Tchaprachikoff Scholar Yana Velkova ('08): “I Cherish the Time Spent at AUBG”

Yana Velkova (‘08) has been accepted to one of the most prestigious MBA programs in the world: the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. AUBG will support her studies with a Tchaprachikoff scholarship, a scholarship opportunity for Bulgarian alumni who get accepted to a top U.S. graduate school. Following her graduation from AUBG with a major in Business Administration, Yana has built a successful career in brand management.

What was your first job after AUBG? What have you been up to ever since? 

My first job after graduation was at a high-end retail project in Bulgaria. Actually, my best friend from AUBG invited me to join and work together. After that, I worked at an advertising agency until I was headhunted by Goodyear to join the office in Sofia. I’ve been with the company for eight years now and this experience has both given me the opportunity to grow in the organization, and to get an in-depth understanding of the industry. As a Consumer Brand Manager, I’ve been responsible for the full scope of marketing activities for the five tire brands offered on the local market.

What prompted you to pursue an MBA degree and why did you choose to apply to the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University in particular? 

Complexity and speed of business are ever increasing. It’s hard to stay abreast of the latest management practices and to develop strategic thinking while juggling a career. There is a limit to the things you learn on the job. I see the MBA as an opportunity to further develop a host of valuable skills - critical thinking, data analytics, and strategic analysis, while at the same time learn about the latest developments in business. It’s the experience that builds your managerial tool box for the next ten years and teaches you how to approach problems in a structured way many years down the road.

I applied to business school with significant work experience so I was only interested in one year MBA programs. The accelerated timeframe and format matched my preferences and life stage better. I applied to the top three one-year programs in the USA (Kellogg, Johnson and Goizueta). Fortunately, I got accepted in all of them. Johnson School of Management was my top choice because of the program structure, the school collaborative culture and the opportunity to explore classes across different Cornell programs. Moreover, they offered me the esteemed Forte Fellowship, which apart from the monetary award, comes with opportunities to develop my leadership potential. This particular scholarship is designed to support women in business and to accelerate their personal and professional growth. Coming from a predominantly male industry, I am excited to get the opportunity to work with other women looking to develop their leadership abilities and to make an impact.

What role would the Tchaprachikoff scholarship play in your academic and career development?

The Tchaprachikoff scholarship is such a great opportunity for AUBG graduates to continue to pursue quality education. Because the university already provides so much in terms of knowledge, skills and experience during our bachelor programs, this chance to keep developing with AUBG support reminds me of the well-known advertising slogan “the gift that keeps on giving.”

To pursue an MBA is not an easy decision. It involves many uncertainties and takes you out of your comfort zone. For me, the Tchaprachikoff scholarship helped alleviate the stress and risks surrounding such a major educational and life decision. Because of the support AUBG provides for further academic pursuits and career development through the Tchaprachikoff scholarship I am able to focus on the opportunities that lie ahead.

What would you advice other alumni who would like to use this scholarship opportunity in the future?

I will strongly encourage anybody to go for it! There is no one way to manage personal growth and career development. The Tchaprachikoff scholarship offers great support if the way forward for you is through the educational system in the U.S. The application process is easy and the professionals at AUBG support you in any way possible.

Tell us a bit about your time at AUBG. In what ways have your AUBG education, experience, professors and friendships had an impact on your career and who you are today? Are you still in touch and collaborating with other AUBG graduates?

I cherish the time spent at AUBG.

First of all for the people I’ve met. Most of my closest friends I’ve met at the university. Our common academic and life experience contributed to developing a deeper bond and a set of shared values. I am really happy that 10 years later we keep supporting each other.

Additionally, my AUBG education certainly equipped me with solid knowledge, skills and attitudes to successfully pursue my career interests and professional development.

Interview by Dimana Doneva

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