To celebrate International Women’s Day and the achievements of women in the Campus X community, we’re excited to launch our “Women in Leadership” series.
Maya Zlatanova is the Co-Founder and CEO of FindMeCure - a company, which brings clinical trials closer to patients. Maya is an outstanding female leader - she inspires her team and leads with great empathy and courage.
Read our blitz interview with Maya to learn more.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at FindMeCure.
I am the CEO and Co-Founder of FindMeCure. In my role, I am responsible for taking care of my team and leading them in a tough and pretty conservative industry where things are shaping as we speak due to the COVID-19 outreach. And as every CEO out there, my job is to sell and amplify the impact of the company.
2. What do you love the most about your job?
The thing that I love the most about my job is that I get to learn all the time. I am learning it the hard way, but my experience shows that sometimes there is no other way.
Another thing I love is the fact that we are working in a very dynamic space, research is super intriguing and is related to a real impact on people’s lives and well-being.
3. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Where shall I start... :) I think the biggest challenge was when we had to decide we needed to pivot from our initial idea and explain to the team why.
It was more of a process though and thankfully the time only proved we made the right decision. But before making the decision, there was some time when I knew we were not heading in the right direction. Yet, I had no idea where to go next and how to make the best decision.
4. If you could share with us one leadership lesson that you’ve learned over the years, what’d it be?
The greatest asset of a leader is empathy. If you care about people in general, you will be able to take care of your team, your customers, partners, and build a successful company.
There’s one thing that women tend to forget - empathy comes more naturally to us. Moreover, motherhood teaches us to be even more empathetic and understand people’s psychology from the very basics. We often forget about that and focus on other disadvantages we have. I believe it’s time to forget about self-criticism and focus on the strengths we have.
No business is built without the help of smart people, united by a common goal. This reminds me of another lesson I’ve learned throughout the years: surround yourself with smart people you can learn from (and allow them to be smart and get smarter)!
5. Any advice on how to build confidence as a woman in a leadership role? How did you do it?
I recently spoke at a Women Leadership workshop on the same topic. The workshop was attended by women who were predominantly born and raised in Bulgaria.
I told them: communism did a favor to women in the ex-communist countries as my mom and my grandma have always worked side by side with my dad and grandad. In my head, having a career and being a woman has always gone hand in hand.
When it comes to confidence, the biggest challenge we have as women is that we sweat the small things and focus on disadvantages and not how great we are doing and how hard we try.
One thing that my partner in business and in life taught me is that: “it is not important what you have or can do today, but what you are doing to have more and know more tomorrow”. And this rule applies across all people - in short F--K perfectionism :)
6. What sacrifices you’ve made to be where you’re today?
Comfort - if you want to run your own business then you should be aware that comfort does not exist - ever.
There is always something you need to solve or a new milestone to achieve. You better learn to celebrate every single win. If you think you will be happier when X, Y, or Z happens, you’ll end up disappointed.
It’s the same in life. The moment you make peace with the fact that you’ll be out of your comfort zone, things will get much easier :)
7. How do you unwind and unplug from work?
By spending time with my daughter, family, and friends. I don’t believe in working 24 hours a day. It’s essential to unplug if you want to be productive and efficient at your job. That’s why I make time to unwind most evenings and weekends. Usually, this is exactly when my best ideas come in.
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