Tsvetelina Delcheva, Origination Manager at ECI discusses what motivated her to work in private equity, how living in different countries has impacted her perspective, and why a Zumba class might be on the cards at the next ECI social.
Q: When did you first know you wanted to move into private equity, and why?
My first role when I moved to London was at an expert network, facilitating consultations between industry experts and private equity clients, which sparked my interest in the industry. After three years in that role, I moved to a consulting firm specialising in due diligence services for PE clients, which gave me much better exposure to the whole investment process.
In both roles I had the opportunity to work with C-level executives, however, our interactions were all about their past experiences and successes. I knew I wanted to be able to support the growth journey and future success of businesses, which drew me into the private equity career.
Q: Is that quite an unusual background for private equity?
Perhaps, and especially given my experience prior to moving to London. While I was studying in Vienna, I used to teach dance and fitness classes, including Zumba. Back in my home country Bulgaria, I used to work in a language school during my last year of high school and also supported the family business whenever I could. There may not be many Zumba instructors in private equity, but actually what you see when you join the industry is that there isn’t just one route in.
Q: Why did you choose ECI as the place to start a PE career?
I strongly believe that to be successful you need to love what you do and work with people who motivate you to improve. The role at ECI felt like the right fit as it suited my two passions of working with people and really digging down into research.
Additionally, the whole way through the interview process I met people who are very dedicated to what they do, and committed to driving success at ECI and at the companies we back. And this has been true since I joined – everyone has been open, supportive and willing to share their knowledge and experience.
Q: What does your day-to-day role entail at ECI?
Simply put, my role is to identify new, interesting and relevant opportunities for ECI to invest in. So that may be anything from desktop research, working with the advisor community, and of course building relationships with businesses directly. As a naturally curious person, ECI’s subsector model suits me and provides me with an opportunity to learn a lot about different markets, such as HCM, digital marketplaces or data & analytics as an example.
Q: You are from Bulgaria, studied in Vienna and now live in London. How do you think that international experience impacts the way you work?
I moved to Vienna when I was 18, which was exciting and frightening at the same time. This experience gave me an opportunity to meet a lot of different people and learn a lot about different cultures. Vienna is an amazing place to live as well, named the most livable city in the world ten years in a row, begging the question as to why I chose to move to London in 2016!
I think both Vienna and London have taught me just an openness about people. It taught me to never judge people when I meet them and to acknowledge and appreciate different perspectives. Everyone has a different culture, and they’re raised in a different way, so it gave me a better understanding that not everyone sees the world in the same way that you do.
That’s been very helpful in terms of how I work with people and especially when we meet businesses looking to internationalise. You can look at similar countries and imagine there is a homogenous way of doing business, but actually, the way businesses or customers make decisions can be very different. An awareness of cultural nuance, and making sure to look out for it, is part of that successful expansion.
Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?
For me it’s definitely to never stop learning, that is what motivates me. That applies to everyone, no matter if you’ve been in a job for 30 days or 30 years. There’s always more to know, that will drive your excitement when it comes to the work in front of you.
Quick Fire with Tsvetelina:
Would you say you’re an introvert or an extrovert?
I think I might be going through an identity crisis on this one. Prior to the lockdowns I would have said I was more of an introvert. However, that period gave me a new perspective on how important people are in your life and the joy of building up those relationships. I get much more of my energy from other people, so I guess that makes me an extrovert.
What is the first thing you’re eating when you go back to Bulgaria?
So, when I go back my parents will pick me up from the airport, and usually the moment I get into the car my mum is like, “There is food in the backseat !” She usually makes a homemade Banitsa, which is a traditional Bulgarian pastry with cheese, eggs and yoghurt.
On holiday are you more likely to be relaxing at the beach or hiking up a mountain?
I’m more likely to choose a beach holiday, however, it needs to include an activity, such as snorkelling, diving or sailing. Just before I joined ECI, I spent a week in Egypt snorkelling and diving and I hope to be able to go back soon.
Did you make any new years resolutions and have you kept them?
Be better at planning. I haven’t written them yet…