Martin Petrov (EMBA’16), Who Climbed Montblanc to Help Fight Diabetes

November 08, 2020 Dimana Doneva
Martin Petrov (EMBA’16), Who Climbed Montblanc to Help Fight Diabetes

Beyond successful professionals, AUBG’s EMBA alumni are also socially engaged citizens who strive to make positive impact in their communities. One such person is Martin Petrov (EMBA’16) whose dedication to the cause of promoting diabetes awareness led him all the way to Montblanc. Without any prior mountaineering experience, Petrov embarked on the adventure to climb Europe’s higher peak to help advance the mission to support children with Type 1 Diabetes and their families.

A native of Vidin, a city on the southern bank of Danube in Bulgaria, Petrov is part of Lions Club Vidin and their main initiative Strides for Diabetes. We reached out to the EMBA alum, who is Managing Director at Technical Components Bulgaria, to learn more about his ascent of Montblanc, what motivates him to do volunteer work and how he remembers his years as an AUBG student.

Congratulations on the success of your initiative to climb Montblanc – an impressive achievement, especially given the limited time you had to prepare. Tell us about your experience taking on this challenging task. What moments were most difficult and what do you think helped you succeed?

Maybe bored by the daily routines, in need for introspection, wishing to test my own limits or looking for new adventures, the decision to climb Montblanc was a bit impulsive at the time, considering the zero mountaineering experience I had, but also a great personal challenge for me. There are three components in climbing that one needs to train and develop – the physical, the technical and the mental aspect. Exploring and learning basic mountaineering techniques, extensive physical and mental trainings, diets and restriction resulted in a successful summit eight months later.

The most difficult moments on the route were, of course, the climbing of the “Grand Couloir” –notorious for falling rocks — and then ascending it back 18 hours later when one is totally exhausted. The insufficient prior acclimatization and shortage of oxygen brought the first signs of altitude sickness to most of the members when we passed over 3000m, combined with fatigue and the equivalent to -25 degrees. The route duration (excluding a 4 hours break, in which you are not able to sleep) was nearly 24 hours, so towards the end you enter a trance-like state. That is when I became convinced that the mental aspect was the most [important one] for a successful summit.

So, invaluable support from my family and company, good preparation, ambition, desire, mental tenacity, focus and self-belief were part of the formula that brought favorable outcomes.

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Martin Petrov (EMBA'16) and the expedition team

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The expedition

The expedition to Montblanc is part of Lions Club’s larger initiative to fight diabetes. Please tell me a bit more about this cause – what is its scope and what other activities have you led to advance it? What is your overall experience as part of Lions Club Vidin and what motivates you to do volunteer work?

Lions are an international network of 1.4 million men and women dedicated to making a difference locally and globally. Diabetes is the signature cause of Lions and Leos around the world so during my mandate as LC Vidin president in 2018-2019 we’ve initiated series of related initiatives, the so called Strides against Diabetes in form of adventure activities. The first of these was to cross by boat the Bulgarian aquatory of Black Sea and Danube. The Second – a week long Stride over 1000km distance on land by bicycles, on water by motor boats and in the air by hot air balloon. During those strides we’ve performed thousands of blood sugar tests and managed to rise enough attention on national and international level towards the Diabetes problems in Bulgaria, so that we are qualified now for the so far largest grant in Eastern Europe by Lions International Foundation for a project called Bulgaria Against Diabetes. We are now in a campaign to fundraise the matching grant. That was a major cause for my Montblanc adventure. Everyone who wants to make a change can do so by a small donation on the site of DMS DIABET or SMS text on 17 777.

Career path

I have a bachelor degree in electronics engineering with scope biomedical electronics. My first job for over three years was for a small company specialized in respirators and anesthesia machines. During the time I further enhanced my knowledge with a master’s degree in international relations. In 2008, I joined Technical Components Bulgaria – a small at the time German subsidiary company for electronics production based in my hometown Vidin.


Well, most of the reasons and motivators are the same that led me to Montblanc, in addition to the need for better professional knowledge and abilities and wider view of business processes. Advanced and flexible management skills were all needed at my position. During the time the Company was scaling fewfold in revenues, profits and personnel. One of the greatest benefits is the exclusive alumni network with top specialists from all industries.

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EMBA impact

I upgraded myself on topics such as communication and soft skills, confidence, self-esteem, well-roundedness, etiquette, credibility, maturity, professionalism, feedback, leadership.

We, [the alumni] are strongly collaborating not only on everyday business, social and private themes over cross sections of our industries, but there are also few successful examples of common entrepreneurships between the classmates. Cohort 14 is one of the most famous among the EMBA alumni for the above but also for the great reunions (sometimes on a monthly basis 🙂 )

Piece of advice

I can highly recommend the program as a life changing experience and advice everyone to consider it: Don’t wait!

To quote an unknown author: “Hiking is a bit like life: The journey only requires you to put one foot in front of the other…again and again and again. And if you allow yourself the opportunity to be present throughout the entirety of the trek, you will witness beauty every step of the way, not just at the summit”

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I used to like dirt bikes, hunting, balloon flying, but in later years I’m enjoying more social and family related activities like boating, sailing, travelling and of course the latest thrill – the mountains.