Plamen Lazarov is part of Cohort 16 of the AUBG EMBA Program and the Executive Director at Metaltechnik, a metalworking company in Northwestern Bulgaria. Plamen is currently working on realizing his master thesis: a social entrepreneurship project that aims to prepare Bulgarian youth for work with the newest generation of manufacturing machines with Numeric control. Read our interview to learn more about his memories from the EMBA Program, his career path and his understanding of what truly sustainable social impact means.
What was the aim of your AUBG EMBA social entrepreneurship project?
The project is connected to my factory which is a metalworking company in Northwestern Bulgaria, called Metaltechnik. While enrolled in the AUBG EMBA program, I had the chance to work on practically oriented tasks. Most of the projects I did were connected to the factory. My master thesis was also in a way, even though not directly, connected to the company. For the purposes of my final project, I decided to create a special class that will teach students to work with the new generation of digital machines, also known as CNC machines. Students in the local high school moslty study economics and IT. Yet upone graduation, if they do not continue to higher education they lack practical skills needed to work manufacturing jobs which are well paid and have high requirement for workers. That’s why I chose to initiate this educational program and help them gain skills required to operate and maintain CNC manufacturing machines. Even if the kids decide to go abroad later on, they will be highly skilled workers who will receive competitive salaries.
What has come out of your idea?
In reality, we are at the very start. At the moment, the first students are finishing their second year of studies. Even if we experienced certain difficulties in finding proper materials and proper teachers, I’m glad to say that the enrolled participants are successfully studying. Each new class will provide us with new insights and we will be able to improve the organization of the course. The real results will come out once the first students graduate. (…) Hopefully, we will have more qualified workers for our factory and most importantly, the graduated students will be more skilled.
What other insights did you get from the AUBG EMBA program? What was the most valuable lesson you learnt during your studies?
Maybe, the most valuable thing that I personally obtained is higher self-esteem. Even if I’m the owner of the company, there was a different director running it before me. I was unhappy with the job he was doing but I wasn’t sure that I could do better. The EMBA program gave me the needed confidence and I dared to try. I’m pleased with the progress I’ve achieved as a company director so far. Apart from boosting my self-confidence, throughout my graduate studies I also gained valuable practical knowledge in the fields of managerial accounting, supply chain management and operational management.
Beyond the academics, would you say that connections and friendships are also important?
Friendships are definitely important. I had a great relationship with the whole class. We are still very close and we meet very often. Since my business follows a more traditional approach, I can’t say that networking was that useful for me. Most of my classmates benefited from networking more since they were interested in more innovative fields, such as IT and Pharmaceutics. That’s the reason why I couldn’t get the most out of networking. But friendships are undoubtedly among the best things that came out of my EMBA studies.
How did the EMBA program affect your professional development?
Well, I definitely became more certain in what I do. Before enrolling in the MBA program, I thought that in order to succeed in the field, I need to be better than everyone else in my factory. However, my perception changed once I began my graduate studies at AUBG. During the first semester, we had this one class I would never forget. We were doing a project on the owner of Ali Baba, Jack Ma. Jack Ma has said multiple times that he always hires people “who are better than him.” His words stuck in my mind and inspired me to change my worldview. I realized that I don’t need to be better that all my employees. I just need to hire the better employees. It’s as simple as that.
Why is it important for you to be socially engaged?
As a right-minded person, I believe that the strongest social impact can come out of a normal business. A well-run business can have a high social value. Personally, I feel good every time I contribute to society. It’s all about this inner feeling.