Zlatina Ruseva-Savova, Co-Managing Partner of Dinkov, Maximova, Ruseva-Savova Law Firm, on setting goals with ambition and leading with conviction
Zlatina Ruseva-Savova is the Co-Managing Partner of Dinkov, Maximova, Ruseva-Savova Law Firm. She is also a Co-Founder of Ruseva-Savova & Partners, which is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C., USA. Zlatina is a highly qualified attorney, admitted to Sofia Bar, having 20 years of extensive experience as a legal advisor of international companies. In her legal practice she has embraced the codes of excellence and "profits based on business ethics". Zlatina is committed to social responsibility work, having served on the boards of associations and chambers and contributed to advocacy, rule-of-law and growth-driven legislative campaigns and landmark initiatives.
What is the “business” card of your law firm?
Dinkov, Maximova, Ruseva-Savova is a corporate law firm focused on advising multinational clients on their activities in Bulgaria, as well as outgoing business and investments from Bulgaria to the USA. Our highly qualified lawyers have reputable international and local qualifications and experience. One of our Partners is also a French qualified lawyer, a graduate of Sorbonne University, France, and another who is based in Washington, D.C. is a U.S. Export Controls Specialist (EXCS™) certified by Amber Road – Global Trade Academy in the USA.
We have sustainably compiled a long-standing bouquet of clients including branded U.S., British, Irish, Ukrainian, French, Israeli, Swiss, and other international and local corporate clients and foreign higher educational institutions. While fulfilling our mission, we are fully committed to business ethics, client trust, and collegiality.
The firm is a member of prestigious organizations like the British Bulgarian Business Association and the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. And our consulting firm Ruseva-Savova & Partners is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C., USA. Our corporate social responsibility involves our volunteering time, expertise, and leadership to chambers of commerce and serving on their committees.
Does it take courage or ambition for a woman to become a strong leader?
Courage, audacity, ambition seem all to be an inherent state of mind of women leaders around. Like Eleanor Roosevelt has once said: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you‘ll be criticized anyway.”
Be vocal. Express yourself. Face your fears instead and laugh at them and at yourself.
Set your goals with ambition, lead with conviction. In our profession we enjoy respect between female and male lawyers. We cooperate and support each other but do not fight with each other. Our firm is a true example of that, having on our Board two female and one male appointed as the Co-Managing Partners.
While we, the Founders, may be the first women in the firm, hopefully, we won’t be the last. We strive to be leaders who represent the best in our team. Leaders the team will respect and people can look up to. I also strive to be the CEO that my parents were to me and that I am to my children – honest, loyal, and committed.
Female success stories are seen across a whole palette of professions. We are witnessing a landmark momentum for Bulgaria, as for the first time women have recently been elected on top leadership positions in the judiciary. The Constitutional Judge Pavlina Panova is the new Chairperson of the Constitutional Court, and Judge Galina Zaharova is the new Chairperson of the Supreme Court of Cassation. Though not knowing them, I can assure you that their election on these top positions is the natural continuation of their thousands of hours, days, long years of persistent work, their merits, professionalism, and strong personalities.
Women can handle all of that in such an amazing way while looking after their families and multitasking at the same time. It is in our DNA. A woman who manages a big family can run a corporation as well. The principles are pretty much the same. So, each woman is more than a strong leader in her micro world.
What are the trends in the legal industry in 2022?
Let’s vow to make Bulgaria an indispensable member of the world by stimulating the economy with initiatives like legal process outsourcing. That may create a large number of sustainable new legal and paralegal jobs in 2022 and beyond.
Educated people vs. good people – how important are they for society?
Education and empathy are equally important for a prosperous society. Let us be socially responsible and support campaigns for helping every girl and woman to get real equal access to education and life-long training. In my view, that is the "breakeven point" for meaningful gender equality nationwide across all social layers, including minorities. I do have the vision for supporting that cause.
Self-development is also crucial. Reading books like Think and Grow Rich for Women: Using Your Power to Create Success and Significance by Sharon Lechter can change lives. Focus your mind entirely on what you want to achieve.
Cultivate empathy and goodness in people, as the world history has long proven for well educated but cruel people to generate worst scenarios for humanity.
How to successfully tackle with dishonesty and disgracefulness?
If you come across bad, dishonest people, the only thing that matters is not the fact itself that occurs, but your attitude towards it. Don’t look back. Never give up. Just keep on going with enthusiasm. Respond positively to the situation. Believe that one day you will get where you intend to go.
A tribute to the memory of Prof. Zhana Nikolova-Galabova, the first woman in Bulgaria to dedicate herself to science and to teach at Sofia University. After 1944, she was fired as an "enemy of people" for her German education. She retained the power of spirit, lived 101 years serving linguistic science till the end.
How do you see the future?
It is in my beliefs that Bulgaria is a country of good opportunities. And the coming generations have the power to build a better future.
Our three daughters are the future for my family. They study at Private Primary School "Saint Sofia". Yoana, the eldest one won numerous golden, silver, and bronze medals and distinctions from Olympiads in Mathematics for years.
My advice is to be brave and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, because they might have never seen it before. The American aviation inventor Orville Wright has put it well: “If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advance”.
The value of excellence
Galina Maximova, Co-Managing Partner of Dinkov, Maximova, Ruseva-Savova Law Firm, on the advantage of being intuitive
Galina Maximova was born in Varna, Bulgariа, and obtained her Master of Law degree from Sofia University, Law Faculty. She has also a postgraduate LL.M. degree in European Law from the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands. Galina Maximova started her professional career as a judge at Varna Regional Court and two years later joined the legal team of KPMG Bulgaria. She moved for nine short months with PwC before launching her legal practice. She has more than 25 years of experience in advising multinational and domestic companies of various sectors on their projects and investments in Bulgaria, day-to-day operations and rolling out their compliance programs.
What is your philosophy in running a corporate law firm?
Running a corporate law firm made me take on things I'd never done before. You deploy your energy, curiosity and a high level of communication. You have to properly detect client expectations and bring them to realistic outcomes.
I do feel satisfied and grateful for what I have managed to do. As Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, says: “You can have anything in this world you want if you want it badly enough and you're willing to pay the price.”
What are the advantages of being a woman in the field of legal services?
Intuition, a pretty womanly trait. Business is full of challenges. And intuition is a clear advantage. That is why females are considered as more inspirational and effective CEOs of professional services businesses, as people are the key resource that you have to properly manage. So, I seem to be on the same page with Albert Einstein who said, “The only real valuable thing is intuition.”
How do you motivate and lead your team, what goals do you set?
The goals we set as leaders of our law firm are not just intended to bring business and financial achievement but to also promote personal development and excellence of our team.
I value and serve the people in our team, and they respond to me with the same.
It is so true what Judi Sheppard Missett, founder and CEO of Jazzercise said: “Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are and you can’t lose that way.”
You will be launching a Legal Academy for top-performing students in law, tell us more about the project?
Gradually, the idea of creating an Academy for young talents crystallized. This is an initiative that will be focused on newcomers to the legal profession. The goal is to open the door of certain events in our legal calendar to top-performing graduates and students in law.
Young graduates will have the opportunity to take an active part into our Academy. They will practice, they will learn, they will enjoy and at the end they will receive certificates. Thus, they will be able to see from hands-on experience how “things happen” and to discover their career motivation, even inspiration.
We are working on this concept and plan to launch it this year.
Do Bulgarian women have the opportunity to be leaders outside national borders?
We are proud of so many success stories of talented Bulgarian women who performed best globally. For a small nation like ours that is a "Big thing", indeed.
Among my favorites are the Bulgarian "Golden Girls" from the Mathematics Gymnasiums in Ruse, Varna, Yambol and Sofia High School of Mathematics who won various medals at the International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2020), and the participants in many other international Olympiads. Also, our all-time world champions in rhythmic gymnastics.
Bulgarian women take over top executive positions at a regional level in multinational corporations. A Bulgarian woman is the current chair and MD of the International Monetary Fund. Our breath stops from the song “Izlel e Delyo Haidutin” performed by Valya Balkanska, still traveling through space, the performance of all the Bulgarian female world-renowned opera singers and Olympic champions in various sports. The list is so long. And it is yet to be filled.
All those dreams came true to show that Bulgarian women and girls are unique in all fields of life. I am glad to see that men are proud of our success. We are also proud of men, for example of the 6-years Bulgarian boy who won this month a golden medal in maths and is the number one mathematician child worldwide.
Let us set the goal a Bulgarian woman to be soon ranked amongst the world‘s most powerful women. That would be a good recognition for the state of our female power around the world.
Where are the historical roots of Bulgarian women being so strong and influential?
That is evident from many centuries of our history and eternal literature.
In his novel The Iron Candlestick Dimitar Talev presents diverse prototypes of women leaders in the early 19th century, valid even today, for example:
Sultana – conservative, upholding the ideas and morals of the "old days";
Katerina – a rebel daughter striving for personal freedom and love.
Or the great Baba Tonka from the 19th century who has raised four sons with the clear understanding that they will sacrifice their lives for the liberty of our homeland. Men can also identify with such female heroes.
The prototype of women making their "self-sacrifice" is met for many centuries, including nowadays, upholding ideals for transparency and anti-corruption.
How do you support women’s rights in business and in society, why do you find that important?
Women and men are equal. It just took the world centuries for women to obtain equal voting and labour rights. Let’s see how the landscape may change if women inherit a larger percentage of the world’s fortune over the next 50 years.
I believe that women are best at promoting and defending their rights in business and elsewhere through establishing their growth on excellence and ethics. In that way, they do make their exceptional contribution to society.
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