Life and experience:
Born on October 19
Married, one son
University of National and World Economy, Sofia - Master's degree in Economics (1976 - 1981)
- Research Institute of Construction Materials at Zavodproekt, chief accountant (1983 - 1986)
- "Zavodproekt", chief accountant (1986 - 1989)
- PAC Doverie, chief accountant (1994 - 1997)
- PAC Doverie, Director of Finance and Accounting (1997 - 2000)
- PAC Doverie, Chief Executive Officer (2000 -
Accounting was her most hateful subject at the university. Yet Daniela Petkova, the present Chief Executive Officer of Pension Assurance company Doverie AD, largely owes her carrier to it.
She became an accountant almost by accident, having just graduated from the Institute of Economics. At the beginning of the 80's, in order to get an apartment of her own, Ms Petkova decided to join a construction team. She turned to be physically too weak however and the chairman of the Comsomol Regional Committee sent her to keep the books of Electronic Transducer Elements Plant in the Goroublyane district of Sofia. Thus she entered into the world of financial statements and balance sheets where she still remains today.
She joined Doverie in 1994. A former colleague recommended her for a chief accountant to the Israeli owners. I was given the task to build from nothing an accounting system according to the international standards for a business completely new for our country. It was definitely a challenge, says the manager.
Actually she came to Doverie with the intention to soon return to her private accounting firm. Three years later she closed it. At that time she is already Chief Financial Officer of the pension company. Today Mrs. Daniela Petkova manages more than 200 people and financial assets of almost BGN 700 million. The company has three pension funds: a mandatory professional pension fund (for people working in hard labor conditions), mandatory general pension fund (for people born after 1959) and a voluntary pension fund. As of today, 1.2 million Bulgarians have entrusted to them their pension savings. That makes Doverie the market leader according to number of members with a market share of 37 per cent. A result achieved in competition with the other eight pension insurance companies.
The power of innovation
Now, when the clients as a whole have already been distributed among the companies the key to the success of the business are the innovations, thinks Mrs. Petkova: A company striving to be a leader must be the first to introduce the tendencies on the market for the others to follow. Doverie was the first to offer its clients the opportunity to check the balance on their individual accounts by Internet, to buy goods and services at preferential prices from partner companies. It was the first to offer a 24-hour call center.
Several months ago the company started an initiative to set young people thinking about their future and start paying their social insurance contributions on their real income. The idea sprang up from an analysis of the labor market which showed an extremely low percentage of employment and low income within the age group of 18 to 24 years old people. Daniela Petkova proposes that lessons in social insurance and legal employment should be introduced at high schools, unfortunately without any result.
I have many concrete plans for how in the following three or four years we could introduce standards comparable with the international standards in our sphere. I would not stay with that company and I would not be satisfied with my work if I had no vision about the development of Doverie several years ahead in every moment, asserts Mrs. Petkova. In her opinion the sense that you are improving as a person and as a professional is the strongest of all motivational factors for her subordinates too. People should know what they are doing, why they are doing it, where they would like to go and who they would like to go there with. The transparency of the aims and the path that should be walked makes people dedicated, affirm Mrs. Petkova.
Step by step
A person that step by step leads you to the end. That is the answer of rivals and subordinates when asked about Daniela Petkova. For Sofia Hristova, Executive Director of the rival company Allianz Bulgaria, the manager of Doverie is one of the pronounced professionals in the branch. My opinion is based on our long-year work together in that sphere since we know each other from the time of the very beginning when we were building the foundations of supplementary pension insurance, says Mrs. Hristova. At that time the first laws and regulations on the activity of the pension companies were made and Mrs. Petkova is the person who together with specialists from the Ministry of Finance established the first accounting standards for pension insurance in Bulgaria.
From almost the same time, in hard times and success side by side with her is her deputy, Angelina Petrova. She affirms that her chief knows how to motivate people around her. Some think her hard to communicate with but I work easy with her since she knows what she wants, continues Mrs. Petrova. She evidences that with the actions of Mrs. Petkova during the campaigns for the initial distribution of the pension insurance market. At that time within two months they had to reach all people working under harmful labor conditions and convince them to choose exactly Doverie.
The second campaign followed short time after. The law gave six months to contact and win for the general pension fund all working people born after 1959. During that period Doverie works almost like a military organization, the decisions are taken rather on the command principle. The company's employees together with the 15 thousand insurance agents go about offices, mines and enterprises all over the country. They work overtime, even on the weekends. The specific character of that period required a unique approach. To achieve success, everything had to be planned to the very detail. All were perfectly clear that they had to obey, not to argue. The smallest failure could send you overboard, remembers Mrs. Petkova. The results were quick to come: We achieved 41 percent market share by number of insured persons in the professional and the general pension funds of the company, and that with the money that our shareholders gave for reaching 25 percent. Several years later the company is still the leader, though with a little bit smaller percent. The light decrease is actually quite logical having in mind the new players that entered the market.
However, after the time of success and euphoria there came a period of crisis for the company. There were days when 7 - 8 thousand people were coming to choose Doverie. All of us knew at that time that our clients were not quite acquainted with supplementary pension insurance and used to choose their fund depending on whether they liked or not the people they were meeting with. That brought us extreme satisfaction and increased our efforts tenfold. But that came to its end and both the energy and motivation disappeared. We had to come back to a systematic, normal approach of work, tells the manager of Doverie.
That time was quite distressing even for her to find new motivation so as to stimulate the others too. Itwasoneofthehardestperiodsever inmycareer, says Mrs. Petkova, in a thick voice. Then she started laying particular stress on team work in management. One of her most important tasks was to create a team of managers that would take together the important decisions for the company. She works side by side with them generating ideas. Yet, Mrs. Petkova retains her right to veto on decisions she considers that might on one or another reason be harmful for the company. For that purpose she enjoys full confidence on the part of the shareholders.
Much the same is the way to decide where to invest the money of the people insured in Doverie pension funds. The Investment Committee holds its meetings every week. External advisors also take part. The decisions are taken after free discussions and Daniela Petkova again has the right to veto. It is rarely necessary to exercise it. One of the cases she had to say no is connected with a decision to invest in shares that contravened the socially responsible investment policy that Doverie strives to follow. We had some doubts about the owners of the particular company and some corruption practices related to it. Irrespective of the profit that could be brought by a given investment if there's something about the issuer of securities that makes us uneasy we are not willing to contribute anyway for his additional profiteering, explains Mrs. Petkova
She is not a supported of aggressive investment policy. The average yield of Doverie pension funds for the last two years is between 10 and a little above 12 percent, which is not the highest on the market. We stick to moderate risk levels and prefer giving our clients maximum security by keeping the value of their money in time, even increasing it. In the moment the risk measure of the different funds is several-times different. I strongly hope that the aggressiveness will decrease. Nowhere in the world the funds are places for big profits and a short-term stay underlines the manager of Doverie.
The technology of selection
Daniela Petkova insists on choosing her direct subordinates by herself. I have never allowed any interference in the selection of people I will work with since I believe that the responsibility for that choice also should be mine. That's why I rarely interfere in the choice of the subordinates of my subordinates, says Mrs. Petkova. She however requires that the selection of people is made in accordance with the staff-selection system of Doverie, written by her personally. Who has the chance to find job with Doverie? First, those are pleasant people, easy to communicate with. Pleasant people for me are those that share my values to some extent or another. The people I like, and I myself strive to be such, are clever, honest, open and responsible. People who can resist temptation and who are strong enough to admit their faults, explains the rules Mrs. Petkova. Secondly, the candidates should be able to work in high speed, should be ambitious, without narrow, clerkish approach to the job. Besides, Doverie insists on intelligence. It goes side by side with education, usually, but not always of course. Another must for the staff of the pension insurance company is the ability to work in a team.
Despite all these rules, even Daniela Petkova is not protected against mistakes, and she admits them: There is hardly a manager to work with the self confidence that he's faultless. I have made mistakes and I have experienced great disappointments. It is hard because in a sense you are disappointed by yourself.