Zlati Dimitrov, Senior Business Controller at Paysafe: Find ‘a place where mistakes are a tool for learning, not for punishment’
Business Administration major at AUBG, Zlati Dimitov ('10) has substantial experience in finance. He has worked at Ernst and Young and OMV, among others, and says that he has found his place -- both personally and professionally -- as senior business controller at Paysafe Group. Read the interview to learn more about the Bulgarian alumnus' experience upon graduation, his connection to AUBG, and why he believes that one has to find an environment where they are free to make mistakes.
What was your first job after AUBG? What has happened in your professional life since?
I have started my career in the audit in EY in 2010. Back then, the finance labor market was a bit tougher than what we see today in Sofia. I have spent 2 years in a place where you can learn a lot about accounting and finance risk. Then I moved to consulting and worked on several oil and gas projects in Europe. That experience helped me grow my project management skills and attention to business processes. After four years in the consulting industry, I felt that my place is within the business where I can spend more time creating value and help a company grow its business. So, in 2015 I joined Paysafe.
What are your current responsibilities as Senior Business Controller there and what do you enjoy about your job?
The backbone of controlling is to make sure that the figures reported to the market are 100% correct and from there to build a function which supports the business on many levels such as finance partnering on key projects, industry and product analysis, regulatory reporting and business risk management. Our team mission is to translate the numbers’ story to the top management and propose initiatives which will move the business one step closer to the end goal.
In Paysafe, I found the culture that matches me both as a professional and as a person. We work in a very dynamic industry and to be on top, we need our people to think fast and generate new ideas. Here we empower people to put their ideas into reality and see how this reflects our business performance. After my first year at Paysafe I acknowledged the need for a controlling function and with the support of my manager we managed to create and shape it so that it can empower the business to take decisions faster than ever before. On top of that, we build our teams around diversity on every level (culture, gender, etc.) which helps us get different perspectives in the decision-making process. We bond that relationship through hiking events, sports or just going for a walk in the park. We treat our teams as family, helping each other when needed and [without] sugar coating when making mistakes.
In what ways did your AUBG education and experience boost your personal and professional development?
AUBG was a key milestone in my development as a person and mindset. The whole environment nurtures you to seek guidance and support from peers and faculty which is a major success factor in future career development. The mixture of people with different cultures is creating a diverse and competitive environment where you can learn from everyone and be able to form an opinion which ability will work for you and which will not.
What classes and/or extracurricular activities at AUBG had the most impact on you and why?
I believe that the most valuable area in AUBG are the extracurricular clubs. These are one of the places where you can build solid connections with colleagues and people from the industry you are interested in. I have taken a lot of interesting business classes which affected my perception of the real world. In addition, I have been part of sports clubs and this was the most valuable experience for me as I managed to create a lot of friends. If I must point out a single thing you should focus through the four-year-long journey, that would be creating a network with your peers and professors.
Are you still in touch and collaborating with other AUBG alumni and in what ways?
My whole career was marked by my strong connections built in AUBG which helped me get information about companies and their culture even before I apply for a specific position. The alumni network is so great that you can find an AUBG person in all the top companies all over the world. The insight you can get from alumni is a key part of the career decision-making process. Of course, having AUBG alumni all over the world helps you feel like home when traveling abroad and need someone to drink a beer with and talk about the good old times in Blago.
What advice would you give to the recently graduated Class of 2020 on achieving personal and professional fulfilment?
The most important thing is to have the right mindset and choose the environment that suits your needs. You should be open minded and ready to learn a lot and fast, forget about the “I know-it-all-attitude”. When choosing a company, ask about the team you will be working with and ask about the company’s culture. In order to grow, you will need an environment close to the one in AUBG, competitive, open to new ideas and initiatives, and a place where mistakes are a tool for learning, not for punishment.