For our fourth edition of dxSpotlight, we sat down with Petya Dapkova, VP Sales Administration at Devexperts. This is a conversation that spans her career path, the impact of social causes in her life, and how her culturally diverse experience shaped her as a professional and leader.
You have studied and worked in Berlin for years until deciding to move back to Bulgaria. What made you come back to your home country?
Yes, I have graduated International Business in Berlin and then worked for about 5 years for a media company. I have been lucky with how my career grew, as when I was leaving the company, I headed both marketing and sales departments globally, the latter built from scratch.
However, I was under 30 and had a passion for social projects and initiatives. With my corporate job, endlessly living out of a suitcase, and busy schedules, it was impossible to do any side pro bono projects. So, I decided that back then was the moment to quit the corporate job for a while and dedicate some time to my passion.
I came back to Sofia and with two other enthusiasts, we built a little library in the heart of Sofia that is celebrating its sixth anniversary this year.
If you want to sneak a peek, here it is: https://www.chitalnyata.bg
In the end, I decided that I felt better in my motherland, so I stayed.
Do you believe that your experience abroad has greatly impacted your worldview? In what way does that translate to the work you do now?
Most definitely. I have been dealing with direct sales since the start of my career. The places and people my work has taken me to greatly shaped my life perception, understanding and acceptance of cultural differences, both personally and business-wise. I strongly believe that exploring and experiencing distant cultures make us realize that differences are not that different and that there is so much to learn from each other.
As VP Sales Administration at Devexperts, what do you find to be the biggest challenges in your work?
The biggest challenge is the balance between the company’s strategy, direction, and resources with the dynamic market demand that is giving birth to new client’s directions, strategies, and instruments constantly. The good part is that we are an extremely flexible organization that reacts timely and according to the demands of the clients and the markets.
What do you love about your job and what drove you to work in Sales?
I love my job for its diversity and dynamics. Sales is a field that is really interesting as the department interacts with all other business units in the company and most importantly directly with the clients. From marketing, pr, engineering, account management, legal, and finance sales have an interface.
I am also really interested in observing the demands of our clients and supporting the process on how we find ways to deliver proper solutions that help to start, scale, or shoot their business to another dimension.
What do you think steps apart Devexperts from other companies in the same line of business?
We have accumulated enormous know-how and top expertise in the field of capital markets since we work with a lot of trendsetting companies. Hence, we are always on top of what’s next when the market shifts. On top of that, I believe that we are trustworthy and loyal partners to our clients. Always striving to deliver excellence, in the best way, at the best cost and time. We are well respected for that and the amount of referral business we receive is yet another confirmation that we are doing it right.
We know you have a distributed team all around the world. What strategies do you use to keep your whole team engaged?
The capital markets industry is booming at the moment with the unprecedented growth of new traders who want to take part. The sales team is processing 30+ inquiries per week, some qualified, others not. In general, the level of engagement is very high. Also, we have some large-scale clients on which we work on, so we are at full capacity.
What does leadership mean to you personally?
For me personally, the most important attributes of a leader are vision, willingness to walk the line together with the team and, of course, to lead by example.
Digital transformation is something that interests you greatly, especially at large corporations. What do you think are the main challenges that big organizations face when going through a digital transformation process?
I have observed such transformations from inside of large organizations and as a vendor to such. Even if there is a clear vision for digital transformation, assigned budgets, teams, and project ideas, the most important ingredient is selling the initiative internally.
The main challenge is to change the mindset of the leadership and the teams. People generally dislike going outside their comfort zone and digitalizing processes and business units requires a temporary absence of comfort but promises optimization and efficiency for the long run.
It is no secret how passionate you are about social entrepreneurship and social and cultural projects. Where do you feel that side of you comes from? How did that passion start?
I am deeply passionate about social causes. Unfortunately, at the moment I do not have much time to dedicate to such because of my work and my little daughter Yavora (the name means Maple tree).
I am a strong believer that there should be balance in life in all aspects. Social projects are exactly that lack of balance in the supply of services/goods in certain areas. Personally, I find it inspirational if one can fill that gap.
Also, what I find is that few business people are engaged in social projects which creates deficiencies in the way organizations plan, organize, fund, market and sustain their projects. I believe that helping with know-how and network is something that everyone should dedicate to at least one social cause.
Your project The Reading Room is a cultural spot where literature is celebrated freely in a beautiful glass pavilion at the heart of Sofia. How does this project fuel your life and your work as a whole?
I am immensely proud of creating this space, as it was close to impossible when we first started. I find it inspiring as we have created a space where access to contemporary literature is literally for life with a free subscription. In terms of how this project fuels my life and work. Well, I would say that it only validated my incarnated belief that there is nothing impossible!
What were the books that changed your life?
I wouldn’t say there is a particular book that changed me or my life. Every book I read contributes to my knowledge, emotional intelligence, and life perspective. In any case, in recent years I could say that Harari affected me the most.