In this “Women in Tech” series, we will introduce you to talented tech professionals that are riding the wave of change in the most exciting tech companies in our region. Having a strong and devoted team is one of the prerequisites of success for every startup venture and what investors are most often looking for, so we want you to meet the ladies who are making innovation happen.
We will explore different roles and jobs – from technical talents to professionals responsible for the growth and exploration of new markets, to IT jobs you haven’t even heard of, yet. We will also talk about what it is like to work in tech – the skills you need, the challenges you meet, the work environment that helps you thrive, and the future of work altogether.
Maria Racheva has been a Community Manager at Campus X, one of the biggest co-working spaces in Bulgaria, for more than three years now. She has a Bachelor of Science in Management from the University of Manchester and a Master’s degree in General Psychology from SU Kliment Ohridski. Maria is really passionate about bringing people together and making members feel welcome at Campus X. She is a true believer in the power of community.
The Recursive: How did you become a Community Manager at Campus X? What do you think is the significance of this role in the tech world?
Maria Racheva: Before joining Campus X, I used to work in Digital Marketing, more of an analytical role. Very focused on analyzing data and a bit static, set at my laptop. This experience helped me realize that that’s one strength of mine – analytical thinking. But there’s more that excites me and more that I actually want to pursue in my work life. Over the years different hobbies and interests have been guiding me towards a profession that involves working with people. And so, here I am. I think it is a significant role in the tech world but not only. Just because we as humans tend to live in groups and in communities, it is natural for us. There is a saying that the whole is always bigger than the sum of its parts. I 100% agree. When we help each other, when we exchange, when we are well-intended, the end result is not only for us but also for others to be better, bigger, stronger, faster, etc. We can create a better world if we recognize ourselves as part of one interconnected whole because we, in fact, are.
What motivates you and makes you good at what you do?
Seeing things improve and seeing my support and involvement help others with their goals and intentions. My role is very oriented towards serving others so this is something that I enjoy. So, I like the end results but I also enjoy the process. My fuel (laughs) is to meet people, to have interesting conversations, to learn, and in that way to also expand my horizons.
Was there ever an obstacle you had to overcome at your job and if so, how did you do it?
In the beginning when I started this role back in 2018, the whole project was quite fresh and new. My experience was that people didn’t have such a strong perception of being part of a community. Тhen in 2020, the pandemic came, and isolated us in our homes. For a period of time I was putting a lot of effort into building this community feeling. At moments when things were not working out and people were not turning up at events, I felt like it was not successful. It brought some frustration for sure. But I see now that all the efforts have been accumulating over time and are now paying off. People are much more engaged these days and I’m very happy about that. So it takes time and perseverance.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time as a Community Manager at Campus X and if so what is it?
Not just one. But one of them, a recent one, that’s maybe my favorite one. We organized our donation day at the end of February in support of the Ukrainian refugees. I was really pleased by the involvement of our members. More than 20 volunteers from Campus X worked through the day to collect donations. Many more members turned up and left more than 250 bags of donations in just one day. It was a very successful event and I saw how it brought out the best in people. It was a pleasure to witness so many smiling, calm, and peaceful faces over the course of the day.
You work with lots of tech companies and their members on a daily basis, what are some observations you’ve had along the way?
I find that there are a lot of bright and ambitious people in our community – people you can speak to about many different topics. They’re active in their work, as well as in the wider society. So, I’d say it’s a very, very good environment, where one can learn a lot. And it’s an environment that can stimulate you to grow personally and professionally, where you can get inspired. And I think if you spend the day here at the Campus X, you will feel that vibe.
How has technology shaped your career?
I’m a people person. Not so much of a techie but technology is a field that I enjoy because it involves a lot of innovation, new ideas, and taking on new challenges. So, this environment is very much in sync with my personality.
Do you have any piece of advice for anyone thinking about joining a tech startup or creating one?
Being an observer of the tech startups we host at Campus X, I see that it’s a very dynamic field. It’s a good culture. If you are a bright, curious person who wants to make an impact, that will be a good choice for you. And obviously, if you’re excited about technology, that’s the best.
Payhawk is a successful Bulgarian company and is a Campus X member. Do you think there is another company here on Campus X that can reach this level of success soon?
We have a few member companies that went through B Series funding. So, I believe some or more of those companies could reach that level. Fingers crossed, I know they’re working very hard. Hopefully soon, we’ll have good news from them.
How do you imagine the future of work?
More people working in jobs and professions that they really love. Moving on from the “I have to” to the “I love to” mindset. Also, I imagine the future of work where humans, not only in the tech sector, but generally speaking, will be more aware of their impact on the environment, and will learn to live and work in harmony with nature.
You mentioned the environmental impact, what are some ways in which you make sure that you are energy efficient at Campus X?
We have a Facility team that takes care of our infrastructure and for Campus X to be as energy efficient as possible. Additionally, we’ll also be starting an internal community project with members who are passionate about Campus X being even greener as a space. It is in its initial stages.
What would you say is your superpower?
So what’s something that I’m very good at? Connecting the dots.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I like reading your interviews and your articles and you know, getting updated about what’s exciting in the ecosystem.