3 July, 2019
There and Back Again: Aleksandar Stoimenov and Varna

Starting from scratch, building something new and being proud of yourself for trying – these are just some of the things me and Sasho (Aleksandar Stoimenov) spoke about. He shared his experience with relocating to Varna with ScaleFocus’ program – what made him go, what urged him to come back and what remains with him from the time spent there – read below.

You are one of the people from ScaleFocus who jumped head-first in the Relocation Program. What made you do it?

Two things motivated me – first, it was Varna. I grew up in Sofia, but Varna is the other Bulgarian city I’ve always liked. In my younger years I wanted to study in Varna University and live there for a while but it did not happen. But I’ve always had a great sense of the city and so I decided to relocate there through ScaleFocus’ program.  The other reason that helped me decide to relocate was the chance to develop myself further professionally.

You relocated with your whole family. How did they feel about it?

I went there two weeks ahead of them to prepare things before they arrived. For my at the time two-year old daughter it was as if nothing really changed – she was happy to be with us and she was having fun as usual with her toys and the world around, as well as the sea, of course. It was a little bit harder for my wife because I was very preoccupied with work, I had a lot of social contacts with the team as well as with outside agencies, institutions. I was responsible for building a new team there. My wife spent most of her time alone with the child, although I took her with me to gatherings every chance I got. She told me at one point in the beginning she wasn’t feeling great in Varna. Later she started loving it there and when we talked about leaving because of her second pregnancy, she shared  that she will really miss it there. We lived there for about seven months. The plan was to stay for at least a year, but there were unforeseen circumstances.

Did you have an experience in Varna that you think would not have happened to you in Sofia?

Absolutely. Professionally I had the unique opportunity to start from scratch. I became Site Lead in Varna and had to develop the office there as well as the team. I was the first person to start, more people came later and we all joined forces to create something special. It was hard in the beginning – and a person learns a lot about himself in the process of developing something new. We actually cleaned the office ourselves, took out the trash and did everything to achieve a great space while at the same time we worked and developed as a team. My goal was to cultivate the right attitude in the team so that people can bond. Also, to support them by giving them a sense of security and help them lower stress in the new endeavor they were joining.

I really believe we created a great team which now, after my coming back to Sofia continues to work and develop without me.

Another experience that was pivotal for me was the opportunity to live in a city where the atmosphere is a lot calmer. When your city is calmer, you become calmer too. We lived centrally and close to the office, we avoided traffic jams and the daily stress in Sofia and the whole rhythm of life was different. And… you are by the sea. Different smells and views, different types of people, different spirit.

What did Varna give you as a professional and as a person?

What I loved the most was the opportunity to take upon a different kind of responsibility from the beginning. In Sofia, in the working environment I showed more of my mellow and fun side.

In Varna I had to act differently and step into the shoes of someone who was more assertive and had to act in a way I hadn’t before.

I had to prove myself to others and to myself, I had to upgrade myself, so to speak, and do things I hadn’t done before. It’s like jumping in water without being sure you know how to swim and it’s actually really valuable.

In Sofia, I had all the support and in Varna, I was the one people looked at for support. The most important part for me was creating something and growing with it from the beginning. To transfer things I know are working from Sofia to Varna and upgrade with the help of your team. And we did it.

What made you come back to Sofia?

The second pregnancy of my wife was the reason we decided to go back, even though we talked about staying in Varna. As a family though we concluded that it would be harder for us and we chose to go back.

Why would you recommend the Relocation Program of ScaleFocus?

I am someone who loves change and at some point I had gotten used to everything in Sofia. We had the same things happen week after week, my two important things, family and work took all of my time. Changing the environment and the team, leaving everything you know behind makes you start looking for it in the new place – new friendships and circle of people. This helps you find new life for yourself and go outside your comfort zone. We managed to create great friendships that remain to this day.

Another thing that is important to mention is that you can go there and just see what is like – and not be forced to remain if you don’t fit there. You can go for 6 months, a year or more, but you always have the opportunity to go back. You can be sure that if it doesn’t work out, ScaleFocus is behind you and supports your decision. The change in itself is very refreshing but you can always go back.

What do you miss the most about Varna?

The people there. My team where I put a lot of effort, emotion, care and love. I met wonderful and supporting people and we bonded together. Now I miss them but we keep in touch. What I got from them was friendship, understanding and support and this remains.

And of course, I miss Varna – because I really love it.

Would you relocate again and what would make you do it? And where would you choose to go?

Sometimes it’s important to push yourself and try – and as I said, go outside your comfort zone. With me it’s a combination of the two. I love testing myself and be challenged, to build from scratch. I can’t wait to do it again and the only thing that’s stopping me is the comfort of my family right now. But if they support me I would do it again right now, because of all the wonderful experiences.

I would love to relocate to Plovdiv but I think there isn’t a city where I wouldn’t try relocating to. Wherever you go you find something you love. But what you really take with yourself is your interactions with the people there. The city is just the place you are. An environment. But meeting new, great people in ScaleFocus and outside of it can really change you – in incredible and new ways.