Eftim Eftimov (BA‘08; EMBA‘18): An Entrepreneur, a Volunteer and “Part of a Generation that Chose to Stay in Bulgaria”
Eftim Eftimov graduated AUBG’s BA program with a Business Administration major in 2008 and ten years later obtained his EMBA degree, again from AUBG. In the meanwhile, he has managed to launch a real estate business, play a lead role in one of AUBG’s musicals, work on AUBG Alumni Association’s leadership team and establish an NGO that in three years has collected over 200,000 BGN to help people and animals.
What was your first destination after AUBG?
Right after AUBG, I was fortunate to begin my professional life in Sofia, working in a real estate consultancy company called Colliers International. It was a great place to learn, and with a very positive and friendly environment. I spent almost three years there and it destined me to a career path in real estate that I still enjoy.
What have you been up to ever since: where have you lived, studied and worked?
13 years after graduation, I spend most of my time in Bulgaria, while I try to use every opportunity to travel the world. I didn’t jump around too much professionally, changing three jobs in eight years. All were in the real estate field but covering different points of view – consulting, banking, investment. Ever since I started my own company Property Club ( propertyclub.eu) I have been focused on growing it. In the past years, I did spend a significant amount of time in the U.S., yet I consider myself part of a generation that chose to stay in Bulgaria and give it all to improve the image of the country. Yet again, Sofia is a great place for people in their late 20s/early 30s, so I don’t take it as any form of sacrifice.
How was the idea for your NGO, One Percent Change, born? What is the cause of the organization?
One Percent Change was born out of my personal desire to make a positive impact on the community I live in. The idea came while I was reading a book called “How to Change the World” that is part of the materials of the UK based group The School of Life .
The organization was founded by me and my close friends Svetla and Maria who shared the desire to start acting and find our own way of giving back to society. Now, three years later, we can say with certainty that the purpose of the organization is not just to collect money monthly in order to help those in need. We aim to turn the personal initiative, responsibility, care, and empathy into the fundamental values of the society that we live in. The organization grows every month and we see the impact we have on people’s lives – more hope for the ones we donate to, and more satisfaction and recognition for the ones that contribute.
One Percent Change recently celebrated its third birthday. What have you achieved in these past three years?
The numbers are what sticks to people’s minds – we have collected over 200,000 BGN and helped over 3,000 individuals (including animals) in those 36+ monthly causes. Yet it is something way beyond the numbers that is our biggest achievement. We managed to form a movement. Daily, we are creating some healthy habits for the people that want to make a difference, the people who don’t wait for something bad to happen to them in order to start making a change. It is not only about compassion, but also about the strength of the community. More and more people understand that only by being together we can aim to solve big societal problems. Yes, it depends on us!
How do you balance work responsibilities and volunteering? What advice would you give to recent university graduates about building a fulfilling life and career?
Elon Musk says that “Nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.” What I usually say is that I am not afraid of the 100-hour work week but I am afraid of unstructured and unfulfilling work.
It is important that we manage our work-life balance. It is even more important that the daily duties that take most of our productive time help us develop and bring us happiness and joy. Most of the time, this boils down to having great people around us and seeing the value of what we do together – work or spare time.
I am fortunate to have this in both my daily job and the volunteering I do for One Percent Change. I chose to do what I do with the people that I trust and the people who push me to become a better version of myself every day.
Tell us a bit about your time at AUBG. In what ways have your AUBG education, experience and friendships had an impact on your career and who you are today? Are you still in touch and collaborating with other AUBG graduates?
I have said it many times that AUBG was the trigger for success in my professional career- I did both my BA and EMBA with the university (with a difference of 10 years). Being part of the Alumni Association post-graduation additionally helped me enhance my network. I find great value in being part of the alumni base as those contacts open a lot of doors. I stay in touch and am always happy to meet AUBG graduates because when we talk I know I am talking to like-minded people. In fact, there are a lot of AUBG alumni who are part of the community of One Percent Change, they are probably the most committed ones, they spread the word and help in every way they can. Here is a good place to personally thank my colleagues from Cohort 16 of the EMBA program who really embraced the cause!
What extracurricular activities/exchange programs/competitions did you participate in while at AUBG? How did they affect your university experience and who you are today?
Back in AUBG, I was all about sports. I played soccer, basketball, beer pong, ha-ha :) The one thing I sort of regret was that I was already a senior when the Broadway Performance Club was established and I didn’t manage to participate as a student. I took my chances a few years later, as part of the musical All Shook Up, and this is probably one of the best experiences in my life. I really reconnected with the university, found a bunch of new friends and enjoyed the togetherness that surrounds such projects. It really taught me a lot and made me a better person.
Interview by Dimana Doneva