Joana Vasileva (EMBA’14) has more than 20 years of experience in business processes and people management within international companies. Some of her positions include Business Process and Global Service Line Manager and Service Delivery Manager at DXC Technology, a company for IT services and consulting, and Chief Operating Officer at A Data Pro, an information services company. Joana identifies herself as an “empathy warrior” and has 14 years of experience in building happy and productive teams.
In honor of the 20th anniversary of the AUBG Executive MBA program, we are talking to some of the alumni who were part of this journey. Joana (EMBA’14) shared with us more about her Executive MBA studies and her professional advancement.
Because of the programme, I learned how to be more self-confident, manage difficult situations, and tweak a thing or two in a way that stakeholders around me appreciated my contribution.
Why EMBA at AUBG
It’s not the most inspiring story, but it’s a very common one that many people can relate to. I did it out of necessity. Ten years ago, while working at the biggest IT company, I had the chance to occupy a management position. However, as a philologist at heart with a bachelor’s degree in Japanese Studies, I was truly bored by the presentations pertaining to financial results. I lacked the necessary theory, but at the same time, my performance was measured by how I managed my P&L. Long story short, I needed to go back to school and catch up. The EMBA program at AUBG turned out to be the best choice.
Since I was yearning for this knowledge, I was very focused on embracing everything I could, taking the best from the professors and spending as much time as possible on campus. Everything was so intriguing, enriching, and fun that I don’t even remember how I got pregnant and gave birth between the 1st and 3rd semester! This is not a joke (winking).
One can never effectively maximize knowledge alone.
I’m a true believer that together, we can achieve more.
Similarly, the way the program was constructed naturally brought people together while leaving decent room for individual contributions. It was well-weighed and balanced throughout the whole time, so participants could get used to this mindset, experiment long enough, and eventually adopt it for good. Teamwork and collaboration are the essence of success. Unfortunately, these behaviours are neither known nor encouraged within the Bulgarian educational system.
Professors and Projects
I loved and still love them all. The effort and enthusiasm they all invested was admirable. I do appreciate every bit of their work. Certainly, I still have a few rather vivid memories, which we can probably fairly tag as “favourite.” For example, Borachev with his never-ending symbiotic behaviour where a sense of humour never obstructed the discipline he held in class. Akbar with his super engaging and enriching discussions. Erdinc with her never-ending positive attitude, which she didn’t lose even for a second despite us changing moods like teenagers! McGuire with his adventurous and mesmerising cases, which amazingly he’d experienced, wrote, and analysed himself. Marla Howard, who really did her best to be the strictest of them all (after all, she was teaching finance!), yet she couldn’t resist falling into the Bulgarian’s mischievous students’ hearts.”
It made a huge difference. It was such a revelation! I learned the things I needed, but also, I got equipped with more instruments that helped me execute my strategic plan. And yes, I got promoted after that. My career path got steeper as well. Honestly, I don’t separate the EMBA from the effort I put into work. I believe my desire to learn combined with the excellent execution of the programme itself is what made me successful.
Piece of advice
As a continuation of my previous statement, I would encourage everyone who is hesitant to just go ahead and try it. If the idea has already crossed your mind, chances are you are on the right path. You can start by taking a course or talking to us alumni, but don’t ignore the urge, as it can be life-changing! One more thing – I know it may seem frighteningly expensive to some because we are used to receiving cheaper education in Bulgaria, but actually, it is not!
Education is priceless, especially when you are surrounded by such professionals and willingly put in the time and effort.
Just go for it, even if that means you have to take a loan. It will pay off for years to come.