Interview with Stanka Ranchev – Advisory Board Member At Career Club DK

Stanka Ranchev  is a Career Club DK Advisory Board Member, a Financial Coach at Your Kickass Money and an IT project management guru with experience leading technical teams at Fortune 50 and Fortune 100 companies for the past 12 years. 

How did you end up in Denmark and what part of the world do you originally come from?

I am originally from Bulgaria. I defied my parents and set myself up on a travel adventure with the clear goal to live in a different country every year. It was a crazy and wonderful adventure. Then I came to Denmark and as life would have it, many years later I am still here with my husband and two amazing girls. We like it here, and when people ask me if we have decided to stay, I say that we don’t have plans to move anywhere at the moment. It is this limbo that many expats live in – not deciding to stay, but also not planning to leave any time soon 
I came to Denmark with a suitcase full of summer cloths (mind you it was not summer weather) straight from sunny USA on a very short notice. I did absolutely no research about where I was moving to (very bold or crazy of me when I think about it in retrospect, hehe), but I jumped right into it. I don’t regret it one bit! I built a life for myself and my family here and we are staying for as long as we are happy here 🙂

How does work life balance look for you and how do you ‘manage it all’?

I don’t 🙂 To me, there is no such thing as balance, a true equilibrium. There is no point of time where everything is a hundred percent. There are always parts of my life that suffer a bit and need more attention than other. It is almost like juggling balls. What I have learned to do better is take care of myself while life is happening. I haven’t been always so great at it, but it definitely helps when I put my oxygen mask first. I prioritise being lazy, doing nothing, and not feeling guilty about it. It is important, so I able to give more of myself in all the other areas of my life. Being a parent takes up a lot of my mental space and time, but I value my time spent on things outside motherhood just as high.

Did Covid-19 reshape your work environment and your expectations towards employers?

It did and it didn’t in a way. I’ve always had a lot of freedom to decide my own tasks and time and was used to working from home even before the pandemic. Many of the people I worked with, were not in Denmark and we connect online. I was still at Novo Nordisk when Covid hit and it was quite stressful transitioning to full time work from home, having a husband going through the same, and two small kids off from daycare. It didn’t help that I was in the middle of running two projects, having important deadlines, standard challenges with collaboration and colleagues dealing with the same change of everything in their lives. All of a sudden, it was a shit show at home trying to survive in a new reality. Slowly we managed to find our new normal and some balance and we adjusted to the new way of doing things. The first two months were very hard. I am trying to erase this time from my memory :). What came out of this experiment for me and my family was having some deeper reflexions on what’s important to us and how we want our days to look like.

What is the typical career path for someone in your position?

When it comes to IT project management, it has a very structured career path once you enter corporate. However, there are hardly any study programs that focus on this. At most, there are single subjects or certification programs out there. But the businesses really value this skills set and knowledge and have realised they need to build and educate the talent themselves.  I am naturally a very organised and driven person and putting chaos into order is my super power. So I slowly started focusing more on tasks in my job that required these skills and pursued opportunities that went towards the PM career track. I have both business and IT educations and the combination of the two made it very easy to find my spot in this field. It is quite rare to combine the two – most people come either from a business or an IT background, but the companies really value the intersection and this is where there are many talent gaps. It is hard for the management to understand and talk to the technical people and vice versa. So I came in as the translator and ambassador for the two groups.
How I entered into financial coaching is also an interesting transition. I really enjoyed the coaching and mentoring part of my teams and wanted to focus more on that. Also as part of managing projects, I developed tools and techniques to manage the finances and budgeting for large investments. Combining the two seemed like a very natural transition. It also had a personal meaning to me due to my own money journey.

In your experience, how easy/difficult is it to build a career in Denmark as a foreign?

Depending on where you come from, it could be easy or not. Unfortunately, there are many conscious and also subconscious biases that play a role in this. I realise that I am lucky in that I am a white educated female in the IT world. So yes, it was fairly easy for me to find my spot. For someone else with a different color, race or personality, it could be harder. But it doesn’t mean that it should stop you. Quite the opposite, it should be that much more motivating to defy the odds and get out there. When there is a will, there is a way – I strongly believe in this and we all write our own story. Start networking, search for help with your CV, ask for feedback. There are many things to do and take actions, instead of leaning back and being discouraged. I love how the Danish work culture allows you to speak up and express your opinion. I hate hierarchy and I am glad this is kept to a minimum here.

Were there any chocking aspects of the Danish working culture that you wish you were aware of earlier?

How fast everyone eats lunch. It feels like Danes almost inhale it and quickly go back to work. I wish that lunch time could be a bit more laid back and relaxing. But I get it why they do it – they just want to get off work earlier and be with their families. The other thing is how friends, family and work colleagues are kept separate. In many other cultures, there is a lot more intimate relationship with colleagues. I feel there is this invisible barrier here and work is kept very separate from personal life.

What career aspirations do you have for the future?

Just exploring all parts of me 🙂 I am focusing on my financial coaching business, doing IT consultancy, working on building a startup too. I might or might not decide to join a company again, who knows. But what I like being in this mind-space is that I am allowing myself to explore and be creative in ways I haven’t so far. My career has always been lean and structured. It is quite the opposite now, but that’s actually what I like about it 🙂 My creative, energy, and desire to explore new things have spiked exponentially. It is a very interesting place to be in.

If you could go back, would you make different career choices and why?
Absolutely not. Every decision and choice made brought me to the place where I am at now. It all makes sense and looking back, I can connect the dots. I love all the lessons I’ve learned (some of them the hard way) and appreciate the personal growth that came with them. Every decision I make was based on the information I had available at that moment.

Interviewee

stanka-ranchev-career-club-dk-advisory-board-member

Stanka Ranchev

Advisory Board Member at Career Club DK 

Financial Coach

Website: www.yourkickassmoney.com

Connect with Stanka on LinkedIn!

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