Polly Atke on 20 Years AUBG Executive MBA

October 17, 2023 Tsvetana Haydushka
Polly Atke on 20 Years AUBG Executive MBA

Pavlina Atke, or Polly – as everyone refers to her, began her career at AUBG in 1993 as an Admissions Counselor, where she had the opportunity to represent the university and interact with prospective students. Over the following seven years, she served as the Assistant Director of Admissions, a role she thoroughly enjoyed. In 2002, Polly transitioned to the Faculty Office team, allowing her to work closely with the AUBG professors. Polly holds an MBA degree from the University of National and World Economy in Sofia. She has over 30 years of experience in the field of higher education.

In 2004, Polly was extended an invitation to join the AUBG team at the heart of the EMBA program – the Elieff Center in Sofia, becoming a part of the recently established Executive program. Currently, she is the Director of Graduate and Executive Programs and Elieff Center. While Polly is the constant of the EMBA team, she is now working in a team with Ani Argirova, Senior Officer of Graduate and Executive Programs, and Momtchil Karpouzanov, Academic Director of Graduate Programs.

“My name is Polly Atke – a wife and a mother of two daughters, one of them an AUBG alumna. [And after so many years] I am still in love with my job. I am happy to work with my small but devoted to the program team.”

Read the 20-year-long story of the Executive MBA program and Polly’s take on it below:


In our work, the most important part is the personal contact with the applicants. We work with very busy professionals, most of them with family and kids. We have to make sure they are applying to the program at the right time for them, that our program is the best one for their personal and professional goals and will meet their expectations, and of course that they fit into the group.  Sometimes we work two to three years with an applicant before they enroll in the program.

We then support them throughout the program, which is a challenging and gratifying journey. After they graduate, we continue our relationship with them by offering a lot of leadership workshops and alumni events.

We invite them to share their experience with prospective students – how the program has helped them professionally and personally, and what was the takeaway from their EMBA journey.

In the cohorts throughout the years, Polly has worked with people who are joining AUBG for the first time, as well as with alumni from the AUBG bachelor program, and AUBG employees who strive to further develop their professional expertise. 

Some of the EMBA courses are offered on Open enrollment, so we have professionals who take just one or a few courses. Some of our courses are offered to our AUBG colleagues through the professional development program.

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Polly Atke with EMBA students/personal archives.

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Polly Atke and AUBG EMBA Cohort 22.

We also take care of the international faculty, who come to Sofia only for the weekends, while working on the logistics of their travels but also the warm welcome in Sofia. Some come from the USA, others – from different parts of Europe. We try to make them feel like they are at home.

The Cohorts

In my experience, our EMBA program has always built lifelong connections and friendships. This hasn’t changed throughout the years, with each cohort having its own schedule for meetings and going out after they graduate. Their families and kids are also friends and this is fantastic!

I have noticed in the last years that more professionals with 25+ years of experience are joining the program, driven by their desire to learn and develop as a lifelong experience.

In the last few years, we have had more students from the pharma industry, also medical doctors. This diversity is very good for the class dynamic as students from different fields get to learn from each other, exchange ideas, and support one another.

I have also noticed the business world in the region recognizing our importance in preparing their top professionals. The companies in Sofia have started to invest more in their people by funding their tuition for our program.

 The Long-lasting Relationship

I love the weekends when we have classes and I can talk to our students during the breaks. Listening to them talk about a business case or exchange ideas has always been fascinating and enriching to me, and it helps me get better at what I do. We often go out after classes and continue to exchange ideas while also having fun together.

I know each student who has gone through our program, and I keep in touch with most after they graduate.

I am very happy to say I have a very special friendship with most of them and they keep coming to Elieff Center to see me years after they have graduated. I know we can rely on them when we need their support for Open House days, for giving a lecture, or for sharing their experience with other applicants.

I love seeing them keep in touch and rely on each other both professionally and personally – that’s what our program is all about. It’s supposed to turn your life around 180 degrees in all kinds of positive ways.

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Polly Atke with AUBG EMBA alumni

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The AUBG Executive MBA team

20 Years EMBA

“The whole team is excited to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our EMBA Program with faculty, alumni, and supporters at the EMBA Gala. We look forward to seeing a lot of our alumni and the people who made the growth and success of the program possible – share memories, catch up, and just enjoy our journey together – what has been and what is yet to come.”

EMBA 20th Anniversary Gala