AUBG alumnus Martin Iliev (’19) is the winner of one of the five BGN10 000 Tuk-Tam scholarships for 2020. Over 100 recent university graduates competed for scholarships that every year support talented young people to study abroad and then return and contribute to Bulgaria.
“When you come from AUBG and you apply in competitions, you feel prepared,” Iliev said. “You feel like you have the necessary toolkit in terms of skills and knowledge. When I enter an interview, especially if it is around the topic of finance, I know that I have the full intellectual backing of people like, for example, Professor Mark Leonard, Professor Andrey Gurov.”
Iliev, an Economics major at AUBG, has been admitted to the London Business School where he will study finance. “What I am most passionate about is the field of direct investments, be it from private equity or venture capital,” he said. “At the end of the day I believe that’s what finance should be about — providing funds to viable sustainable projects that make humanity a bit better, one step at a time.”
Tuk-Tam, a community of Bulgarians with experience living, working and studying abroad, provides the scholarships every year, asking the participants to return to Bulgaria once they complete their master’s abroad. “Bulgaria has started to develop an ecosystem, there are a lot of startups and a lot of venture capital funds to accommodate them,” Iliev said. I believe that the country can see a lot of growth in the coming years because more and more people choose to come back here and pursue their careers at home. I personally have friends working in the UK that are actively debating whether or not to come home and I believe it is just a matter of time that they do.”
Martin Iliev at the award ceremony.
The scholarship applicants and Tuk-Tam's team.
Iliev said he chose to study at the London Business School because, beyond the prestigious program that is “at the cutting edge of research and practical applications,” the university has smaller classes like AUBG. “One of the things I have observed is that we at AUBG take it for granted that you can speak to a professor and get decent feedback fairly quickly on your work and you can hold a very productive relationship with your professor,” he said. “And that’s not the case with many foreign universities. When I spent a semester abroad in the University of Amsterdam and the London School of Economics, I was one of 600 students and the professor did not know me by name, and did not have regular office hours where I could ask questions.”
Studying economics provided a “great foundation” for his interest in finance, Iliev said, but the university’s liberal arts program also allowed him to pursue his other interests. “At AUBG, every class has a particular allure in itself, I took a lot of stuff that wasn’t necessarily related to my major,” he said. “I took biology simply because I was interested, I took psychology and a lot of political science courses. Professor Sardamov’s classes in political science were always extremely intriguing and thought-provoking.”
Beyond academics, Iliev was president of the Investment Management Club, a student club for AUBGers interested in finance that, among other activities, offers scholarships and organizes a Business trip to London. “Being a president of IMC is a big responsibility,” Iliev said. “You have to be knowledgeable; you have to share knowledge with others. It is a learning experience both for the club members and for the club leader. I learned a lot about interacting with people, managing people, keeping them engaged in the whole process.”
Find out more about the Tuk-Tam Scholarship Fund “Go, Study and Come Back” here.