Stefan and his son Maxim during their Ocean Row

Stefan Ivanov (’95), Who Crossed the Atlantic to Support Donor Transplantation

One hundred and five days at sea and 8230 kilometers from Portugal to Barbados – these are just the statistics behind the spectacular adventure of AUBG alumnus Stefan Ivanov (’95) and his 17-year-old son Maxim. For over three months, people in Bulgaria were closely following the Neverest Ocean Row of Stefan and Max who, without prior experience, set out to cross the Atlantic on a self-made boat. The father and son's trans-Atlantic sailing ended successfully in October and they are now back in Sofia and working to further advance the cause behind their initiative – raising awareness and recruiting donors for the organ transplant program Yes for Life!

“The closest person is in space, and not on land” — that is how Maxim described sailing through the ocean to Radio Free Europe. And while the two were physically alone at sea, many people helped the success of the mission, Stefan said. Among them was his wife, Zhenie Ivanova (’95) – also an AUBG alumna -- who “was doing all the communications, all the worrying, all the planning, the rescuing operations.” 

Even beyond the Neverest Ocean Row, Stefan’s life could be described as an adventure. After completing his MBA at the prestigious Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management, he began trading derivates first with the New York Stock Exchange and then with bank Paribas. After that, he got “an offer he could not refuse.” Citibank invited him to their global emerging markets management associate program, which meant that he would study banking and work in countries like Tunisia, Brazil, South Korea, and the UK. In 2001, he was appointed Chief of Staff for CEO of Citibank in Brazil, where he spent five years, before coming back to Sofia as the CEO of Citibank’s Bulgarian branch.


After 13 years with the bank, Stefan changed the course again to become an entrepreneur, co-founding the investment banking boutique Challenger Capital Management. Read our interview with him to learn more about his sailing adventure, his exciting career in finance, his cause in support of donor transplantation, and his connection to AUBG.