Who am I?
My name is Iliana Docheva, Ili for my friends. I was born in Ruse (Bulgaria) a beautiful city by the Danube River. I have been living in the “land of tulips” (the Netherlands) for the past 9 years. I define myself as a Bulgarian, mother, extrovert, enthusiast, adventurer and according to my partner… a stubborn donkey. He might be right, I am very stubborn indeed!
The last couple of years in the Netherlands were extremely important for me, in both personal and professional aspect. I gave birth to my amazing daughters, we had our first house, and I have graduated with my Master’s Degree along with completing a number of courses that really boosted my professional development. Quite a few accomplishments in such a short period of time. I came to the conclusion that obstacles motivate me to do better, which is good because there were plenty of them.
Moving to the Netherlands was something that I wasn’t prepared for, my expectations of what life would be here were not met. This decision has changed my social, emotional and financial standing at the time.
Expected or not, change is a natural process and we cannot let the fear of the unknown that comes with the change to control our lives. We define what change means – it could be an obstacle or an opportunity!
Socrates says: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new”
Why cultural differences?
I love working with people, this gives me energy and I am experienced in interacting with different individuals in different settings. After moving to the Netherlands I had a great desire to socialize with the Dutch but I had the feeling that I was often misunderstood without any specific reason. This is when I decided to dive into the intercultural field. During my Master’s degree I started to do a thorough research in the field and I did my final thesis on the topic.
Intercultural differences are a very important topic but sadly not in Bulgaria. I do not have an explanation as to why the topic of intercultural differences is not being appreciated since a huge part of the Bulgarian population lives abroad. Even individuals who face difficulties interacting in multicultural environment on a daily basis are still skeptical when it comes to exploring the field. However, I know how valuable this knowledge is and I am well prepared to help my countrymen’s adaptation abroad and all other expats who face difficulties in Bulgarian environment.
Before moving to the Netherlands I worked as:
- Customer Manager at Metro Cash & Carry 2010-2012
- Sales Representative (Sopharma Trading) 2007-2010
- Sales Specialist (Cantek) 2004-2007
My work experience has been mainly in Bulgaria and I never had any difficulties finding a job. The situation was quite different when we came to the Netherlands. At that point of time I decided to focus mainly on my education, this was my investment for a better future.
Overall, my life in Bulgaria was very different than my life in “the low lands”. This life experience and the knowledge I gained have motivated me to support others’ adaptation in a new cultural environment.
Education and qualifications
- Master’s Degree in Management, Economics and Consumer studies, Wageningen, the Netherlands
- Master’s Degree in Management of Business Organizations, Svishtov, Bulgaria
- Bachelor’s Degree in Economic Management, Ruse, Bulgaria
- Brain, mind and Culture, 2021
- Uncommon mindset, 2021
- Intercultural readiness check (IRC), 2019
- Develop your intercultural competence to perform more effectively across culture, 2019
- Develop your cultural intelligence, 2018
Charity work is very important to me, this is how “The Cause - association of the Bulgarians in the Netherlands” was born in 2018 – it is a Facebook group dedicated to help Bulgarians in need. The group was created by me and 3 other like-minded lovely Bulgarian ladies.
In the beginning of 2020 I became a part of the Activities committee in SIETAR - society for intercultural education, training and research. This gives me an opportunity to be up to date with the latest in the intercultural field and to gain valuable knowledge from other professionals.