Don’t be afraid to jump in at the deep end
Teodora Keranova has kept her sights firmly on her goal. But what should you do when unexpected obstacles get in your way? The 31-year-old’s journey shows how, with plenty of creative will and courage, she has found new tasks from which she has benefited.
Teodora Keranova started her dream job six years ago. As a business analyst in portfolio management at Union Investment, she was responsible for applications that support portfolio managers every day in making their investment decisions. “At that time, I felt like I was in exactly the right place,” recalls the economics graduate. “The team gave me a very warm welcome and the tasks where portfolio management meets IT were as varied and diverse as I had imagined.”
Growing by overcoming challenges
But after just a few months, everything was turned upside down. The provider of one of the core systems for portfolio analysis for which she was responsible stopped manufacturing its software, followed by staffing changes in her team. “At first, this was a major blow for me, which made me feel insecure, especially as a newcomer to the profession,” reports Keranova, a Bulgarian by birth. “But it turned out to be a huge opportunity for me.” As technical project manager, Keranova took on the complex task of finding a suitable subsequent system. A huge challenge from which she grew as a person, she says. “This experience has made me much bolder and more open-minded. I've learned to see something positive in change and to remain flexible at the same time.”
The learning curve gets steeper when you step out of your comfort zone and aren’t afraid to jump in at the deep end.
Stepping out of her comfort zone
Her interest to take on something new was piqued. “The learning curve gets steeper when you step out of your comfort zone and aren't afraid to jump in at the deep end,” says Keranova. The 31-year-old had already shown an interest in digital transformation and began to explore the topic of digitalisation. She sought out exchanges with others who shared an interest in the subject, networked and took advantage of resources offered by the company to familiarise herself even more thoroughly with digitalisation.
Acquiring new skills
In 2018, the opportunity arose for Keranova to move to the Future Technologies and Digitalisation department. “I was offered an interesting role which I was allowed to define to a large extent myself,” she says, describing her decision. “Many things were new to me at the start and I had to learn quickly,” she continues. Keranova researched and read up on the subject and sought out conversations with IT experts in the company. “Acquiring these new skills was fun and motivated me enormously.” Keranova is now working on many interdisciplinary topics relating to digitalisation in cross-business teams. “It's great to see the benefits of our work for us as employees and for our company.”
Keranova is currently focusing on the potential of artificial intelligence. In her life outside the office, she focuses on things that are more down to earth. She has found that gardening provides a work-life balance for her and takes great pleasure in the fruits and vegetables she harvests herself. “There are many similarities between gardening and my job. Planning and a systematic approach are just as important for growing fruits and vegetables in the garden as they are in a project, and you have to react flexibly to external factors.”
Keeping an open mind
Has Keranova reached her goal? “A few years ago, I might have had a clear idea of where I wanted the journey to go,” she says. Now, she focuses on more than long-term strategies, leaving room for “adjustments” to intermediate steps toward her goals. “We are experiencing dynamic change – conditions are volatile and new topics are constantly coming to the fore. Personally, I’ve decided to stay agile.” According to her, performing a task that creates value for the company is what matters in the end.