Combining Work and PhD Studies is it Possible? Meet our Senior Business Analyst Dr. Petar Nikolov!

2 October 2020

The story of Petar Nikolov is really inspiring. Starting at CSoft as a student, today he works on some of the most serious and innovative projects in the company as a senior business analyst. At the same time, he managed to go through every step of his education with honors. His efforts recently culminated in a doctorate in economics, majoring in Finance. Especially for us, he shares the most interesting moments of his journey to his great goal and tells how working at CSoft helped him to achieve it.

How did your story with CSoft start?

Dr. P. NIKOLOV: My story with CSoft started over 8 years ago. Back then I was about to complete my bachelor’s degree and had no professional experience. One of the professors at the university told me that a banking software company was looking for business analysts with economic education and interests in finance. I was very insecure and wondered if I should apply at all. I had not finished all the exams and I cared a lot about my education. Nevertheless, I tried and started my first job.

From the first time I entered the office, I was fascinated by the atmosphere - this is exactly how I had imagined real European working conditions. Not to mention the cohesion of the team and the spirit of mutual aid. I knew that in this environment I would not only become an excellent professional, but also develop skills that would help me achieve my personal goals.

Why did you decide to pursue a PhD?

Dr. P. NIKOLOV: My interest in financial science arose during my studies as a bachelor at the University of Economics - Varna. I have written many term papers and projects, participated in forums and conferences, and my greatest achievement is winning the annual nominal award of the Municipality of Varna for high scientific achievements in the field of "Social, Economic and Legal Sciences" in 2012. In addition, I often explained cases to my fellow students, and at work I did very well with communication with clients and colleagues. That's how I realized that I have fluency and I can explain in comprehensible language. But my main trigger was to create my own study and get the most out of my higher education.

Present to us in brief the topic of your dissertation.

Dr. P. NIKOLOV: The topic of my dissertation is "Network structure and sustainability of the banking system in Bulgaria." I dare to say that my research is novel and at the same time contemporary, because this issue has not been a subject of analysis in our country yet. The core of the work consists in presenting the banking system as a network built of nodes (banks) and connections between them (interbank loans and interbank deposits), and testing the resilience of this network against macroeconomic shocks and financial contagion. As a result of the research, I came to the conclusion that the banking network in Bulgaria has a high degree of stability. However, during a strong macroeconomic shock (the Covid-19 pandemic) combined with too high concentration of funds in a small number of nodes, resilience to mass bankruptcies (financial contagion) decreases.

How did you manage to combine working at CSoft with PhD studies?

Dr. P. NIKOLOV: Immediately after completing my master's degree in 2014, I started preparing for the PhD exam, but I decided that it was more important for me to prove myself as a professional in my work at CSoft. I took the time to consider whether I could combine work with study, and a few years later I took the exams, passed them with honors, and became a PhD student.

It took me a lot of work, perseverance, constant pursuit of goals, motivation and faith in success. These values are embedded in the philosophy of CSoft and made me believe that everything is possible. My research supervisor, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lyubomir Georgiev, also played a key role. He knew that working at CSoft requires a lot of devotion and gave me valuable guidance.

I transferred the enthusiasm, perseverance, diligence, analytical thinking and prioritization of tasks from work to study and so skillfully combined both. I also tried to spend time with my family, friends, to do my hobbies and live life to the fullest. Step by step, I moved forward. The result was more than satisfying - I deserved the maximum number of positive evaluations from the scientific jury.

What would you like to say to those who are considering taking your path?

Dr. P. NIKOLOV: I feel I am an extremely happy person. I am happy and grateful for the chance I have been given by the Department of Finance at the University of Economics - Varna to experience the magic of PhD studies. I am also grateful to CSoft for all the knowledge I gained, for learning how to deal with difficulties, and most of all for realizing the meaning of dedication! I am grateful to my friends, relatives and colleagues for their support. My message to everyone is to follow their goals, to work hard to achieve them and to believe in their success!