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Remote Career Development: Lily Stoyanov Of Transformify On How To Advance and Enhance Your Career When You Are Working Remotely

An Interview With David Liu

Career development is the ongoing process of choosing, improving, developing, and advancing your career. This involves learning, making decisions, collaboration with others and knowing yourself well enough to be able to continually assess your strengths and weaknesses. This can be challenging enough when you work in an office, but what if you work remotely? How does remote work affect your career development? How do you nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues? How can you help your employees do this? To address these questions, we started an interview series called “How To Advance and Enhance Your Career When You Are Working Remotely”.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lilia Stoyanov.

Lilia Stoyanov is a chief executive officer and angel investor at Transformify. A fintech and digital transformation expert, she is also a professor at Zigurat Business School, expert evaluator Horizon 2020 at the European Commission, author in various magazines including Entrepreneur.com. Among the years she has held various Chief Financial Officer Positions.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?

I graduated from Oxford University with a major in Financial Strategy. I am a professor at Zigurat Business School, Barcelona, Spain teaching blockchain, fintech, fundraising, and Digital Transformation FI/CO and serve as an Expert Evaluator Horizon 2020 of the EU Commission.

Finance was my first career choice as I love numbers. However, it was the world of business that was most attractive to me. Auditing someone’s financial statements was ok as a start but building a business from scratch is a completely different experience. Of course, the shift from a salaried employee to an entrepreneur didn’t happen overnight. It took about 10 years to progress from auditor at EY to GM & CFO.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

So it all started in 2013 when I was the director at a Fortune 500 company and was involved in the business transformation process. During my time there I saw how lots of people lost their jobs due to automation and it was clear that everyone would benefit from a solution that provides equal access to jobs and secure payment no matter what the location. And that’s why Transformify was born. It started as a Freelance Management Platform offering remote jobs and soon became the recruiter’s one-stop-shop. From Employer Branding to candidate sourcing to ATS to Diversity Hiring to billing and payments, it’s all that a hiring manager may need.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Mistakes are inevitable but the funniest one is probably related to marketing. Among all services, Transformify has a diversity hiring program helping people in need across the globe find a remote job, advance their careers and receive secure payment no matter the location of their employers. It’s a fantastic program but due to the language our marketing team used, back in 2016, we created a misperception that Transformify workforce management system is a product focused on diversity hiring only. Needless to say, it took more than a year to educate our target buyers that there is much more than that.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Sure, I have two quotes that are the most relevant for me

“Learn to rest, not to quit.’’ I am a workaholic and can reach a level of complete exhaustion when everything looks impossible. 1 year ago, I was so tired, I was ready to just let it go, when my mentor said that it is time to learn how to rest and this was the best piece of advice I could receive.

“It is not the fear that should drive your decisions, but your inner confidence.’’ It was a situation that appeared helpless but one of my best friends simply said ‘’Look around. Everybody in this room will stand behind you no matter what. Do what you feel is right’’.

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees thrive and avoid burnout?

It is very important to have a clear set of values, culture, goals for your company and you need to follow it from day one. It does take a lot of time, energy and compromises with personal life but the end result is all going to be worth it.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunities but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits and opportunities of working remotely?

Transformify is an all-remote company. Working from home, a coworking office, or a café is the norm for us. More and more companies are open to remote working arrangements. It’s a win-win for everyone as people commute less, have a better work-life balance, and are more productive, while the businesses benefit from access to global talent. Remote working has helped Transformify to increase its productivity, opportunity to increase diversity by opening up the candidate pool and flexibility for employees to work from any location.

Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding working remotely?

  1. Social Isolation
  2. Lack of Teamwork
  3. Missing out on watercooler conversations
  4. Lack of valuable in person collaboration/brainstorming with your team
  5. Less visibility into what other teams are working on

Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? Can you give a story or example for each?

Here are some ideas on how to address the challenges that we’ve implemented at Transformify:

  1. To address the issue of Social Isolation, we at Transformify organize virtual engagement activities, have regular check-ins with team members. We host a variety of monthly social events remotely at the end of the week to help employees unwind and stay connected with one another.
  2. Lack of valuable in person collaboration/brainstorming with your team — schedule regular team meetings and utilize tools such as Zoom and Slack in our day to day calls.
  3. Less visibility into what other teams are working on — Ask to “listen” in other team calls to learn about ongoing project status or new initiatives and also share Trello work management tools across teams.

Let’s talk about Career Development. Can you share a few ideas about how you can nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues?

According to me, career development is the ongoing process of choosing, improving, developing, and advancing your career. This involves learning, making decisions, collaboration with others and knowing yourself well enough to be able to continually assess your strengths and weaknesses.

Can you share a few ideas about how employers or managers can help their team with career development?

As managers, activate a learning program or organize internal training sessions with SMEs. It is important to know your team individually, their strengths and weaknesses and find out what they want to do. It is important to create plans, assign employees to projects that align with their growth plan and support any licensure or advanced degrees related to their current or desired position.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Affordable access to education and jobs. Being financially independent will help millions of people who are currently victims of the grey economy, of domestic abuse or modern-day slavery. Even though lots of enterprises point out to their diversity and inclusion initiatives, it is still common for candidates to be asked if they went to a public or private school, what the occupation of their parents was, etc. People need to be given a chance even if they are the first generation that went to college or the first generation that can lend a white color job.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can follow me on Linkedin as lilia stoyanov, fcca or follow my latest articles on entrepreneur.com — https://www.entrepreneur.com/author/lilia-stoyanov

Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success.

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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David Liu

David is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, a unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication