Stoyan Vankov (EMBA’19): The EMBA Program gave me “an extra dose of courage to pursue different opportunities and challenges”

July 08, 2022 American University in Bulgaria
Stoyan Vankov (EMBA’19): The EMBA Program gave me “an extra dose of courage to pursue different opportunities and challenges”

Meet Stoyan Vankov (EMBA’19), Product Lead/Product Owner at Tarya Fintech Bulgaria. He tells us about his impressive career journey in the financial sector, and why he thinks successful professionals need to upgrade their skills with an EMBA education.

Career path

I have to admit that I have pursued a rather straight-forward line in my career development. Ever since I was a young student in high school, I was fascinated by movies about the financial markets and especially by Arthur Hailey’s book “The Moneychangers” which depicted the life of fine-looking, smart-dressed bankers making important decisions. So naturally I wanted to be part of the financial world, which led me to pursue job opportunities in the banking sector. I started working in one of Bulgaria’s top three banks and gradually moved from an entry position in a small branch to head of the credit risk department.

It was at that point that I enrolled in the EMBA program in order to broaden my horizons. Broadening horizons is precisely what the program gave me, plus an extra dose of courage to pursue different opportunities and challenges.

After completing the EMBA education,  I decided to quit the banking world and harness my financial background in favor of the fintech industry. Now I am employing my skills and determination as part of a fintech company working on multinational markets in the challenging sphere of embedded financing and peer-to-peer lending.


It is certainly hard to give a straightforward answer to that question but my motivation to join the program was driven by the fact that over the last several years my personal focus has been on building my career and I believed that this professional effort needed to be balanced and supplemented by proper education. The structured educational EMBA program introduces a new skill set which can hardly be obtained from intuitive on-the-job training and seminars. Each step in career advancement requires constantly building on the current and obtaining different sets of expertise. The shift from expert to manager poses the challenge to partially abandon the expert know-how and start developing managerial arsenal – leadership and motivational qualities, team management, employee support, organizational vision, critical thinking, complex problem solving, management of complicated and stressful situations and operating in crisis conditions. Over the course of the years, those qualities are more or less nurtured by the successful organizations but they could be brought to a higher level only by executive education.

Needless to say, I am always driven by challenges.

And the AUBG EMBA has the reputation of an elite and challenging program.

However, if you could successfully navigate those stormy waters then you can wear your badge of honor with pride and be recognized among fellow colleagues and employers as having passed one of the most demanding educational courses.

As to the second part of the question, the practical case studies during the semesters had a synergetic effect in helping me simultaneously increase my professional possibilities and my educational qualification. One must not forget the social aspect of academic life. Meeting fellow colleagues employed in different companies operating in a wide variety of  sectors and working in diverse environments allowed for mutual exchange of ideas, experience and practices thus broadening each other’s horizons and understanding of the business world. This diversity is the founding stone for innovation which is so crucial and necessary in modern days. In more practical terms, after the program I was able to communicate much more freely and on an even ground even with the most senior C suite level managers in the industry.


Aside from the practical knowledge and expertise gained from the EMBA education, the most important takeaway for me was the confidence that with the right team and with the right attitude there are no unachievable targets and really sky’s the limit.

Turning to the challenges it is curious how now I think of late night work, tight deadlines, pressing case studies, looming comprehensive papers, difficult exams, hard sell presentations, conflicting priorities, juggling between professional, personal and EMBA life, demanding teachers, team preparations and presentations as pleasant, romantic and easily manageable aspects of my life. This is purely thanks to the “Let’s get it done” attitude that is nurtured by the EMBA program.

EMBA impact

Aaaah, the cohort life! There is nothing like it. Only through the hardships over the course of those two years one can forge such a strong bond with fellow students. At some point, you realize that you have made a whole cohort of true, tried and tested friends with whom you always have something to discuss and share both on a professional and on a personal note. My colleagues and I are always up to having fun in the clubs around Sofia as well as offer professional advice and job recommendations.

Favorite courses

Let me put it this way, there was not a single course that I did not visit with eagerness, passion and desire to learn something new.

And I can assure you, that no matter how advanced one may think he is in his professional life, there is always, always something new that can surprise you coming from both the teachers and the teammates in the cohort.

Whether it is the practicality of Finance and Accounting, the engagement and motivation in Human Resource management, the nitty gritty details of Operations Management, the new ways of thinking in International Business, the adventurism in Entrepreneurship, the human nature in Negotiations and Behavioral economics, the hidden aspects of Organizational Design and Management, the pivotal importance of Leadership, just to name a few. These are the things that I will always remember and cherish. Only through being  exposed to this multivariate, multifaceted face of the modern day business, one can say that he has really the ability to not only look, but to really understand and see what are the cogwheels driving the bigger picture.

Piece of advice

My advice to an EMBA candidate is to start by asking himself or herself this tricky and ridiculously difficult question “Why”. And if the answer is “ I want to expand my professional expertise far beyond what I think is possible, build strong relations with like-minded individuals, that I will wholeheartedly call friends, I want my understanding and professional notions to be challenged but also to challenge those of other people, I am not afraid to jump into the arena and sacrifice a little bit of the nights ahead, I want to be able to face whatever professional challenge with a calm “I can do it “ smile, then welcome to the future cohort.

One practical and extremely helpful tip: In case of doubt and confusion you can always rely on the advice and help of our guardian angel – Poly [Pavlina Atke, Director Graduate and Executive Programs and Elieff Center].

Free time

There is an old saying: “There is wisdom in the mountains and the wilderness”. When I have the tiniest amount of time available I immediately embark on a journey to try and find it. I still haven’t, so I will try over and over again.

Inspired to pursue EMBA?

Check out AUBG EMBA