“Learning is limitless.”
Senior Manager Supply Chain, Jabil
Executive Master in Change 2018
In three sentences or less, could you tell us a little more about yourself?
I was born in a small city in Bulgaria, 30 minutes away from the border between Greece and Turkey. My name, Albena, means “wild mountain peonies”, symbolising health and beauty. I am Bulgarian and Armenian by blood, Canadian by pride and French by heart.
Any fun facts?
I have lived nearly a third of my life in Europe, a third in North America and another third in Asia.
Also, you may have seen my very excited-tired face on the admissions page of the INSEAD website. The picture was taken just 10 days after I had delivered my daughter, who was waiting to be breastfed outside of each class.
Why did you choose INSEAD and what makes the Executive Masters in Change different from other Masters out there?
For generations, education has been one of the strongest values in my family. I had always known that I would pursue a Masters at some point, and when I chose to apply, I was at that moment where I needed to do something that I truly loved. My career was already up and running, so I wanted to pursue a Masters for my own personal growth. I didn’t want it to feel like I was studying, so I had to choose something that I was passionate about.
The Executive Master in Change gave me the opportunity to dig deeper for the first time in my life, and to understand where I am today, figure out where I am going, and ask myself if this was what I truly wanted.
Understanding yourself is key to understanding the rest of the world and the way we do business and interact with others.
INSEAD is one of the top business schools in the world, so I had no doubt that I wanted to be a part of it. It won me over with the unique multicultural experience it offers, as it represented who I am. I was looking to meet like-minded women and men.
How would you describe your INSEAD experience?
I consider INSEAD one of the best 10 things that I have ever experienced. I submitted my application sure of what I wanted, but at the same time, I also wanted to be a mother again. I didn’t really see how this could be possible with a full-time job and so many responsibilities. Most of my family members and friends asked me to choose one or the other.
The choice was hard to make, and in the end, I told myself that if the universe is willing, I would have all my dreams come true at the same time. My daughter was born after the second module and she became our class baby. She used to stay at the residences on campus with my husband who supported me throughout.
My INSEAD experience was intense and beautiful. I cherish those memories deeply and I am forever grateful for the endless support from my colleagues and the INSEAD staff who helped me so wholeheartedly, accommodating me with the baby.
Was there an encounter that left you with a deep impression?
The founder of the programme, Professor Kets de Vries and both programme directors Erik van de Loo and Roger Lehman left deep impressions on me for life. I am so grateful to have met them all and to have had the chance to be part of the programme. It’s truly a transformational experience.
How did you juggle studies, work and personal time during your time at INSEAD?
My husband supported me incredibly. He would take leave during my modules, so that he could take care of the baby on campus near me while I was in class. I was breastfeeding during each break. My little girl spent her very first days of life at INSEAD.
What is your greatest fear?
To fail as a parent as this is my most important ‘project’ for life, and I take it very seriously.
What are your greatest talents?
I am extremely determined, adaptable, multi-tasking, an activator, disciplined and a strategic thinker. I find ways to make the impossible possible and complete tasks in very short deadlines.
What does it mean to you to be limitless?
To be prepared for the right opportunities and to show up.
If it’s meant to be, and you have given it your all, it will happen. To fearlessly create opportunities for yourself. To make your dreams come true. To be self-confident and to believe in yourself - then you can create limitless possibilities. To not fear making difficult decisions: the choice is already a treasure no matter which way you go. It will present a new learning opportunity. Learning is limitless.