Meet the Pro: Stoianka Jordanova, Strategy Consultant, Accenture

Name: Stoianka Jordanova
Company: Accenture
Current Position: Strategy Consultant

Did you do anything similar to the CW ICS programme before you were 35?

I haven’t participated in programmes similar to CW ICS as none were available in my home country at the time. However, I strongly believe such volunteer work is a great opportunity for young people to develop work-related skills: from being a reliable team member, a positive contributor to someone else’s well-being, open-minded and flexible to deal with upcoming uncertainties and challenges, to a global citizen with wide cross-cultural horizon. And trust me, teamwork, adaptability, eagerness to learn, and cultural sensitivity are on top of the recruitment agenda of many employers!

What is/was your most recent position, with what organisation and which sector was this in?

I am a Strategy Consultant with Accenture – a leading global professional services company, providing services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations.

On a daily basis, I work in cross-cultural (often cross-border) teams to resolve client business issues and help them be successful in uncertain environments and amid rising customer expectations. The type of work where the skills volunteering helps develop can be applied!

What was your first job?

My first “job” was helping my family grow, harvest and sell plums J. In a way, a volunteering opportunity that allowed me to be part of the end-to-end process and understand the criticality of each step for the overall success (both in terms of produce and money for my family).Early in age, I learnt to be responsible, disciplined and creative in finding ways to attract customer attention to our booth in a market that was seasonally full with plums! Last but not least, I learnt that there are no shameful jobs and you have to start somewhere!

 Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?

My father has been an inspiration for me as someone who rises through the ranks thanks to his knowledge, expertise, results orientation and dedication. He fell down due to circumstances beyond his control (change of the country’s political system but he swallowed the pain and disappointment, used the time off to update his skills and go through the lessons learnt, he came back and re-established himself as one of the most respected experts in his field back home and continues to repeat this process.

Advice for Young People

 What are the three most important things to ensure your career continues to progress?

Never stop learning! A Chief Executive in our company says that throughout our careers in Accenture we remain apprentices. We never stop learning on the job through our colleagues, through self-directed training and dedicated events. Whatever the job you wish to land and be good at, be sure that you dedicate time and energy to new knowledge.

Learn to manage up! Although this sounds complicated, it simply means know your boss: what is important to them, how they like to communicate and lead, how you will work together, and what areas you could help them in (by being specifically good at something or by taking some of the most repetitive tasks from them). This will earn their trust and respect, and one day pay off in terms of promotion.

Don’t be afraid to ask how you’re doing on the job! In many organisations, manager’s feedback is expected as part of a formal evaluation process. But if this is not the case (and even if it is!) don’t forget to ask how you’re doing, what was good and what can be improved. Naturally, (going back to the previous point) make sure your requests for feedback are timely and reasonable. Give yourself and your manager enough time to gain and observe experience, but don’t wait too long as memories fade. Always have a mindset that the feedback is another opportunity to learn and grow. And don’t forget to apply it.

What three things do you look for when hiring a young person?

Willingness to learn

Integrity

Interpersonal skills

What is the most difficult interview questions you’ve ever been asked? Hopefully, it’s none of these questions!

I can’t think of any question in particular but all questions seem difficult when you are too nervous. Being nervous is natural but as long as you have done your homework, you’ll be fine. Although we can probably never be 100% prepared for an interview, information about our future employers is available at our fingertips in the digital age! Social media, corporate website, online articles etc.

Some young people feel frustrated that they cannot get the job they are after or start a business and feel anxious about their future. What would you say to them?

Frustration and disappointment are normal (we’re humans after all!). But don’t let them discourage you from trying again. After every interview, take some time to reflect and think what went well, what questions made you uncomfortable (and why!), then fill the knowledge gap, and move on.

Failure is part of the process. In fact, one of the major recent changes in business strategy is towards failing fast, cheaply and well. And “well” means learn from your mistakes and apply and re-apply somewhere else what was good in the first place.