being assigned as a Director of a production plant, which you haven’t heard of before, you don’t know neither the production process, nor capabilities of people working there. Who do you think is more likely to meet these sixteen conditions, a man or a woman? There’s nothing feminist in what’s written above! I’m just saying as a fact that based on what I’ve read from many professional books and my fifteen years of experience as a therapist that in the current Bulgarian conditions the more successful leaderwillbeawoman.Keywordbeing‘today’!Wehave had bad experience from the authoritarian regime and we are very sensible about such managerial approach. This is why the female vision (which can also be applied by a male manager) is very successful today. And I don’t think this is only applicable for Bulgaria. The century old balance between man and women was shattered. Male dominance is being accused for many dramas in today’s humanity. Rehabilitation of a female beginning contributes to the healthy balance in all aspects of our lives. I don’t have as an aim to praise Matriarchy. I also consider myself a strong woman who needs a strong man by her side! For centuries the world of business has been considered a man’s world. According to labor psychologists there are several styles of exchange and progress in business hierarchy: power (competition) strategy, active seduction (in a widest sense of the word), cooperation, accommodation, compromise, retrieval. But if you think about these strategies, all six of them are easier to be applied again by a woman.
  8. 8. Or if we have to summarize, the leader should never forget that his place on top of the pyramid depends entirely oh him, as well as on everything below him, because this pyramid has been built from bottom to top and there can be no roof without a foundation. Those who forget it are considered authoritarian leaders. Authoritarian style of managing leads to aggression withintheemployees.Andwhensuchaggressioncannot be expressed in its pure form, it transforms into anger and finds a different way out – anger towards those who are like you and towards the whole organization. The last one inevitably leads to destruction of a team or entire company. Women in business wouldn’t allow this to happen so easily. In their biologically programmed strategy of behavior lies the pursuit of unity, family and care. Their radars for human relationships are well developed and the men’s world in which we have lived for a long time, also developed some male qualities within her, unlike men those female approaches and strategies are yet to be rehabilitated and approved. Pendulum however is always swinging in both directions with the same amplitude. So far it looks like it’s much easier for a woman to be the boss. But… no matter how easy, it is still very difficult for her, because she must confront Patriarchal presumptions from men in work conditions, as well as many women on lower positions. Sometimes women lead a ruthless battle trying to realize every aspect of her feminine beginning – being a mother or lady of the house. The burden becomes too heavy and this is why many women on top positions suffer from more stress and put a lot of efforts in proving their abilities. More efforts also reflect on relationship with her intimate partner, who often feels like an inferior. This conflicts with his male ego. This brings even more conflicts to woman-leader who herself needs even more powerful man beside her, to feel the safety she needs. It is not a secret that most of the succeeded women are tomboys, and such a woman needs even more tomboy- ish man to feel good. Virtuous equilibriums and female finesse will not work. When a woman is strong, she simply cannot be weak. This is why her relationships with her partner often enter the crisis if he isn’t even stronger and ambitious person. So there, business plus woman equals square success plus square stress. “А matter of choice” is the most logical answer! Psychology however has lots of logics that sometimes seem like conflicting. There are born to be leaders, and those born to be privates. Nobody is better or worse than the other. But it gets bad when somebody finds himself in the shoes of another! The price of success of a womаn in business may be a square stress, but it’s even worse when these strong girls find themselves in failed realization. I wish you success, girls! Be the role models for a successful way of managing your life into even more balanced world, where even ward can be fought with kind heart, patience and the feeling of founding the wholeness! www.humanvalue.eu5
  9. 9. Aggiliki Babaouka Manager Business Development for Balkans MAD TV Sector: Media “A manager should have trust in the creative people!“ Aggelliki Babaouka for Human Value International Would you present yourself in a professional way? Would you present in short your company? I work for MAD TV. It started as a music TV station back in 1996. Right now, Mad has become one of the most popular music brands in Greece. Today Mad operates on a daily basis, besides Mad TV, four TV channels (Mad/Bulgaria, Mad World/UBI/ Australia, Blue Channel/ANT1 Satellite/USA, GNet/ Goody’s/Greece), one radio station (Mad Radio 106,2 Hz), five music-interactive audio channels in Nova (the only digital platform in Greece) and websites (www.,, etc.). Mad also offers a wide range of B2C and B2B services such as: Mo’ Mad (a pre-paid mobile telephony in cooperation with Wind), Go Mad (interactive service in Novaplatform),MadShop(onlineCDshopthroughwww., Nova and i-mode Cosmote mobile telephony), Mad Full Tracks (full music tracks download service in cooperation with Wind mobile telephony company), Mad Scanner (mobile service for music identification for Vodafone, Wind & Mo’ Mad subscribers), real time video streaming of Mad TV’s program for 2G & 3G mobile phones and mobile content (ring-tones, logos and MMS) to all the top mobile telephony companies in Greece (Wind, Vodafone, Cosmote). Furthermore Mad organizes a series of events and contests, namely: Mad Video Music Awards (the only annual music awards ceremony in Greece), Mad Secret Concerts (series of secret gigs), Mad Live in Athens (concerts with international performers), Athens Music Forum (the only conference for the music industry in Greece), Mad4Bands (annual competition for promoting new bands), etc. I think we have moved forward a lot since 1996. I am with MAD TV from 1997. It is a long time. I feel like MAD is my home. My exact position now is Balkans Development Director. I started as a Sales and Marketing Director, on 2005 I had a one-year break and came back to my present position on 2006. We decided to start our expanding in Balkans with Bulgaria, since it is close to Greece and the culture is similar to ours. The next years we are planning to expand to Serbia, Romania, and Albania. Would you tell us about your career? My first job was very funny. I had not finished school yet. I wanted to have money in order to buy Christmas presents to my family, so I started working in a chocolate factory. I was putting little stickers inside the chocolate packages. I was 17 years old then. www.humanvalue.eu6
  10. 10. We did not have a special Marketing program in universities, so I had to study abroad. However, my family was not very rich. I started in a college in Athens, and on the 2nd year I decided to move to New York. I went to a public university there to study Marketing, but I actually did Communications. I was working in a video club in order to pay for my tuition. My first profession in my present field was in 1990, before going to New York. I was a Product Manager for Yoplait Yoghurt. I got this job because of a teacher on the college who really appreciated my creative way of thinking. It was very hard because I did not have enough working experience. I stayed with them for almost three years and I decided to go to New York and finish my studies. Later I came back to Greece. I started a job that had nothing to do with Communications or Marketing. In my mind I had to start from the lower lever in the industry, so I decided to accept an offer on sales department of a leader packaging company. In order to be good at Marketing, you have to know about how consumers think. You have to have your own experience starting from the bottom line. When I got that, I moved on. I changed two more jobs. When I read the classified for the position of Sales and Marketing on MAD, I knew that MAD is the right place for me. It was like a dream work. The team was very young and the atmosphere was cool. I was confident that I was the right person for that position. And I guess I was right. I really enjoy what I do. Nothing comes easy. However, I am sure that by dealing with the difficulties of working abroad, I become more open-minded. What sort of challenges a woman at a top management position encounters? Many people are telling me that it is a great advantage to be a woman in business. I think that it has nothing to do with being a woman. The most important is to enjoy what you are doing and feel confident about yourself. The only thing that could be a disadvantage (for some women) is that a woman at a top level management position should be good - besides her carrier-, as a woman, as a lover, as a mother, as a housewife and so on. How do you balance personal & professional life? What compromises do you have to do? I do not balance it. I cannot lie about that. I am not a Super Woman. I do not have my own family (still) but when I agreed on taking this position, I knew that I would have to work more than the average employees and would have to travel a lot. I knew that I would not be able to watch the news at 7 o’clock on TV with my soul mate on the couch. I was totally aware of all that and I have made my own choices. This is something that hopefully is going to change in the near future. Since the development of MAD on Balkans is running successfully I believe that soon I am going to be able to spend more time with my partner in life. In your opinion and according to your experience, is there inequality when a woman and a man compete for a same position? Both women and men need to find the balance between being ambitious and their attitude to people. Both men and women can be equally successful if they really believe in what they do. But… if there is a difference between men and women when competing for the same position, it is definitely not an advantage on the women’s side. What is your motivation at this position? What do you like most in your job? I like the fact that MAD has a creative way of thinking. Also I really like that we support music. For example in Bulgaria we support the local community of зеиодипеия. We promote them through Mad’s network and we have managed to make a nice network of performers in order to help them share their work with the rest of the Balkans. This is something that really motivates me. This is something that keeps me happy all the time. On top of everything else, what motivates me most is our C.E.O. Mr. Kouris & Mad’s team, which is composed of enthusiastic people who really love and enjoy what they are doing. What is your message to the businesswomen? Trust creative people and give a chance to people who really enjoy what they are doing. Positive way of thinking will lead you to be more creative and definitely more unique in whatever you chose to do! www.humanvalue.eu7
  11. 11. Alena Georgieva Director for Bulgaria and Balkans Indesit Company Sector: Domestic Electronics “Finding your right place is the right way to achieve the balance!“ Alena Georgieva for Human Value International Would you present yourself in a professional way? Would you present in short your company? I am Country Manager of Indesit Company for Bulgaria and the Balkans and our office is located in Sofia. The Balkan countries, which I am responsible for, are Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo. Indesit Company is the second biggest company for household appliances in Europe and the fifth biggest company in the world. Company’s sales for 2008 are € 3.2 billion and the sold appliances exceed 15 millions. Indesit, Hotpoint-Ariston and Scholtès are the main trademarks of Indesit Company. The company has 18 factories and 24 representation offices all over the world and has 17 000 employees. Would you tell us about your career? University with a degree in English Philology. Later, I continued my education at the Athens branch of the Delaware University. I also majored in International Business Relations at the University of National and World Economy. Currently, I am a member of the Journalists’ Union, the Managing Board of the Bulgarian-Italian Trade Chamber, and the Women Entrepreneurs’ Club. I started my career at the office of the European Community in Athens in the 90s where I worked on joint venture programs for EU countries, Bulgaria and Romania. After my return to Bulgaria I became Marketing and Communications Manager at Opel General Motors. Afterwards, I worked for British American Tobacco for more than nine years, three of which as Business Development Manager for Central and Eastern Europe at the Regional Centre in Budapest. In 2001, I returned to Bulgaria to take the position General Manager for Indesit Company in Bulgaria. Three years ago the Bulgarian office expanded into regional office for the Balkans and I became Country Manager for the whole region which is my current position. As a whole, at the beginning I was working in the field of marketing and communications, then I transferred to business development and management. I accepted the management of Indesit Company Bulgaria because it was a big challenge for me and I was also interested in the company and the products it offers. www.humanvalue.eu8
  12. 12. What sort of challenges a woman at a top management position encounters? Iamnotcomfortablewiththemale-femaledifferentiation in management. Male and female managers face the same challenges. A woman with a career should be able to organise herself so that her normal family and private life is not disrupted. In my opinion a professional is good at what he or she does irrespective of the gender. However, men and women have different approaches in business and negotiations. Women are more likely to compromise. They are more sensitive to the direction of the conversation and can adapt to it more easily, while men tend to exert pressure and compete with each other. Women’s ability to find the best and mutually agreeable solution is their greatest advantage. How do you balance personal & professional life? What compromises do you have to do? A woman has to be constantly looking for the right balance between her professional responsibilities and her family duties. The family support is crucial for me. However, I believe that a family should consist of two partners, both successful in their own careers. Thus, they would both respect each other’s achievements and their life together would be much easier. I think that my 16-year-old son understands and appreciates what I do. Recently, he shared with some family friends that he wanted to follow the same path as I had in the future. The children of successful people are motivated as they see that their parents’ efforts bring results. Also, they have the ambition to pursue better education. Honestly, I cannot say I need to make any significant compromises. My family life is organised in such a way that each family member can manage his own tasks and together we can enjoy our free time together. People tend to pity businesswomen because of the common belief that such women have to sacrifice their personal lives, and are somehow forced to do their jobs. I strongly disagree with this opinion because every woman is able to consciously make her choices. How do you manage the important things in your personal life? Time management from business helps me a lot. My time is limited, I have to find the most efficient way to fit in everything, and usually it works. Of course, there are those moments when I need to get away and recharge. In such cases I take a trip with my family and completely cut-off thoughts of work. In your opinion and according to your experience, is there inequality when a woman and a man compete for a same position? I am happy to say that I have not encountered any inequality between men and women in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian women have always worked along with men. When a male and a female candidate compete for the same position, the one who gets the job is usually the better prepared and more suitable one. There are a lot of women on top management positions in Bulgaria, much more than there are in the West European countries. Our foreign business partners are often surprised by this fact. What is your motivation at this position? What do you like most in your job? Challenges motivate me. For example, in Bulgaria we have to make a lot of efforts to keep our position of market leader as our competitors catch up quickly. At the same time, there are many countries in the Balkan region, which have still undeveloped markets and we can start the business from scratch and grow there. I like the dynamic nature of my work. I enjoy the rights delegated to me. In the past, when I had a good idea, it would take a long time to push it through all levels and to finally get green light. And the consequences usually were the missing of the right moment. Indesit is the kind of company that gives the freedom to act, as long as it sees results. This is a great responsibility but I am not afraid of it. I like it. What is your message to the businesswomen? Being a successful business leader and a woman is not an impossible compromise, not at all. When a woman finds the desired career, she will certainly find the right balance between professional and private life. Yes, it takes a lot of efforts, but it is not impossible. www.humanvalue.eu9
  13. 13. Anelia Dinova Managing Partner Lawyer Agency “Dinova & Rusev” Sector: Jurisdiction Services “Be a woman no matter what!“ Anelia Dinova for Human Value International Would you present yourself in a professional way? Would you present in short your company? I am the head of the law firm Dinova & Rusev. The Law Office started its operations in 2003 under the umbrella brand name of PI Partners: the brand name indicated Law Office’s operational integration with other law firms in South-East Europe: Thessaloniki, Sofia, Bucharest and Istanbul. All of the law firms using the PI Partners brand name have operated in association with Ernst & Young. Since 1 April 2009 the use of the PI Partners brand and the Ernst & Young association has terminated. The Law Office has continued to operate as an independent law firm in close cooperation with the ex-PI Partners law firm in Greece, who also acts, since 1 April 2009, as an independent law firm. Currently, the Law Office employs as permanent staff 10 lawyers and our aspiration is to increase this number significantly in the upcoming months. We continue to adhere to the high professional standards of international advisory companies that our origin has been embedded in. The experience and market recognitionthatwehavegainedsinceourestablishment in 2003 helped us preserve and enlarge our client base. We continue to assist large regional investors (e.g. S&B Industrial Minerals, Alpha Bank, Sisecam, Assos Capital, Grekotel) in some of the landmark investments in Bulgarian during the past couple of years. At the same time, we have been successful in developing a high- profile local (i.e. non-regional) client base that includes companies like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kloeckner & Co. GmbH, Martinsa Fadesa, ENKA Technik. I am very proud with our team. My colleagues are remarkable examples of Bulgarian professionals (most of them have either international diplomas or professional experience abroad) who combine technical knowledge with business awareness. It gives me both professional and personal fulfillment to observe their professional growth and maturity. I dare say that the professional environment which we have created in the law office is akin to the best practices beyond our geographical area. Would you tell us about your career? I owe my personal professional development to a company that unfortunately does not exist anymore: Andersen US. I started with Andersen 15 years ago when the words “auditor”, “tax consultant”, “business lawyer” meant a little or nothing at all to almost all of us here. From the very start of my days at work I have been lucky to find myself in an international environment where people were treated as assets, where success and promotion were dependent on the individual’s qualities, strive for improvement, quest for knowledge and development. www.humanvalue.eu10
  14. 14. During the over 16 years of my professional career I have worked in St. Petersbourg (head of the then- Andersen Legal operations) and Bratislava (head of the branch office of the Czech Law Firm Weinhold Legal). I have had the privilege to partake in the set up and development of law offices. I gladly embarked on the opportunity that Ernst & Young presented to me in 2002- 2003: to return home and lay the foundations of the Bulgarian operations of PI Partners. Thanks to the people that I had worked with, this opportunity has developed and yielded its positive business results. It is only due to regulatory and legal constrains aimed at limiting joint consultancy products between auditors and lawyers that we have, in the first half of the last year, decided to terminate the association and pursue an independent law firm’s status. I started with Andersen as an Assistant (the starting professional grade in the corporate hierarchy) in 1993; I became an International Partner with PI Partners and Ernst & Young in 2005. I am the Founding Partner of Dinova & Rusev Law Office and I continue to act as its Managing Partner up to date. I have no other recipe for professional success than “Work, persistency and more work”. However, a non-disposable ingredient to it all is “Believe in what you are doing and enjoy it”. Otherwise the meal gets sour. What sort of challenges a woman at a top management position encounters? Fighting with perception and prejudice is the main disadvantage. Fulfillment and the opportunity to constantly re-confirm one’s stance is the main advantage. We all as a society nourish much higher expectationsfromaworkingwomanthanfromaworking man. Please note that I do not imply sexism of any kind in this statement. My rationale is objective and legacy related. Consider the evolution of the human society as a whole: from the very outset of mankind the females have been entrusted with the responsibility for home, birth and family while the males have marched the land in pursuit for food and territory, have laid the foundations of organizations and maintained the functioning of the society in all its multi-faceted dimensions. The last two centuries have introduced a profound change in that historical concept as regards the general rule (I am not talking about the exemptions of Queens, female scientists and revolutionaries whom we all know about). But the legacy of our society cannot be dismissed. That is why today we expect that the average business woman would “satisfy” much more criteria than the average business man. The expectations flow from the three main components of the environment for each and every one of us: our work (being the society of our superiors and the society of our juniors), our outside circle (being the society of our outside-work professional colleagues, partners, clients and peers in the business) and our inside circle (being the society of our family and close friends). All these sub-societies expect from a female manager to be much more tolerant, much more multifunctional, and much more diplomatic than generally accepted for a male manager. How do you balance personal and professional life? What compromises do you have to do? I deeply trust that any human being and a woman in particular, cannot claim personal completeness unless they are fulfilled not only at work, but in one’s personal life, too. Work and family to me form the two feet on which every human being is by nature bound to walk; walking on two feet means completeness, thorough accomplishment of one’s being. And in order to do that, when you want to pursue a professional career, you firstly, have to be ready to give more than you may naturally be inclined to, and secondly, you have to find and keep a partner who appreciates what you do and gives you much in return. The successful combination of personal and professional life is impossible without such partner. There is a much exploited saying: “It takes two for tango”. Nowhere is this saying more true and appropriate that in the life of a professional woman with a family. And I cannot find words enough to voice-out my deep respect and gratitude to the male partners (including mine) who have been making this possible. Regarding to compromises: mine I do not remember, probably I have done some. But for his I will be thankful forever; I know that our family would not have survived otherwise. Everything one learns in communication courses and books is tripling applicable in the family of professionals. Nothing is there for granted and the more we remember that, the more success in our family relations we will experience. How do you manage the important things in your personal life? We talk, we talk a lot. And I mean not only during week-ends or holidays. I mean the permanent, day-by- day, minute-by-minute effort to ensure you are being understood, to provide explanations why you do what you do or why your voice is down or why you feel the way you do. Sharing of experiences, problems (even if he inhabits a totally different professional area), impressions; seeking advice or understanding about every tiny aspect of your out-of-the-family existence strengthens the links between you and your partner, making your couple a unit. Unless you put efforts in building and maintaining this connection, you will not be able to rely on his understanding should you need to call half an hour before an appointment in order to cancel it. Like I did just a couple of days ago, it was family dinner; I had to cancel it because my daily plan got destroyed by a personnel issue at the office. And you know what my son said after I called him with the bad news: “Do not worry, I will see with Dad if we can make it for lunch tomorrow”. Be sure: I did make it for lunch the next day. www.humanvalue.eu11
  15. 15. The need for requesting your loved ones to make compromises exists, no matter how much you try to prevent it. When you are dedicated to your work you are always facing the risk of the urgency, the force majeure that cannot be foreseen. Work connected with managing people, clients or projects is very time- consuming and hides unexpected circumstances. Thus, it is very important that my family understands my dedication to my work and supports me in finding alternatives which are not to the detriment of either aspect of our life. The dinner-lunch story is a typical example of such a compromise. In your opinion and according to your experience, is there inequality when a woman and a man compete for a same position? Generally, there is not an up-front benefit for the woman. It may depend on the environment this takes place in; many international companies nowadays strategically maintain certain male to female ratios; if our woman ‘hits the right moment’ she might have a relative advantage from that perspective. But again ‘relative’ is very important to stress on. The paradigm that if you are a beautiful woman you can achieve everything in your career one way or another does not hold true anymore. Not in the professional world. What is your motivation at this position? What do you like most in your job? I love my job. I love watching the people that I work with grow up professionally in front of my eyes – take more responsibilities and work on more complex assignments. The success of my clients also brings me professional satisfaction which is doubled when the client recognizes the contribution to the project that our team has made. Motivation is a complex phenomenon and this is more true nowadays than a couple of decades ago. It has subjective aspects (what I want to do) and objective aspects (how I am placed to do it in the specific environment). Remuneration is very important but it cannot, in the long run, sustain professional motivation alone. Most of us work to live, we don’t live to work. Therefore, I am constantly aware of the fact that motivation is not endless and self-infusing. It is our job – the managers’ - to monitor how it changes in people, what environment related components meet people’s expectations and what do not meet them; how our people change and what effects these changes have on their motivation. I believe that the fact that we, Bulgarians, do not want to share our views, problems and seek advice or assistance forms the biggest challenge for the managers. Often in Bulgaria a valuable employee is not happy, he/she does not like or agree with some aspect of his/her work, but he or she would not voice out the concerns. Dialogue is not sought, often even rejected when offered. He or she would prefer to just leave. This is the way we think. Developing an atmosphere of trust and dialogue without jumping into familiarity, seeking solutions of problems in the workplace by virtue of communication and mutual efforts is a serious challenge. This is true more than ever now, when good professionals have more opportunities in Bulgaria and abroad. What is your message to the businesswomen? Don’t give up on yourselves. Don’t change under the pressure of success and do not give in to perceptions. And stay women - for the good and the bad... www.humanvalue.eu12
  16. 16. Anita Blajevska Executive Director Studio Moderna Sector: Direct Marketing “Nobody should expect someone else to arrange his life!“ Anita Blajevska for Human Value International Wouldyoupresentyourselfinaprofessionalperspective? Would you present your organization in summary? Studio Moderna is an international company, it has been on the Bulgarian market for more than 13 years. Studio Moderna Group International has been operating for more than 15 years in CEE. Our approach is through direct marketing and sales. In Bulgaria we are known mostly for our product Kosmodisk, which happens to be in almost every home. Then we developed TOP SHOP with different and interesting products. The third group of products is the brand for mattresses and sleep accessories Dormeo, which has been on the market for three years. This year has been extremely successful for us. We use direct marketing approach – something people were not familiar on the East markets with two or three years ago. But all the big international companies use it now. We are expanding in times of crisis. For example, our personnel were 100 people last year, and it will be 170 people at the end of this year. We are selling through different channels like: TV, magazines, Internet, our shops TOP SHOP. Also we are developing a chain of Dormeo shops and our partnership with the big chains is very significant, wholesale is one of our activities. Kosmodisk is on sale at the Pharmacies, Dormeo is on sale at the furniture retail chains. TOP SHOP is on sale in all the other chains – Baumax and Kaufland, for example. Our Dormeo pillows are having an auction at Kaufland right now, and this way we are going to sell a lot of them. As sales experts, we are constantly looking for innovative ideas and we are beginning to put various combinations into practice. We are a Marketing Agency as well, we apply marketing the best way, and this is possible only with the proper employees, trainings and IT solutions. Would you tell us about your career? My career path is very interesting. I am a painter by education, and my first job was as a Costume Designer at the National Television in Macedonia. At that period private companies were just starting to come out and they all needed advertisement to build their image. It is happened that I changed my profession and started dealing with marketing, without realizing it. For some time I was Marketing Director at the National Television in Skopie. I have been in Studio Moderna since 2003. I was Country Manager for Latvia three years, and now I am Country Manager for Bulgaria. People are joking that it would be a good idea for me to come back to Macedonia, because when I go to work in a particular country, it joins the European Union a few months after that. I really like Bulgaria, because the mentality suits me. It is a geographically wonderful country – there are gorgeous mountains and sea here, along with archeological and historical places. I prefer to live here. www.humanvalue.eu13
  17. 17. What sort of challenges a woman at a top management position encounters? I am an ambitious person and ambition is my driving force and challenge. My experience in Macedonia, Slovenia, Latvia and Bulgaria has proven that when people speak foreign languages, the borders become invisible. I strive to move forward, because there are challenges all the way. In my first job as a Designer the challenge was to justify the people’s hopes in me and to try to help the whole team to make one product. The challenge was to draw the maximum out of each situation, which I succeeded in, in spite of the fact that there are always limitations during teamwork. Even now I am often at the situation of being a part of the team and working side by side with them, no matter that I am their Manager. My goal has always been to support my people, not considering my position. I can claim that pursuing different goals they lead to different challenges – at the moment the biggest challenge for me is to put together the best puzzle, which would be able to satisfy my managers, me and my team. How do you balance personal and professional life? What compromises you need to do? I am 45 years old and I consider myself to be a successful woman. I have been lucky to get married and give birth to my first child when I was 21, while I was still at the university. I was committed to both my family and work for 10 years. When my children grew up, I had the opportunity to commit more to my ambitions and work. My family and my career are very important parts of my life. I am grateful for my family’s support, because if the ambitious woman is misunderstood by her family all the time, she will not be happy neither at home, nor at work. My children are grown-up now and I out 80% of my efforts into my job. I advise the ambitious women to have children while they are young. I have always made compromises and I will always need to make such. One must measure one’s priorities – which are more important in a particular period. I measure them with help from my intuition; intuition in my opinion has been given to women by God. One is able to build a good intuition with tests – based on the results one must make conclusions. There are various solutions for everything, and these solutions must be grouped and separated. How do you manage the important things of your personal life? The most important thing for me is health in general and I wish it to everyone. This is my first rule at home and at work. One does not have to break down emotionally, one has to control one’s emotions, so they wouldn’t be too positive or too negative. This is my basic rule. Is there inequality when a woman and a man compete for a same position? I have been present to situations like this. I have not been a participant, but I have these examples. Things, however, changed a lot with the New System in Eastern Europe, when the most important thing was the profit. This balanced the recruitment and made the possible contribution to the profit of the company most important. There might be something left from the past, but it will be vanishing, because profit is the leading motivator in business. I do not believe that women have a certain priority over men. In our company the result and the potential of the employee are most important. Each candidate has equal chance. When we recruit new people, we test them, and after that we train them. Results are most important here, not being a woman or a man. What is your drive? What do you like most in your profession? Happy people motivate me. I am glad to see happy faces after finishing a major project. The success of my colleagues is a motivator for me. Their adrenaline makes me very happy. WhatIlikeinmyworkisthatitisaninterestingcombination of art, media and sales. I am very pleased with our success to turn sales into art in Bulgaria. Какво е Вашето послание към жените, ориентирани към кариера в бизнеса? As a result of the New System, young girls become more and more ambitious and I like that. No one should wait for another to build his life up. We need to remember that our mothers and grandmothers have not had the opportunities we have. I enjoy young ladies with ambition, but I still think that they must not forget that after all, they are women. www.humanvalue.eu14
  18. 18. Bistra Ilkova Chairwoman of the Board of Directors Aval In Sector: Financial services – Investment man- agement “Having a career is important, but it’s far from being the most important thing!“ Bistra Ilkova for Human Value International Wouldyoupresentyourselfinaprofessionalperspective? Would you present your organization in summary? Currently I am the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors at AVAL IN AD, as well as a Chairwoman of the Board of Directors at Bulgarian Agency for Export Insurance (BAEI). AVAL IN is a company created by me, and is licensed by the Commission for Financial Inspection of Deals with Financial Instruments. Since 1997 the company has always been present at the funds market and is specialized in investment banking in Bulgaria and abroad. The company is also a member of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, Central Depository and Bulgarian Association of Licenses Investment Brokers. It is serving 25 000 clients – Bulgarian and foreign ones. I have been in BAEI since 2001. This is a very important state agency, specialized in supporting Bulgarian business, insuring its activities from market and non- market risks. All major Bulgarian banks and companies are clients of this agency. Would you tell us about your career ladder? Your starting point and the path to the top? I started in 1980 as an administrative secretary at Branch No 3 of the Bulgarian National Bank. The first 16 years of my career passed in the banking system. BNB was, among other things, a great school for me; I have acquired great knowledge, skills and experience there; I have met wonderful people in the face of my colleagues, who supported me in my grow from the lowest position of an administrative secretary through the positions in accounting, credit administration and so forth. After BNB I have taken management positions in Mineral Bank, Balkan Bank; my last job in the banking system was the Head of Crediting Department at Post Bank. www.humanvalue.eu15
  19. 19. In 1994 I moved to the non-banking financial sector and the capital markets. In 1997 I started Aval Ins, an investment intermediary firm, so I can say now that I have been on the market from the first day of BSE’s existence. Initially I was working with BSE as a member, then in 2001 I became a member of its Management Board. For a short period I have been the Chairman of the State Securities Commission, the last one, for a few months before it ceased to exist and merged into the Financial Supervisory Commission, which was designed to combine the supervisory functions for capital markets, insurance and social and life assurance. Between 2003 and 2006 I was the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors at the Bulgarian Stock Exchange and staring from 2006 until January 2010 I was its Executive Director. In 2006 I received the prize Ms. Economics for contributing in the development of the non-banking financial sector. In 2007, when I was managing the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, it received the price Mrs. Economics in the highest category – complete contribution to the development of the national economy. What sort of challenges a woman at a top management position encounters? Certainly not different to the challenges any top manager encounters. I think the key here is to build up a team of good professionals who function well together, create a good organization, and look for effective feedback, for best solutions. For my job in particular, there are plenty of challenges, starting from fine-tuning the regulative framework and its implementation; the company’s development, running everyday tasks, contacts with various organizations. Have you ever encountered particular difficulties because of being a woman? Absolutely not. It is true that there are few women on similar positions internationally, 7 or 8 in the whole world, if I’m not mistaken. However I have never had any particular hardships. Maybe this is due to the fact that having started from the lowest level, there are few things that can surprise me now. How do you balance personal and professional life? What compromises you need to do? Honestly, I do not feel like I need to do enormous compromises, things have developed more or less in harmony. I am married, have a daughter, who graduated from a University in the USA, got married, lives and works there and despite my desire that she returns to Bulgaria it is not her intention to do so, at least for now. Going back in time, it was in fact much more difficult in the past, before I reached management levels. Both me and my husband come from Velingrad, so immediately after our graduation in order to fulfill our dreams for professional actualization in the capital, we had to fight for the right to remain in Sofia in the first place, something that now sounds ridiculous, but in the period prior to changes it was the reality. We both had to travel often, to prove ourselves, to devote every minute to our jobs and our companies. Now I feel more mature, and things seem to happen with less effort. What are the important things in your life and how do you manage those? There are many important things in my life, first of all come the moral values like honesty, decency, loyalty to the family, to the business, to the partners. In this regard no compromise is acceptable. In personal plan nothing is more important than health; one should take a good care of one’s health. How do you observe, is there inequality when a woman and a man compete for same position? How women position in the Bulgarian labour market nowadays? I do not think there is a gender inequality. What matters are the candidate’s qualities, what his/her CV and recommendations say. Here I would like to mention that there is a sort of crisis in professionalism in the sense that theprofessionaldevelopmentintermsofprofessionalskills and know-how accumulation is somehow neglected. I understand the young people’s desire to earn more money as soon as possible, but they should understand that career growth requires also being professional, loyal, tolerant, ambitious. www.humanvalue.eu16
  20. 20. What is your drive? What do you like most in your profession? The job itself motivates me. I do not know if I could do anything else if I had to. I like everything about my job, its being so interesting and having so many aspects. In fact there is one other thing I may do. Perhaps one day, after my retirement, I will go back to Velingrad, the most wonderful place in the world, and will start running a small family hotel. What message would you announce to the working women? I would like to remind them that their careers are important, but certainly not everything. It is important to find the right balance between private and professional life. Can you thing of an interesting story you would like to share with our readers? There was one funny situation which happened when I was working for BNB. Branch 3 was situated in Vazrajdane Square. It had a big money vault and every day huge loads of money where brought to its vaults, it was counted with machines, and then the second count had to be done manually. That is why every day the bank should close at 2 p.m., the building should be locked and all employees, no matter what their job was, should descend in the vaults to count money. One day there was a huge storm, with heavy rain, hail, etc. The area was flooded and so was the vault and the money stored in it. So, every day for a whole month after the flooding we had to dry banknotes in the vaults using some simple heaters. Later this manual counting ceased as new machines were bought for both first and second counting. www.humanvalue.eu17
  21. 21. Vesela Barbukova Partner Aspekti Sector: Real Estate “Believe in what you want and follow your dreams, even if they are not very profitable!“ Vesela Barbukova for Human Value International Wouldyoupresentyourselfinaprofessionalperspective? Would you present your organization in summary? Aspecti Development and Investment Group combines several companies which are specialized in different activities of the construction process. The company is specialized in residential building and we development of middle to high class residential products. Buildings are located mainly on the territory of Sofia city as well as some other hot spots on the real estate market in Bulgaria. In 1996 I created Aspecti with area of activity in mediation for real estate deals and two years later, the activity was gradually oriented to investment and development of residential and administration buildings and management of real estate. We recorded in our business biography 56 invested, developed, and opened objects with built-up area of more than 413 000 m2 in the last 14 years. We have gained the trust of 5175 clients and more than 21 600 people live in our buildings. In 2005 the stages of the construction process were separated from the organizational point of view so that we could specialize better in each of the building activities. There is an investor company in the group’s organizational structure that chooses the projects and decides their trade fate; company that deals with the architecture design and construction design; several subcontractor building companies, and a company that deals with the management of the ready buildings. With respect to the current crisis on the real estate market, Aspecti’s strategy now is to head to the luxury residences’ development that will be possessed and managed by one of our daughter companies. Would you tell us about your career ladder? Your starting point and the path to the top? I graduated from the University of National and World economy, Finance and Credit specialty in 1993. It was a dynamic time of changes. All of us had to build a new way of thinking and promptly adapt to the fast paced economic changes. I started working as an Accountant and I gained experience in electronic accountancy in a short time. It was a valuable experience at the time – 5% of the companies were hardly using electronic accountancy. Later I applied for a job at my husband’s company and joined it with the mission to implement electronic accountancy there. My work in this team was an extraordinary chance for me to gain experience in accountancy at the construction business unit together with almost all economical branches. This experience came up to be precious. In 1996 I created my own real estate agency Aspecti which I gradually developed to the level of the development and investment group it is today. www.humanvalue.eu18
  22. 22. I am an economist but I have chosen this business field because it contains philosophy of constructing and building something and wonderful opportunity to leave something after you. My ambition has always been to create qualified buildings in a well-settled and organized infrastructure and thus contribute for the development of a new culture of living and style of life. What sort of challenges a woman at a top management position encounters? Men are more impulsive in their actions, they easily handle the risk and work on multiple tasks simultaneously. However, they lack precision, pragmatism and sense of reality, as well as a stable position in life, which women possess. In business the gender in not important for many years already – it is whether you’re a good professional and player, or not. There’s no need in proving this. Challenges in construction business are great due to the fact, that despite our everyday responsibilities, there’s also a factor that building we construct become an integral part of our life and culture. This is why I always try to put something more into a building, make them more attractive and functional, create a character, idea and style. How do you balance personal and professional life? What compromises you need to do? If a manager on leading position, or anyone with his own business is claiming, that he successfully balances between his personal and professional life, he’s not being completely honest. One thing always comes on the price of another. Professional development requires an extreme amount of time and stress – a complete dedication. You have to be in the loop 24/7. You can just take a vacation from your responsibilities. In this sense I personally do not manage to balance – I owe my family, friends and even myself. Luckily, the relationship with my husband doesn’t suffer from it, because he is also managing a part of the company and completely understands me. The biggest comprise I’ve made for this is the fact that my children don’t live with us, because they study abroad and I’m unable to always be with them. This is a real sacrifice. What is your drive? What do you like most in your profession? I enjoy creativity and creation of something new. There are two important stages in every process of development and completion of a project. One of them is when we discuss with the team of architects the functionality and structure of a building in every detail. This is a crucial moment because you create a face and a function of a project and you need to consider every available organizational, material, financial and other condition. The success of a project and its ROI entirely depends on correct planning. Second important moment is finalization work. You can’t make drastic changes here, only give a specific appearance to a building, or as I like to joke, to apply a make-up to a building. Whatisyourviewofthecurrentsituationandperspectives the construction business is currently facing? Crisis this field is currently suffering from isn’t surprising for any of the professionals in this business. The first signals about it actually came a year and a half before. I think that this crisis is like a bitter pill this sector needs in order to return its strong and realistic positions. It is true that construction business is currently suffering a lot. To realize one project nowadays is a very difficult task and you need to have good experience and rational behavior to be able to deal with hard crisis conditions. First of all I expect normalization of conditions and coming out of the stress. Before the spring of 2010 I don’t expect any positive change indications. Crisis right now is ruthless and only few will survive. So called greenfields will not sell at all, and those under construction will be very difficult to sell. Areas with bad infrastructure, even with good location, like Monastirski Livadi for instance, will not sell. People will buy only the property on top-places, with finished infrastructure and with small density of apartments. Companies like ours with risk diversification will survive. The important factors will be the location and category of a building, as well as the reliability of a company. Unfortunately, I don’t expect good news regarding foreign investments into Bulgarian real estate. The year of 2010 will be the year of survival. Those who will survive the competition will be stronger than ever after this – with completed projects, good fields, minimal competition and lots of training in the situations of crisis. What message would you announce to the working women? They should believe in what they want and should persistently follow their dreams even if their dream activity is not necessarily the most profitable one. People can be contented and successful in their professions only when that’s truly something they enjoy doing. www.humanvalue.eu19
  23. 23. Vesela Borislavova Deputy Director Rollplast Sector: Production of windows, doors and facades “Family and career – solution of the problem is reachable“ Vesela Borislavova for Human Value International Would you present yourself in a professional way? Would you present in short your company? I am the Deputy General Manager of Rollplast. I have been working at the company since 2001. I manage the business processes, the daily communication with clients, suppliers and financial institutions. I am involved in the development and execution of the business plan of the company. Rollplast was registered in 2000. The company’s activity was manufacturing and installation of inner and outer blinds. Later we started to manufacture doors and windows from aluminum and PVC. We have been a leader in the field of the manufacturers of doors, windows and blinds for the past four years. We have ambition to stay on top and to expand our market share. We cover the whole country through our distributors and partners. Our strive is to expand our network to foreign markets. We opened a warehouse in Macedonia last year. Expansion in Serbia and Romania has been planned for this year. We opened a new production base in Konstinbrod in 2009, and we received an award for it – ‘Investor of the year’. It is very hard to make investments during the Crisis, so we are very proud with out investment. The success of Rollplast is due to the qualified personnel and experienced management, the quality of the products, the short terms for manufacturing and installation, and the post-guarantee service. Would you tell us about your career? I have a diploma for Master of Information Technologies from The University of National and World Economy. My second subject was Accountancy and Controlling. After graduation, I started working as an Operative Accountant in the fast-food restaurant Mis Kapriz. After that, I worked in BTC for two years. I started my work in Rollplast in 2001 as a Financial Director, and I have been the Deputy General Manager for four years. www.humanvalue.eu20
  24. 24. What sort of challenges a woman at a top management position encounters? No matter what the position is, a woman encounters the same challenges - to find the balance between the family and the career; to deal with the major and minor problems. One can do everything with optimism, constructivism and positive thinking. How do you balance personal & professional life? What compromises do you have to do? It is very hard to find the balance. I think that one needs stable support from one’s family when building up a career. One needs to make compromises all the time. These compromises are regarding the attention you give to your family. In a professional perspective, you should never make compromises that would cause a problem, because a manager is responsible for a lot of people, who have families, too. How do you manage the important things in your personal life? My family is the most important thing in my life. When there is a problem in the family, I do my best to solve it, and it has the highest priority. In your opinion and according to your experience, is there inequality when a woman and a man compete for a same position? I do not think that there is inequality. I do not think that there are people who still separate men and women in a professional way. Many of the employees in Rollplast are women, even at the manufacturing. When I have applied for positions, I have never felt discriminated for being a woman. In our company the gender has never been important at the job applicants. We have always valued the personal characteristics and the professional skills. What is your motivation at this position? What do you like most in your job? Challenges are my motivation. Every day reveals new challenges. Surviving the Crisis in 2010 is a challenge for me. I hope the situation wouldn’t be worse than it was in 2009. It is important for me to make the employees smile every day at work, which has been easy until now, but will be a challenge from now on. I like everything in my profession. I like the fact that it is a Bulgarian company, and thus everything we have achieved has been discovered by the method of trial and error. The know-how of the foreign companies is given by the headquarters, and in our company each one of us generates ideas, which are being realized. It is very satisfactory for me to see the results from my efforts. What is your message to the businesswomen? Mymessagetothebusinesswomenistobuildupacareer, because they are more ambitious that the men, they are more tactful, they have sixth sense and a different approach to the situations. My message to them is never to let the dilemma ‘to have a family or a successful career’ stop them, because it is possible to have both! www.humanvalue.eu21
  25. 25. Vesela Ilieva Executive Director Unique Estates Sector: Luxurious Real Estate “Be strong and confident!“ Vesela Ilieva for Human Value International Would you present yourself in a professional way? Would you present in short your company? I have a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media Economics and Master’s in “Marketing and Advertisement” from the University for National and World Economy, Sofia City. I also have a Master’s Degree in “Corporate Real Estate, Finance and Strategy” from CITY University London. I am a certified expert of the Bulgarian National Real Estate Association and a member of the Royal Institute of Certified Specialists, RICS. Ever since I began my professional development, I have been working in the real estate business. Today I have more than 10 years experience in the field. In 2006, we established the first Bulgarian company specialized in complete services for agencies and management of luxurious properties – Unique Estates Luxury Properties. A year ago, after tough negotiations, the company that I conduct became a member of Christie’s Great Estates which is the biggest worldwide network of real estate agents. They sell some of the most luxurious properties in the world. The only country in Eastern Europe they have an office in is Bulgaria, and we are very proud of that. We were working on this project for two years trying to persuade Christie’s that there are appreciators of luxury in Bulgaria and that Christie’s network has a place here. Besides, Unique Estates is a part of the biggest real estate holding, AG Capital. It consists of 15 companies dealing with various segments of the real estate business. Unique Estates is the luxurious brand of the holding. In fact we provide services to VIP clients of the holding. What is special about our company is that we seek only exquisite and luxurious estates. Our approach is individual and customized. Our attitude towards our clients is also unique. Thus, every single client receives a special service. We have more than 15 qualified consultants. Most of them have more than five years experience in the real estate business. Some of them even have international experience and have worked in Dubai, the USA, etc. Each person of our team brings different life experience and interests, and this is how we can provide our clients with special consulting service. Our office is in Kempinsky Hotel, Sofia City. This is done on purpose because this way, our clients feel more relaxed since they do not visit a regular office. We have more than 360 unique luxurious properties in our portfolio in prestigious locations in Sofia and countrywide. www.humanvalue.eu22
  26. 26. Would you tell us about your career? I started as a real estate agent for Address. I moved through all the levels up to a Manager, Regional Director in Sofia, and Development Director for Western Bulgaria. I have been responsible for Sofia, Plovdid, Blagoevgrad, Bansko, Pleven, and other territories. Later I got my Master’s degree, and when I came back from London, I was offered to manage a new company, so I have been working for Unique Estates since the very beginning. I spent four of my ten-year experience in the real estate business working for AG Capital on a managerial position and being responsible for the development and execution of plans. Development includes new areas and offices, as well as new business sectors/trade sites. For two years now, I have been the Managing Director of the luxurious real estate company Unique Estates. What sort of challenges a woman at a top management position encounters? In certain professions, women are more and more predominant. This is especially true for the real estate business. In this field, women are often more successful than men because of their ability to listen to people. Women possess many qualities which men do nоt. They are much more patient than men are, and this is very important in business. Women are better team players because they are more empathetic and are able to create a sense of belonging. Female intuition is significant because we can forestall things. Also, I think that women are more adaptable and they easily cope with failure and change. Unlike men, women can multitask. They organize their day and their tasks better. They better cope with stress and are more patient with their interlocutors. The disadvantage is that we put a lot of emotions in everything we do. Of course, this is a positive side sometimes. Как балансирате между професионалния и личния си живот? Какви компромиси се налага да правите? I like my work a lot and I do it with pleasure. It does not interfere with my private life. I am a very communicative person as a whole. My work allows me to meet new people that complement my personality. I combine my work with my spare time very well. Of course, there are many stressful moments. We also do not have fixed working time because we take into consideration our clients’ time schedule. However, this is not a problem for my personal life. When one is on duty, one works, when one is off from work – one has an active relax time. My family members all are very active persons so I face full understanding. My Master Degree in London was a big challenge for me. I had to leave my personal life in Bulgaria and the work I loved as to go to a new place and study again. However, I made the compromise in favor of my professional development and the feeling for something new. There are other situations when I might do the opposite. There should always be a balance between the two: personal and work life. After all, we are women, and our private life is very important. In your opinion and according to your experience, is there inequality when a woman and a man compete for a same position? It depends on the position they are competing for and with whom and about what they are competing. Being a woman definitely helps. Women control their emotions better and are more diplomatic than men. My experience comes to show that women are also very ambitious and combinative in nature. Especially in the real estate business, women are more successful because they have the right approach to the clients.Moreover,mostofourclientsarewomenbecause they usually are the ones to choose the property. And they prefer to communicate with women. What is your motivation at this position? What do you like most in your job? My work is very dynamic, and I have to travel a lot abroad and across Bulgaria. Every day, I get the chance to meet new and different people and this always energizes me. I do not consider meetings with clients and partners as an obligation. Every meeting is a new experience and a new challenge. Maybe these are the two major things that I love about my work. What is your message to the businesswomen? Be strong and confident, courageously strive for your goals, and smile. www.humanvalue.eu23
  27. 27. Daniela Petkova General Executive Director POC Doverie Sector: Financial services – Asset manage- ment (PO) “Don’t be afraid to be yourself!“ Daniela Petkova for Human Value International Wouldyoupresentyourselfinaprofessionalperspective? Would you present your organization in summary? Since 2000 I have been appointed the CEO of DOVERIE pension assurance company. I have been with the company since the year of its incorporation. DOVERIE is the pension assurance company of TBI Group. It was established in 1994 as a green-field project and its success motivated the shareholders to expand the business to other areas. Thus TBI Group was formed, which today offers the full range of financial non-banking services. Would you tell us about your career ladder? Your starting point and the path to the top? In the dawn of democracy, 1989, I took a decision to develop private business. A year later I left the country for personal reasons, to come back again in 1991-92. Then I started my private accounting and finance consulting firm, which, I would say, went rather successfully. However, in 1994 I faced a new challenge, i.e. “DOVERIE” project. After I won a difficult selection process organized by a top consulting firm, I had the chance to become part of that project. Back then little was known in Bulgaria of the pension insurance business and its huge potentials. To me it was the one- time opportunity to explore something completely new, which made me put aside my consulting business. My entry in DOVERIE was at the position of Chief Accountant. Three years later I was promoted to the position of the Chief Financial Officer and in 2000 I stepped into my current position of CEO. I am proud of the fact that no other but DOVERIE was the pilot project, the success of which initiated the formation of the Group, and I was part of it. Today as the CEO of DOVERIE I am particularly happy that the Company grew into the biggest pension fund in Bulgaria. When I stepped into the CEO position the company had near 100000 clients and assets under management of approximately 10 million. Today’s numbers show a client base of more than 1 300 thousand and assets under management of more than 1 milliard. At DOVERIE we prefer to view at our achievements as the result of the efforts of the whole team, rather than a single person’s. www.humanvalue.eu24
  28. 28. Then of course a large portion of this extraordinary growth is due to the unique opportunity, created with the legislative changes which gave birth to the compulsory additional pension assurance followed by our initial positioning on this new market space among the key players. In fact before taking the CEO position I had left the country again for a while, and it was exactly the anticipation of this unique market opportunity what made me come back and accept to lead DOVERIE, attracted by the rare opportunity rather than by the position itself. What sort of challenges a woman at a top management position encounters? The professional challenges a manager encounter are the same for both genders. Both men and women on managerial positions face the same challenges and it is all about the personal choice of the price, as a compromise with their personal life, everyone who has headed on management is ready to pay. How do you balance personal & professional life? What compromises you have to make? In order to be good at something, one needs to concentrate completely on it. I think the search for balance at any moment in life of more than one to commit to is pointless. However the right balance can be reached from the point of view of a longer period of one’s life. As to me, during the time when my son was growing my career was put aside and I had devoted to him all my time and attention. Later when he became more independent it was time for me to concentrate on my career. The greatest compromise I had to make was the choice in which country to live and work. I left the comfort of life I had outside Bulgaria and came back as to participate in “DOVERIE” project. How do you carry on the important parts of your private life? In fact the things to do are always much more than I can practically handle. I have learned to filter what is most important and give it the priority. How do you observe, is there inequality when a woman and a man compete for a same position? How women position in the Bulgarian labour market nowadays? At DOVERIE, absolutely not. To be honest, there are certain positions more suitable for males or females. However any gender discrimination in terms of professional development opportunities is not acceptable. At DOVERIE we have many candidates for a vacancy, both males and females, and during the phases of the recruitment process all of them, naturally try to show their best. I have noticed that a common mistake the candidates make is to over-play. In this sense sometimes men interviewed by women tend to over-play more or act over-relaxed, because they underestimated the interviewer. Our practice is to have at least three persons in the interviewing commission, both men and women, so the gender is excluded as a selection factor. We look for the right professional skills and personal qualities to fit well in the team. What is your drive? What do you like most in your profession? There are several driving forces, which shaped my achievements including professional ones. The first one that is really important for me is striving for excellence: whatever one does, one should always try to be the best and make all the efforts. The second one is constant learning and improvement. I have always derived satisfaction from adding knowledge, new skills and more value to what I do. The motivating strength of seeing the results comes next. More significant the results are more motivated I am. Last but not least, I have been often called a workaholic. I believe hard work is one of the necessary prerequisites for success. On the other hand, I hate the routine and lack of creativity. If I feel that I have reached a point from which on I cannot further develop or otherwise improve the project I work on I would rather move on to something else than do the same everyday. What I like at this position that it gives me more opportunities to actualize my ideas and see the results. I always put the best of me in the effort to achieve satisfying results. What message would you announce to the working women? “Keep going! And not be afraid to be yourself!” www.humanvalue.eu25
  29. 29. Joanna Dimitrova Director Directorate “Finances and Property Management” State Enterprise National Railway Infrastructure Company Head Office Sector: Transport “I’m motivated by the idea that some- thing has to be done the best way possible. Better than before…“ Joanna Dimitrova for Human Value International Would you present yourself in a professional way? Would you present in short your company? IamJoannaDimitrovaandIholdthepositionoftheDirector Directorate “Finances and Property Management”. The company that I work for is State Enterprise National Railway Infrastructure Company Head Office – a state company, completely owned by the Ministry of Transportation. NCRT is an operator which servers the complete railway infrastructure in Bulgaria, generates revenues from infrastructural fees and manages whole rehabilitation of railways, railway transportation as well as reaching maximum speed (currently about 160 km/h); as well as all activities concerning the management, development and support of railway infrastructure in Bulgaria. In the beginning of 2010 NCRT had around 15 490 employees and the company itself is one of the biggest in Bulgaria. I am directly responsible for the whole financial policy of the company: budgeting, calculating the income and expenses, managing of capital transfer, subsidiaries, financial policy as result of infrastructural fees, benefits and social policy, communication with syndicates, contracts and completion of contracts with external suppliers, as well as everything concerning operational management of processes and control over various decisions of the Board of Directors. And of course, management of the complete financial discipline as a result of financial crisis and shortage of liquid financial resources. Would you tell us about your career? My career path is very interesting because I started my professional development as a secretary – back when I was in the University I decided for myself that I must get a job in order to pay for my education and that’s how I started working in the Municipality. In 1993 in parallel I was working in the radio “Liani”. There was an economical bulletin regarding mass privatization and we were educating the listeners how to buy various shares. I was notices by the Mayor of the Municipality, I was invited on the interview and after this I received an offer to become an Administrative Assistant. After a year I was promoted to Administrative Questions Consultant, after this - Senior Specialist in GRAO, and finally Chief of GRAO. www.humanvalue.eu26
  30. 30. After I finished my education I decided to focus on major professional projects in my field – Corporate management, Planning and Finances. I transferred to private business and slowly climbed on career ladder – Junior Specialist, Senior Specialist, Manager, Senior Manager, Deputy Executive Director, Executive Director, Chief Executive Director with membership in several boards; until I was invited for the position Director Directorate “Finances and Property Management”. What sort of challenges a woman at a top management position encounters? For me the challenges are very exciting because it is not so important for me if a professional is a man or a woman, but it is important if a person is responsible towards his position and if he is fulfilling his obligations towards people who trusted him, and how the reached goals with reflect on the organization where this person is executing a certain function. In my opinion women are more emotional, direct in their actions, are guided by emotions, but I can say that for me it is not like this. A top position requires a much bigger responsibility, correct judgment, immediate decisions, as well as relying on experience from the past and present and correct analysis for the future. People must be guided correctly in order for them to make the correct decisions because otherwise it would lead to negative results which are always financial by nature, as well as losing market share, position, etc. Womenmustbeabitmorepractical,cleverandinvestall their efforts to be equal with men because unfortunately management is still more of a men’s priority. It is possible that women on all levels to be fewer than men but we don’t give up when it’s concerning top management. One professional is better than the other only due to his decisions and competency, and everything else is a question of willingness to win. How do you balance personal & professional life? What compromises do you have to do? I dare to say that I balance perfectly! I believe that if a person doesn’t develop well in personal life, he can’t develop well professionally because both come hand in hand. If you are not happy personally or with your family, even with your friends and people around you then you bring the negative aspects to your work and thus to your employees. We shouldn’t forget that we are different on the job and in the family, but both conditions are connected. I try not to make compromises, with myself before everything. From requirements towards myself I learned not to make compromises because it leads to more of them which always leads to problems. This chain reaction is like a boomerang that at a certain point reflects on my personally. If neglecting small mistake is a compromise then YES this happened before because we all make mistakes. How do you manage the important things in your personal life? The omportant things in my personal life are: my family to be happy, my little son to be healthy and able to enjoy the presence of his parents. Of course I try not to work too much at home or better said, I try to work when he is asleep not to leave him without attention. Since nobody likes to have a working person next to him at home I make everything possible to be available for my husband after 23H because the happiness of others is important for me. I don’t say that I always succeed in this but I try to manage. I enjoy everyday activities like cooking and cleaning because they’re pleasant and don’t bother me. www.humanvalue.eu27
  31. 31. In your opinion and according to your experience, is there inequality when a woman and a man compete for a same position? I personally haven’t encountered something like that. I believe that it depends on the person who is making the decision – only in this case we can talk about certain selective preferences. It’s all up to the personal beliefs. In all other cases I think that it all depends on how one person manages different questions and who is offering a better solution. What is your motivation at this position? What do you like most in your job? What motivates me is natural willingness to win. As an ex-badminton player I always try to be better as well as help others with my skills and knowledge. I’m motivated by the idea that something has to be done in the best way possible, better than before and one day it to reflect with a positive result. In short, I try to make best decision in the right moment and for it to be useful for everybody, who is working in the company. In my career I enjoy the most the ability to make the most optimal and suitable decision in every case. In my current job I like the challenge in optimizing many processes towards better efficiency, perfecting the performance of business units, development and implementing a better financial discipline as well as proving that state companies can also work well, with competence and to be structured in the most professional way. In personal life I am motivated by the ability to create better living conditions and education for my child as well as living comfort for the whole family. My aim is to make people around me happy and if they fill this way, than I consider myself a satisfied and succeeded person! What is your message to the businesswomen? Dear ladies, work hard and never underestimate yourselves! Always prove to yourself that you can do better. Also never forget that the people around you need attention and most of all, a woman needs to be a woman, not a machine! www.humanvalue.eu28
  32. 32. Elena Marinova President and Owner Musala Soft Sector: ICT, Software “We should not forget that we are all human beings!“ Elena Marinova for Human Value International Wouldyoupresentyourselfinaprofessionalperspective? Would you present your organization in summary? I am President and Owner of Musala Soft. I hold a BSc degree in Economics and MSc degree in Strategic Management. My core responsibilities within Musala Soft include building up corporate image, developing marketing strategy, communicating with key accounts and supervising HR. Our Board of Directors consists of six people, five of them with solid technical background; I am the only one with pure business profile. Regarding social and community activities, I endeavour fostering Bulgaria’s positive image as internationally recognized IT destination. I take active part in projects aiming promotionandsupportofBulgaria’sbusinessclimateand brand, enhancement of IT education, encouragement of innovation and science and development of young talented people. Musala Soft is specialized in providing complete software solutions and IT consultancy. Our mission is to understand clients’ needs and provide effectively the most adequate technical solutions for their business. The major part of our activities is software consultancy and development services to foreign multinational enterprises such as DHL, HP, IBM, and SAP. Among our keyaccountsinBulgariaareM-Tel,OMVandtheNational Revenue Agency. Our services are also extended to various innovative SMEs, mainly located abroad. Our team is of 160 professionals - mostly software engineers, graduated from the best universities in Bulgaria. Among them are winners of international competitions in Informatics as well as engineers with extensive work experience in diverse software projects. We are working on a global scale and our goal is to create a multinational and multicultural environment. Our clients are one of the gates to our global business. The other one are the internship programs we organize – they are open both to Bulgarians and foreigners. In 2009 for example, we had 16 interns: 7 foreigners and 3 of the 9 Bulgarians were studying in universities abroad. We also maintain a Technology and Innovation unit consisting of about 20 people who are working on R&D projects in cooperation with Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Technical University - Sofia and Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Besides, we have a joint research group with the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics, Sofia University. www.humanvalue.eu29
  33. 33. We are strongly investing in business processes and standards. Musala Soft holds the leading certificates for processes management: ISO 9001:2000 and CMMI Level 3 (the highest one in Bulgaria). In terms of technologies, Musala Soft is committed to providing latest commercial tools and skills to our clients. We are member of IT industry leaders’ partner programs which gives us access to the latest technologies and educational resources: IBM Premier Business Partner for Software, Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Oracle Certified Partner, TIBCO Consulting Partner. Team members are committed to non-stop learning, knowledge sharing and a high degree of personal involvement – certifications, improvement, project management, etc. Would you tell us about your career ladder? Your starting point and the path to the top? It began in 6th grade when I entered Sofia High School of Mathematics. There I was surrounded by many talented kids. Afterwards I decided to continue studying in the First English Language School where I found myself in the great company of elite students as well. When becoming a student at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, major Economics, my main interests turned to be in human resources, management and marketing. Luckily enough I have always been part of highly competitive environments, where people were talented, ambitious and capable – that had an exceptional influence for my personal development. While at the university, I used to work as journalist, editor for an international economic magazine and I was teaching English language as well. The best part of being a journalist was making the research – writing itself wasn’t so amusing. The most exciting part of my work as a teacher was the communication with children. It is interesting to know that many people in Musala are teaching or have been working as lecturers or assistants. This experience is quite valuable for the professional development – teaching creates a number of valuable skills communication capabilities and clear expression of ideas to mention some. My “real” career began with and still is Musala Soft. I met Dido, the current CEO of Musala, who was having plans to start a software company. That’s how on the 1st of April 2000 Musala Soft was born. At that time our office was an apartment and we started a little before the crash of .COM – a crisis in the IT industry comparable to the current economic one, but concentrated in one business domain only. TWe managed to survive, and even started some new projects and attracted new clients. What sort of challenges a woman at a top management position encounters? Gender does not really matter for people interested in business, when it comes to closing deals and work efficiently. The higher in hierarchy, the less important gender is. If you have nerves of steel and can cope with less sleep, if you are able to communicate and have a strong team, then you are in the game. From this point on it is up to ideas, insight and adequate estimation of time, place and methods, human connections. A little luck is needed as well. I reckon the biggest challenge for me is being strong enough in every single situation and at the same time synchronize the interests of each party in the work process. Somebody said “If things are under control, then you are not fast enough” – high speed is exhausting but exciting. In business you are developing at the pace of those around or you are no longer part of the game. And if you manage to be faster than the others then you are the one who creates the rules – succeeding here is extremely satisfying. Of course, everyone needs to relax sometimes. In addition, every mother is facing the same challenges – give her children the best she can, educate them accordingly, spend enough time together and give them a horizon in life. I am not an exception. How do you balance personal and professional life? What compromises you need to do? Balance between different interests is a key necessity - regarding family, intra-company, clients, society… I am a determined and organized person. I always follow my priorities but of course, sometimes I am unable to foresee and arrange everything just like everybody else. It is the same with most managers - the end of the 9 to 5 working day is not the actual end of the work duties. The higher the position, the most difficult choices you have to make, facing undefined situations where the decision is never a standard one – parameters are changing and there are always questions remaining. I believe the reason I am able to find a comfortable balance is because I am quite different in my professional and in my personal life. In professional plan I am organized, controlling and avoiding high risk levels. . In my personal life I am rather chaotic and extreme. Still, both ways, I love meeting many different people and that energizes me. My family supports me a lot, especially when it comes to my son Victor. www.humanvalue.eu30
  34. 34. How do you manage the important things in your personal life? Talking about important things in life… My son Victor is the most important thing in my life. In business terms, most valuable is having a strong and united team and quality partners. Regarding my social activities my biggest efforts are currently targeted at education, science & innovation and development of young talents. My family is always with me too. I cannot imagine my success without them. I adore the mountains and like hiking, I also love sleeping until late but unfortunately the last one is a luxury. In your opinion and according to your experience, is there inequality when a woman and a man compete for a same position? One cannot simply rely on a smile to achieve success and build a career. More important is identifying the right person for certain job and matching personalities and ideas. Human relations and capacity of establishing contacts are really important in business. Female charm or male aggression can help at first but professionalism is what counts ultimately. Women differ from men in their way of thinking based on senses. They are more flexible and arrange their priorities better. Their analyses are usually “softer” and based on the human factor. Women are also great on multitasking. A team is better when it consists of men and women –genders complement each other. After all, the basic difference between women and men is that women can be mothers, at a given moment. From business perspective this is a question of uncertainty and risk because no employer can predict what will happen with a pregnant woman. Even women do not know how they will feel after giving birth: how long they will be absent,what work regime they will prefer, etc. The role of the state is very important here – there are many good practices for controlling the risk by compensating both employers and mothers during maternity leave and helping mothers’ return to the office. Corporate thinking and resource planning are necessary in order to prevent considerable corporate losses and at the same time, keep female presence in teams. What is your motivation at this position? What do you like most in your job? I like meeting interesting people and having the opportunity to “create” my own environment. And what I like the most about Musala is the team. It gives me a sense of security and stability. It is an amazing feeling knowing that we can achieve every single goal we embrace together. I like to see the spark of inspiration in my colleagues’ and partners’ eyes when we encounter interesting tasks. I like the commitment to the job and the ability to make work also fun. I really appreciate having the opportunity and the freedom of achieving goals which are not strictly related to financial benefits but have long-term social effects. Good examples are all educational initiatives – e.g. “IT Leaders Academy” developed together with FMI, Sofia University and the “Business Leaders Academy” – a joint effort with the Faculty of Economics at Sofia University. All the lectors we invite are enthusiastic about speaking to the students. For me, organizing all these is great pleasure because I meet world class leaders people and for students it is an opportunity to get to know real business, learning from experts’ experience. What is your message to the businesswomen? At the end of the day, in the world of business there is no difference between women and men. We should always remember we are all human beings. www.humanvalue.eu31