To Chicago and Back, Part Three: BostonOctober 16, 2019
In a series of four short stories, we will travel across the United States to discover what makes AUBG a unique place -- both in the region and across the ocean. Together with several AUBG representatives, I visited Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Boston Sept. 12-21 to connect with prospective students and AUBG graduates living in the States. Last week I shared my experience meeting with the AUBG alumni in Atlanta and New York. Now it's time to tell you all about the time we spent in Boston.
New York downtown. On the road to Boston. Dynamo Software Corporate Headquarters.
I could not believe that the large modern building in front of us used to be a factory. I was even more surprised when we got inside: the warm and cozy interior reminded me of a home rather than an office. But I found it fitting that it is precisely this space that hosts Dynamo Software – an innovative global provider of software with over 220 employees on four continents.
The way that Krassen Draganov ('96), founder & chief product officer at the company, welcomed us, matched the atmosphere of the place. Wearing a huge smile and busy with preparing the snacks and drinks for the evening, he greeted us as dear "long time, no see" friends.
The room soon started filling up with people – alumni who were happy to reunite and eager to meet us and hear all about AUBG. Interim President Dr. David Evans thanked our generous host and offered an overview of the recent developments at the university.
Giorgi Mariamidze ('09) from Georgia, who is currently pursuing an MBA degree at Harvard Business School (HBS), spoke about his career. "After graduating from AUBG, I spent nine years in the financial services back home in Georgia - central bank, insurance and microfinance," he said. Giorgi was a CFO at a leading insurer in Georgia and CEO of a midsize microfinance institution. He has just completed his internship with Bain & Company in the Middle East and has returned to the States for his second year of MBA at HBS.
I interviewed several other AUBG alumni who talked about their AUBG experience and career path after graduation:
Krassen Draganov ('96)
Major: Business Administration
Dynamo Software, Founder & Chief Product Officer
One of the many things I learned at AUBG is to keep in touch with fellow students and alumni because the university is like a sieve – it prescreens the people. The second – when a person has the chance, they need to make an effort to move forward and should know that the sky is the limit.
One of the milestones for me during my studies at AUBG was the summer of 2005 when I came to the U.S .on a Work and Travel program. I realized two things – one, that the States are a great place to live in, but if you don't start at the right level, it would be challenging to climb up the ladder. This is why when I returned, I studied hard and achieved high results on GMAT. Thanks to that, I was accepted with a full scholarship at a university in the States, where I pursued my master's degree. This allowed me to move to Boston College, where I graduated with a degree in finance. This, on another hand, helped me do an internship in a private equity fund for three years.
During the time spent there, I was inspired to start Dynamo Software. Actually, another AUBG alum complemented the founding team of Dynamo. So it was the two of us, both AUBG graduates, who founded the company – I was responsible for the business here, and my partner – for the operations in Bulgaria. And this continues till now – for 19 years already. At the moment, I am still one of the key people at Dynamo and we move the company forward – 220 people are working for the company on four continents. My advice to current students is to have different perspectives on the world, try more than one thing and always look at the bright side of things because this positivism and enthusiasm will allow them to achieve things that are under their control. So, study hard, work hard – and with persistence and a bit of luck – the sky is the limit.
The most important things to be successful are: first, the educational background – whether you have been taught to fight and move forward. The second thing is persistence. Many people are surprised when they hear about Dynamo's success – but this is a result of 19 years of work. Otherwise, things would not have happened. I would like to address the AUBG alumni with the following – do not forget where we started from, AUBG was a trampoline for us and it helped us when we needed help. Now is time for us to help and support the university that has done so many things for us. Everybody can support the university within their means, but it would be great if more people remember, connect and help the university with whatever they can.
Adriana Mincheva ('97)
Major: Computer science; Minor: Fine arts
Consultant, Federal Aviation Administration
I came to Massachusetts to pursue a Master's degree in Computer Science because I received a scholarship. After graduation, I stayed here and started working for a company that produces diodes. We programmed them. After three years, I changed my career and my new job was related to dealing with aviation data. So it was a completely new field for me, but I embraced this opportunity because I have had this desire to work for the aviation industry for a long time. Half of the company was developing consumer products; the other half was involved in state projects as consultants. So at the end of my internship, I moved to the state projects part. This turned out to be my career for the last 12 – 13 years: I work for the Federal Aviation Administration as a consultant. My duties are mainly related to project management, but because I possess a lot of technical skills, I quite often do data analysis.
If I have to go back to my AUBG years, I really loved the fact that the university is located in Blagoevgrad. This helped me become more independent; I managed to find summer jobs at the university, so I stayed there over the summer as well– which I liked a lot because I love being self-dependent and developing myself, it helped me become more confident.
Blagoevgrad became my family. My friends nowadays are all from my university years. So – my social circle here is very much related to my experience at AUBG. I am very grateful for that because it worked as a filter – not only because everyone at AUBG is very smart, but because AUBG people are very ambitious and open-minded. The fact that there were students from so many different countries played a key role in my success here. For me, it was a real eye-opener having the chance to communicate with a diverse group of people, with people about who I knew nothing but the stereotypes, having a chance to see and feel that they are the same as me – this is something I believe here is very important.
I think that AUBG is an incredible opportunity for everyone. The American style of education is much more flexible; it is student-centered, the university offers abundancy of activities to participate in – the musical, the clubs. These activities initiated by the students are a unique experience that gives them a chance to express themselves outside of class. Life is getting more dynamic and the need for people with a broader set of skills in increasing – nowadays you cannot be good at just one thing, ore knowledgeable in one field, that's why I believe the liberal arts education is the key to success.
Viktor Vasilev ('07)
Majors: Business Administration and Economics
Owner of a consultant firm
After graduation, I worked for a brief time in Sofia and decided to move to the States where I continued to work in the financial sphere. One of the most valuable lessons I learned at AUBG is to be persistent. My advice to current students is to study hard and receive good grades because they help. Also – try new things and find the one that best suits you, the one that you like the most. I would like to encourage AUBG alumni to stay in touch, to attend events like this one, to meet frequently, exchange experience and knowledge.
Nikolay Petkov ('07)
Major: Computer Science
Software engineer manager
I moved to the States almost immediately after graduation. In my last job, my boss – he used to work for Telerik – already knew things about Bulgaria, AUBG, because many, actually almost 90% of the personnel, back in 2011 were AUBG graduates. I really cherish this can-do attitude I acquired at AUBG, no matter the task – there is always a way. This is what I learned – if you are persistent in something, you will be successful.
Woke up at 4 a.m. to get to the airport. No tips for Boston, dear readers, I didn't have the chance to walk around. Wait a minute… I did actually see downtown Boston while travelling on our way to have dinner with Boriana Zaneva ('00). In a normal situation, one would hate traffic jams, but this crazy-long carline presented me with the opportunity to do a bit of window sightseeing. The bigger present I received, though, was the conversation with Boriana on the science of human behavior. Boriana is a well-known positive psychology consultant and speaker, and I look forward to attending her upcoming class on Leadership and Positive Psychology on Nov. 8-9, 2019, in Elieff Center for Education and Culture in Sofia. I'll update you on our Chicago trip in a week.
Story by Albena Kehayova