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The New Face of Bulgarian Business: Borislav Stefanov

AUBG graduate Borislav Stefanov is a man with a mission. He sat on a seven-person jury who selected the 2010 Business Person of the Year in Bulgaria and is committed to changing the deep-seated negative stereotype people in the region have people in business. His goal is to show that there are enough people in Bulgaria who have built sizeable enterprises through their own efforts, who enjoy what they are doing, and whose business helps their country.

Having lots of money, driving an expensive car, and taking your girlfriend to Bali does not automatically make you a businessman, Stefanov says.

Being a successful executive with a perfect record himself, Stefanov is uniquely placed to begin breaking that stereotype. He heads the Invest Bulgaria Agency, an agency whose mission is to “help potential and existing investors explore the investment opportunities in Bulgaria and carry out greenfield investment projects in the country.” His professional trajectory was shaped by his merits alone and includes postings all around the world. He was Customer Process Manager in DaimlerChrysler A.G., Dubai, after which he was a consultant in the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Moscow. Stefanov also worked for Lada Image as a Director in Sales and Strategy.

“Business is all about interaction with people. A good businessman must know when to be firm, when to be diplomatic, when to say what is on his mind and when not to,” Stefanov says. “But that is just the start. Knowing your business is, of course, critical as is being honest and transparent.” These are also part of the criteria according to which the business person of the year will be chosen.

Stefanov graduated from AUBG in 2001 with a double major in History and Business Administration. He says that the history courses he took with History Professor Evelina Kelbetcheva helped him learn how to structure his thought and be convincing, skills that were very useful afterwards. AUBG taught him how to communicate with people, how to deal with large amounts of information and organize his time. “Coming to think of it, days back then apparently were longer, otherwise I have no explanation how I managed to fit everything in 24 hours,” he admits.

Creating a firm foundation for his future academic development at AUBG, Stefanov later earned a master’s degree in International Management from Regent’s College London and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Borislav says that he “did not find [his] graduate studies much more difficult than those at AUBG.”

But business was Stefanov’s default career option. “If you choose the right career track, business gives you the opportunity to show the best part of your character, to learn and develop, to meet interesting people,” he explains. Stefanov thinks strategy and business administration are not so much about learning complicated theories as about applying basic skills and good judgment. However, he hasn’t abandoned the idea of moving to academia and is currently helping design a course in Strategic Management at a Sofia university.

Stefanov’s professional appointments have taken him all over the Northern Hemisphere and in every job he had he was part of a rich international community. It is thanks to AUBG that he felt at home in such communities. He explains: “Being immersed in this international environment 24/7 was certainly a great preparation for me to live and work in some of the cities with the most diverse population like London, Dubai, Boston and Moscow.”

AUBG offers a wide variety of classes and majors, which allow students to find their niches. Stefanov’s advice to students is to take their time in choosing a major, as “not only will you enjoy your studies more, but the major you choose will essentially define the course of your life after AUBG, so you better choose it wisely.” Finally, he recommends that students get a meaningful internship in order to jumpstart their careers after graduation.

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