Elena Drecheva is Managing Director at Konica Minolta. She is a professional with more than 20 years experience in the technology sector, leading during both periods of explosive growth and in times of economic crisis. Elena believes that continual learning, empowering people, and building strong teams achieves success. She shares that the values she professes at Konica Minolta are focused on the customer, cooperation, Innovation, and business thinking.
Greetings to Elena Drecheva, Managing Director at Konica Minolta. Elena believes that positive thinking and approach are the catalysts of success. Elena loves her profession very much and this helps her a lot to not be in dilemmas. Her rule, which she has managed to build over the years, is that when she is at work she is 100% dedicated to her tasks and respectively when she is with her family – the attention should be entirely for them. Elena shares that the values she confesses at Konica Minolta are Focus on the Customer, Cooperation, Acceptance of the Different, Innovation, Business Thinking and Working in a Digital Environment. Elena is always guided by three main selection criteria and they are education and energy of the person, knowledge and experience. The first criteria for it are mandatory, and the other two depend on the position. According to her, we can always benefit from a situation, no matter whether it’s a positive one or not. She adds that crises fasten positive changes and make us achieve greater results. Elena shares that she’s met challenges with stereotypes that technologies aren’t appropriate for women, but after a conversation and a few meetings mistrust vanishes. She adds that her personal story is proof that everything depends on us and we have to try hard to get over misunderstandings, anxiety and stereotypes. According to Elena, the gender inequality problem still exists in Bulgaria and globally. She’s the opposite of quotas because she thinks they lead to discrimination. To Elena, the main criteria should be knowledge and abilities, not gender. To her, the solution for this is hidden in the culture of companies, where we have to work daily with the aim to achieve equality. Elena adds that she always aims to surround herself with people who are open and honest, have sparked in their eyes, are ready to work in a team and accept challenges with enthusiasm.
“I think that crises speed up the positive changes and make us achieve greater results.”
High or low shoes?
Both, depending on the occasion.
Which is THE thing you never go out without?
A phone and a small diary with a pen.
Favourite lipstick colour?
Which is the feminine quality/duty that you don’t possess?.
Which cause are you currently supporting?
I support causes connected to taking care of kids and elders. I personally support SOS kids villages and programs for design thinking in Red Plane – the tax for a teacher on a school basis.
Share something about yourself that we can’t find on LinkedIn.
I believe positive thinking and attitude are the catalysts of luck. We can always benefit from a situation, no matter whether it’s a good one or not. I think crises speed up the positive changes and make us achieve greater results. I support the ideas of my teams and always enter each new project with enthusiasm and energy.
Read More Inspiring Stories for Women in Tech in WRTech here.
Have you ever faced challenges in your career regarding the fact that you are a woman?
I have encountered challenges and they have associated with stereotypes that technology is not a strong area for women, but after a conversation and some meetings, mistrust disappears. It is very much up to us to make an effort to overcome misunderstandings, worries and/or stereotypes, as evidenced by my personal history. I was 28 years old, unmarried when I applied for the position to lead Konica Minolta in Bulgaria. This caused a little concern among the people who had already settled on me then and I think that’s justified. I was about to get married, have children and take care of my family, and I had to develop a company almost to the core in Bulgaria. I assured them that I can take responsibility and I can manage. I kept my word and I am grateful to them for trusting me.
Do you know how many women work in your position?
The statistics of women managing positions in Technological companies in Bulgaria are around 20% of the overall percentage. But I have no information on other sectors.
“I have encountered challenges and they have associated with stereotypes that technology is not a strong area for women, but after a conversation and some meetings, mistrust disappears. It is very much up to us to make an effort to overcome misunderstandings, worries and/ or stereotypes.”
Do you think that the problem with gender inequality still exists in Bulgaria and globally?
Unfortunately, it is still relevant around the world and to some extent in Bulgaria too. Attempts to solve this problem through mandatory quotas for women have not been successful. I am personally opposed to quotas because they also lead to discrimination. Leading should be the criteria of knowledge and abilities, not gender. My solution is the culture of companies – there is a need to work daily towards equality and diversity, equal flexible working hours for women and men raising children and/or caring for parents, internal sponsorship programs for young talent and other such initiatives.
Which policies does your company follow regarding encouraging diversity?
One of the values of our company is to Embrace diversity – I accept and am positive about the differences. I’m not judging, I’m trying to understand. I create an environment that is inclusive. Our company has various initiatives in terms of promoting diversity, but I will pay attention to two of them: Technology Innovation Program (TIP) – a program in which participation is optional and subject to technological innovation, with a competitive element. Thus, the teams have a variety of people in different positions, from different countries. The end products of the work of these teams are always impressive. We also have a program for the mobility of employees from different countries – vacancies are announced internally and everyone has the opportunity to participate, regardless of their physical location.
How do you get along with men in your company? Do they treat you differently?
I think that the way others treat you depends on yourself. I feel confident in myself and know what I know, I’m open for communication with people and have no prejudice that I have to be liked by everyone. My position requires saying “no” and separating from people who don’t share my cultural values. In my work there isn’t, or at least I haven’t noticed, a different attitude towards me. The reason for that is that we work with educated people, to whom what’s important is the personality, not the gender. (that’s our basic criteria for employing)
How do you balance your work life with your personal life? Is there any rule that you follow?
I love my profession very much and it helps me a lot not to be in dilemmas. The rule I’ve built over the years is simple – whatever I do I stay focused on it. When I am at work I am 100% with my tasks and accordingly, when I am with my family – the attention is entirely on them. I have my personal escape and this is swimming, which charges my mind and body even in the evening after everyone falls asleep – reading books.
Do a woman’s vision and charm help her be successful in a professional way?
It works in both directions. Depends on who’s sitting next to you, but in most cases, it helps. A positive attitude and good energy are more important, as you can always distinguish them in a conversation (a term from NLP – two people are in a rapport which means they have the same vibe).
Which sources would you recommend to us? (podcasts, webpages, influencers, YouTubers, etc.)
Alumni group from Standford and IMD of IDEO U
George Gospodinov – https://www.facebook.com/georgi.gospodinov.503
Haruki Monakami – https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=Haruki%20Murakami
As an answer to the challenges of the new business building, Konica Minolta develops the conception of the digital workplace of the future. How does it look and are the companies in Bulgaria ready to start working this way?
Our concept is an Intelligently Connected Workplace. It looks like this: no matter where we are physical, authorized digital data access in the company with a few clicks, digital processes, easy and convenient collaboration with colleagues, partners and customers, automation that saves us time and reduces errors, visualization of the important information for us in a convenient form for analysis.
And yes, I think that not many of the companies in Bulgaria are ready to work this way. Circumstances also require the introduction of this type of workplace in order to ensure the stability and duration of the business.
Which values do you follow in Konica Minolta in Bulgaria?
The values are: Focusing on the client, Collaboration, Accepting the Difference, Innovation, Business Thinking and Working in a Digital Environment.
You soon took part in the global discussional panel of Konica Minolta about International Women’s Day, the aim of which was to celebrate the achievements of women in the organization. What are your management methods for encouraging diversity of the company and how do you apply your encouraging diversity for all of your employees?
I am always guided by three main selection criteria and they are education and energy of the person, knowledge and experience. The first criterion is mandatory, the other two depend on the position. I am careful to surround myself with people who are open and honest, have sparked in their eyes, are ready to work in a team and accept challenges with enthusiasm. To support diversity we have introduced a Talent Program, and equality of colleagues we provide by providing the opportunity to participate in our selections (first we look inside the organization), the opportunity to openly share their ideas and sponsorship to the best, we constantly promote a culture of diversity and acceptance of differences.
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