Georgi Zahariev (‘95), Director at Dynamo Software: “Dream Big and Act on It”
In a series of interviews, we will feature some of the region’s prominent business experts coming from various industries. We now introduce you to AUBG alumnus Georgi Zahariev (’95) who has extensive experience in investment management software and currently works as a director at Dynamo Software, Bulgaria.
Founded in 1998 by AUBG alumni, Dynamo Software (formerly Netage Solutions) is a global software provider for the alternative investment industry. In 2017 it attracted one of the largest investments in a Bulgarian software company to date. Since then, backed by private equity firm Francisco Partners, the company has been growing rapidly and continues to employ a number of AUBG alumni.
What are the top three skills employers are looking for today?
I will focus on the skills we look for in candidates for entry-level positions with some managerial responsibilities.
The first one (which I myself acquired at AUBG) is communication. Basic communication, as in "always keep your audience in mind". My favorite interview question is "Please explain what a computer mouse is to a 4-year old child". You would not believe how many people start their answer with "The computer mouse is a device which..." Obviously, at that point, the interview is over.
The next skill we are looking for is problem-solving. This is what everyone does on a daily basis at their job - solve problems. How to answer a customer request, when to schedule an event, what feature to develop - every decision you make is in effect your solution to a problem. You will not come up with the right solution every time and that is fine. What matters the most is the ability to analyze a situation and foresee the outcome of your decision.
And finally - the ability to work with other people. All jobs require teamwork. Doing your part is important but what ultimately matters is the team output. We have had great professionals who have been very productive but have had a net negative effect on the productivity of their teams. Since there are only so many single-person tasks we can assign them, in the end we usually part ways with such people.
If you could give your younger self just one piece of career advice, what would it be?
Take bigger risks when you are younger. I am not saying drop out of college to start a company. The success rate of those is dismal despite the few prominent examples. But dream big and act on it.
What business leader—past or present— inspires you the most? Why?
I don't think we should be looking up to famous business leaders for inspiration. The foundation of a thriving society are the countless small businesses that don't get media coverage. All the bakeries, farms, service shops, restaurants, small factories, etc. All the people who care about doing a great job and are proud of what they do. They are the ones who inspire me. Unfortunately, we (in Bulgaria) had lost them and are only starting to see them coming back in the last 10-20 years.
The liberal arts education puts emphasis on discovery, creativity, and critical thinking: by exploring a lot of disciplines, rather than focusing on just one. In what ways do people who have received a liberal arts education bring value to business?
Most businesses are about understanding people - what they do, how they do it, what they like and don't like, how they feel... Even if you are selling to corporations, it is still people who make the decisions there, and people who use whatever you are selling.
The exposure to this variety of disciplines and ideas you get in a liberal arts program puts you in a much better position to understand others. Not necessarily agree with, but understand and appreciate the different point of view. And when that different view is the one of a customer, or a vendor, or a colleague - then you are better at solving the countless problems that make up your job.