Desislava Avramova is a Development Manager at Sap Labs Bulgaria. She is a brave, positive, communicative and adventurous woman. The company she works for is extremely active in the area of diversity and gender equality. They have regular initiatives and activities for attracting and developing women in their careers.

Desislava Avramova is а Development Manager at SAP Labs Bulgaria, an adventure-seeker and an adrenaline-sports lover. She thinks that we need to feel as good in our comfort zone as outside of it so that we can see how easy it gets to make an achievement. Combining her personal and professional life was easy for her because right from the beginning she turned her hobby into her job. She loves what she’s doing, and she does not put any limits or hard stops on these two parts. Her recommendation is to stay curious and always set goals so big that you can’t achieve them until you grow into the person who can. SAP Labs Bulgaria is very active in the area of diversity and gender equality because it has regular initiatives and activities for attracting and developing women in their careers. Desi thinks that in most cases, by nature, women are very caring and family-oriented and this is how they drive their business too. It happens on a subconscious level and it gives great results. She also adds that we should not forget that each skill, quality, and characteristic of an individual is a product of many complex influences and experiences throughout our whole life and in most cases, it has nothing to do with our gender. And the “charm”, by no doubt, always works. The biggest inspiration in her professional life is her team. There is no bigger booster for her than their success and growth, professionally and personally. However, she shared with us that it was not always sunny. Sometimes her team had to go through very difficult moments together but at the end of the day the good stuff, the mutual respect and support are what remains in their memories. Her strong will, great communication skills and ability to influence, motivate, energize and inspire people brought her to the position of Development Manager at SAP Labs Bulgaria. She likes to pave the roads in areas that are not so well explored and settled and lead her team through this amazing journey.

“You need to feel as good in your comfort zone as outside of it and then you see how easy it gets to make an achievement. There is nothing to fear but the fear itself.”

Can you share something specific about you that we can’t find on LinkedIn?

I am a fan of sports that make your heart beat fast and your blood run cold such as balloon rides, submarine diving, aquaplaning, all-terrain vehicles racing, swimming among stingrays, mantas and sharks or horses and camel rides. You need to learn to take risks and the consequences of your decisions. You need to feel as good in your comfort zone as outside of it and then you see how easy it gets to make an achievement. There is nothing to fear but the fear itself.

Have you encountered any challenges in your career in connection to being a woman?

Of course, I did. One of the most memorable cases was about 10 years ago. I was already a Global Leader of a unit and there was an escalation with a very important customer. They insisted on having an on-site workshop on their premises with the presence of the manager on our side to speed up the decision-making. I was the first to arrive in the meeting room as I wanted to make a technical check of the equipment and be sure that all works as expected. Then all the rest joined, and I suggested that we are complete, and we could start. Right at this moment the manager from the customer side looked at me and said “Well miss, we cannot start because we are expecting the Global Leader to join and he has not arrived yet. But if you don’t mind in the meantime you can bring us one more pot of coffee”. I guess that he perceived me as the coffee or the facility lady. You can imagine how awkward it got when I explained that “he” is “she” and it is actually “me”. But this did not prevent us from signing the deal and doing a great job together.

Do you know how many women work in your position?

Not enough.

Do you think that the problem of gender inequality is still relevant in Bulgaria and globally?

I think that this is a big topic and we cannot give a straight answer right away. I can say that in Bulgaria and globally we have made huge steps in providing equal opportunities for all genders. The matter gets very complicated when it comes to the point of psychological perceptions, prejudices and ideas which are driven by families, societies, religions. We still have a long way to go.

Which policies does your company encourage regarding gender diversity?

My company is very active in this area. We have regular initiatives and activities for attracting and developing women in their careers. We also strive for gender parity year over year.

Do your male colleagues treat you differently?

I truly believe that the way people treat you depends more on who you are as an individual and not on your gender. The determinator of professional relationships is a quite broad blend of skills you have, and your gender is not on the list.

Do you think that a woman’s appearance and charm affect their professional success? (example: does it make communication easier?)

I think that males and females have strengths that complement each other very well. Indeed, women are good at structuring, organizing, having a plan, setting the direction, and communicating all this. In most cases, by nature, women are very caring and family-oriented and this is how they drive their business too. It happens on a subconscious level and it gives great results. But we should not forget that each skill, quality, and characteristic of an individual is a product of many complex influences and experiences throughout their whole life and in most cases, it has nothing to do with their gender. And the “charm”, no doubt it always works.

Read More Inspiring Stories for Women in Tech in WRTech here.

How do you combine personal and professional life? Do you have any rules that you follow?

It is very easy for me because I turned my hobby into my job. I love what I do, and I do not put any limits or hard stops on these two parts. I think that this significantly decreases stress levels and increases satisfaction. I surround myself with people with similar visions and attitudes towards life and business and thus I get support and understanding. It definitely helps.

Which sources do you follow and can you recommend some of them to our audience? (example: podcasts, pages, influencers, vloggers, etc)

I am very curious and I am open to all sources so I would not recommend any in particular. My recommendation is – Stay curious and always set goals so big that you can’t achieve them until you grow into the person who can.

“I think that males and females have strengths which complement each other very well.”

Can you share some key moments from your career?

I guess that the game-changer in my career happened when I was driving an IT Security related Project in a bank as a side-hobby project while my real job there was related to Project Management of finance projects. One day my manager at that time came to me and said “Look, I see that the job you are doing for the IT Security topic is outstanding and you do it with such eagerness and fluency that it is amazing. I would like you to take over the role of Head of our IT Governance Unit. What would you say?”. No need to say that I was scared but excited too. I have always thought that I can take over a unit like Risk Management or Bad Credits unit etc. but I have never considered changing the domain. When I slept over it, I realized that being offered the chance to do something which you love doing in your free time is the offer of your life. The other great thing which came into my career was the opportunity to work in multinational companies and manage global teams all around the world. This made me realize that the sky’s the limit and that there are indeed cultural differences but there are more similarities among the people from all around the world.

If we could turn back in time what is the advice you would give to yourself? 

I would have advised myself that I can only win if my will to succeed is bigger than my fear of failing. Young professionals should know that God loves the brave. There is absolutely no guarantee for success for anything in life and you need simply to learn to take risks and go for the things you really believe are worth the effort.

What inspires you in your professional and personal plan?

The biggest inspiration in my professional life – this is my team. There is no bigger booster for me than watching them succeed and grow, both professionally and personally. I cannot even find the words to express how rewarded and satisfied I feel when I look back and see all those people who grew from junior to senior roles in my teams and all along the way we have celebrated marriages, new-born babies, first baby teeth, first school days, first teenage love of their kids and many other memorable events. Well, it was not always sunny. Sometimes we had to go through very difficult moments together overcoming devastating divorces, loss of beloved people and sickness times. But at the end of the day the good stuff, the mutual respect and support is what remains in our memories. In the personal aspect, the biggest inspiration for me comes from my beloved friends. They are my rock and my safe place. We brainstorm ideas and dreams together. I also get huge inspiration and wisdom from the lectures of some gurus and wisdom teachers. It is always motivating and energizing to see the success stories of people around you too.

What are your hobbies?

Apart from the list of extreme sports, I like walking in the park with good company, swimming, reading and spending time with loved ones. Tell us more about your experience. During the last 13 years, I have been taking leadership and senior leadership positions in areas like IT Governance, ITSM, SLM and Reporting Onboarding, Presales, Solution Architecture, User Acceptance Testing, Validation and Operational Readiness Review, Project Management and Development. I have the unique opportunity to work in great companies and build high performing teams. I like to pave the roads in areas that are not so well explored and settled and lead my teams through this amazing journey. We are creating brand new products and services and we are delighted to serve our customers’ business needs.

Favourite clothes?

Those which fit for the occasion.

High heels or flat shoes?

High heels – you need to go a bit up to see the big picture.

Which typical female quality or household responsibility does not apply to you?

Emotional outbursts and cooking simply do not resonate with me somehow.

What is THE thing that you must have in your bag when going out?

A Credit card and cash.

Favourite lipstick colour?

Natural lips colour.

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