17 and a Half Questions with Simona Stoytchkova
We ask inspiring people 17 and a half questions. This week we have Simona Stoytchkova, CEO of IG Deutschland. She believes in herself fiercely, and advises ambitious young women to seek mentors as early as possible
1. What I like about my job
I love the variety and the daily excitement that the financial markets offer. Sometimes it's like being on a rollercoaster, there are a lot of ups and downs, no two days are the same, and sometimes the excitement even gives you goosebumps. Negative interest rates, for example, would have been something unthinkable during my studies... The idea of a negative oil price hadn't really been foreseen by anyone either... The latest market movements with Reddit shares have also caused a lot of excitement... And new technologies such as AI or Blockchain are also bound to turn many existing ones inside out. The financial world will always remain very exciting.
2. What sometimes frustrates me
At IG Deutschland, our range of products doesn't include everything that we need to be relevant to all customer groups – I would love to change that immediately, but unfortunately it can't be done so quickly.
3. My secret dream job
Hahahah, there are a few. As a kid, I wanted to be a pilot – my grandpa was a pilot and always talked about flying in a very inspiring way. Then when I got into my teens, I wanted to be a journalist and report from war zones. Then during high school, I wanted to be a researcher and find a cure for cancer to save the world. But secretly, the stock market has always fascinated me and stayed on my mind, so I think my final decision to study business and enter the world of finance was the right one.
4. Best strategy to survive a really bad day at the office
It's very important to believe in yourself, never give up what you stand for and always take the positives out of everything. Especially on bad days, lifelong learning is what gives me confidence to carry on and reflect on things differently.
5. How I get into the flow
I'm always in the flow, I really like my job and I have a great team! When we all put our heads together and work on new ideas that our customers like, it makes me very happy.
6. Biggest success so far
Going from Plattenbau buildings in East Berlin to the executive board at IG Europe! I even plan to write a book about this one day. 😊
7. Biggest defeat
I don't know if you can consider this a defeat, but what I advise all young women to do is to seek mentors and sponsors as early as possible, because I didn’t. I unfortunately realized the benefits of mentoring and sponsorship way too late in my life, mistakenly thinking for quite a while that I didn't need people like that. I also didn't believe in the glass ceiling, always thought it was an excuse for not getting ahead in your career. Unfortunately, that was not true, which I also realized over time.
8. Worst buzzword
Digital Nomad – unfortunately, there are lots of "coaches" who sell a dreamworld and get people to buy courses online. However, the reality is that very few Digital Nomads really achieve financial freedom, and such a life can be exhausting and sometimes lonely. So the dream of a hammock on an exotic beach, where you "automatically" earn money without doing very much, really is just a dream.
9. Best reward after a hard week at work
Spending time with my family and my 3 cat-children.
10. Home office or in-house
Before Corona, I would have definitely said in-house – I was never really someone who believed in the home office concept. Now I've completely changed my mind – home office has its advantages, and you might even be more productive if you can arrange your working hours more flexibly. I think the future of the working world is in a mixture of home office and in-house.
11. Most important traits a colleague/business partner must have
Integrity is the most important quality here. For me, responsible business conduct, which means doing the right thing even if it is not the easiest way, is the most important factor for a long-term and sustainable business relationship.
12. My creative hack
Celebrating my successes every day, even the small ones, and learning something new from them.
13. First website to check in the morning
Handelsblatt (the app, not the website).
14. Favorite digital tool
15. The book or series from which I have learned the most for my (work) life
I always loved watching Die Sendung mit der Maus as a child and I learned a lot from it. House of Cards also clarified some things for me when it comes to power, and made me think about different situations in my working life.
16. A series, book or podcast I can generally recommend
Two books that have made me the woman I am today are Grit by Angela Duckworth (I read the book in its original English) and The Robbins Power Principle by Anthony Robbins. I reread both of these books over and over every year. An inspiring podcast for me is Luft nach oben by Barbara Fernandez, which is about experiencing development, discovering oneself anew and giving direction to one's actions and achievements.
17. Most prominent follower on a social media channel?
Tina Müller and Janina Kugel, who are German women whom I consider role models. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to talk to them in person yet, but I find both women and their posts on social media very inspiring, and I also learn a lot from them.
17 and a half: What has always...
...kept me positive? My strong belief in myself and what I can achieve, for which I can thank my parents and grandparents. Even when I was a child, they have always made sure that this conviction manifested itself in my mind. No matter what happens in life (and a lot of it is completely out of my control), I never stop believing in myself, and I am firmly convinced that I can do anything I set my mind to.
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