BOYKO MANEV: ADVISER OF SUCCESS


The Chief People Officer at KFC Bulgaria on the importance of perseverance and proper corporate culture

Boyko Manev KFC.jpg

KFC needs no introduction; the company's joints have been staple in the Bulgarian urban scene for almost 30 years. Its current Chief People Officer, Boyko Manev, is one of the Bulgarian professionals whose career path embodies the idea of success: a combination of hard work, perseverance, vision for future growth and the desire to build a new generation of employees and managers who share the highest standards and values of modern business culture. His extensive experience was gained mainly in top brands in the hospitality industry, including in the USA. In all of his positions, Mr Manev has always been led by the principles of taking care of employees and ensuring their personal and professional satisfaction as a crucial part in corporate success. In 2013, he also published a book designed to inspire others to follow his steps: If I Can, You Can, Too.

You have been part of KFC Bulgaria for five years now. What was the biggest professional challenge you had to deal with during that time?

When I said "Yes" to the KFC challenge, I was an expert in tourism and hospitality with 20 years of experience. I had no direct experience in the field of quick service restaurants (QSR) and it was very important for me to enter the processes as quickly as possible, because structural changes were coming and it was of great importance to make decisions that help develop the company.

I had the good fortune to be accepted by all my colleagues who gave me the necessary support in the first days and months and I was quickly introduced to the operational activity.

What have you changed in the way the company works? What do you recognize as your greatest achievement?

Over the past five years, together with my colleagues, we have gone through many challenges. Perhaps the biggest was the Covid-19 pandemic – then in a very short period of time we had to reallocate resources and efforts and make sure that we kept as many employees as possible to help the company recover in the post-pandemic period.

Together with my colleagues from the HR and Ops Team, we have developed procedures and practices that will allow us to solve the problems related to human resources adequately and in a timely manner. To date, we work with almost 20% workers from third countries (i.e. non-EU) and accordingly have to accommodate their culture and lifestyle. What I can say is that our colleagues from Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Syria and Ukraine are a very important and valuable resource for our company and this is appreciated by all employees.

There are several important programs that we have developed in recent years, which, together with new colleagues from abroad, allow the company to grow and develop.

One of these programs is "8+4", which allows workers with a dual employment contract with us to use accommodation with covered monthly expenses, including Internet access. Under this program, we have over 100 people using accommodation in several of our locations – Sofia, Plovdiv, Pazardzhik, Stara Zagora, Burgas and Plovdiv. The other is the "Colonel Sanders Scholarship", which allows first-year students who have just started working with us to receive financial support in the amount of BGN 1,000 per year. We already have over 150 team members who have benefited from this program.

What is the most important thing you learned while working for international companies?

In my 25 years of experience, I can say that international companies teach their employees a corporate culture, profiling of duties and responsibilities, a sense of belonging to something bigger and last but not least – ethics and morals that would be more difficult to acquire in a Bulgarian company.

Your career development is an impressive series of bold steps forward and carefully planned steps. Is there a secret to successful professional development in Bulgaria, and if so, what is it?

Thanks for the nice words. What I can say, now from the distance of time and the experience gained so far, is that almost always over the years, when deciding on a new challenge, I have been guided by this principle: what will this position give me professionally and to what extent it will help me to upgrade my knowledge and experience so that after some time I can successfully implement what I have achieved in a new place.

There is no universal code or recipe for success. It's different for every person. But one thing I can say, as a prerequisite, and that is persistence. Consistency in actions, thinking and behavior in the workplace is a guarantee of success. When a person is chosen to start at a workplace, it is generally because they offer solutions and opportunities for the company that can help its development. And vice versa – when a person begins to demonstrate decline in results, hesitation and reduced commitment in the performance of his duties, they become a target of management, the ultimate goal is separation.

What is the most important advice you would like to give to young Bulgarians who want to develop a career in the country?

It's hard for me to choose just one specific piece of advice for young Bulgarians, but if I had to, maybe it would be: "Be as committed and dedicated to what you do as possible!". This is the only way to achieve sure success and grow in your career.

When you are involved in a process, you already become a part of its existence, and depending on your level of competence, it can become a part of finding a sustainable solution that leaves a positive impression on many people.

A high degree of involvement allows for a good knowledge of policies, processes and procedures in a company. This, in turn, leads to the possibility of analysis and, from there, planning of next steps for development horizontally or vertically in the company's hierarchy.

And when you know the processes, it makes you adequate in making decisions and increases your efficiency. Higher efficiency can lead to greater financial incentive, therefore a better lifestyle (both professionally and personally).

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