Trust your instincts to take you to great places

April 1, 2016

Explorer. Risk taker. Door opener.

Growing up in Bulgaria, Albena Pergelova not only had a front-row seat for the country’s shift to a free market economy—she was part of it.

“I was fortunate to belong to a generation that had new opportunities,” she says. “When I was in my early 20s, I was working in Bulgaria’s Ministry of Finance and we were finishing the country’s negotiations to join the European Union. The project was worth several million euros, so when my boss at the time asked me to take over leading the team while she was on vacation, I didn’t know what to think. I was fresh from my master’s in business and the rest of my team was equally young and inexperienced. But we did it. I remember how impressed our German partners were with our work. It was so empowering and gave me the confidence to take on almost anything.”

“ At the end of the day, that’s what higher education is really about—empowering people to do what they want to do and achieve their dreams.” 

The next thing Albena decided to take on was a PhD, which took her to Spain, Sweden and the U.S. looking at entrepreneurship in different cultures and countries.

“People couldn’t understand why I would leave such a great job and venture into something completely different, but I always thought of teaching as a noble profession. And I grew up with an entrepreneurial father who was a bit of a rebel—entrepreneurs sometimes are. He wasn’t afraid to take on risk and do something when it felt right.”

So Albena followed her father’s entrepreneurial lead, and more than once left something stable behind for a new opportunity that was interesting but had no guarantees.

“When something feels right, I do it,” says Albena. “That’s how I decided to pursue teaching. It was always in the back of my mind—I had a great human resources professor in university who made her students feel confident and empowered, and I want to have that kind of impact on other people.”

Empowerment is a thread that also runs through Albena’s research—she studies female and aboriginal entrepreneurship, and consumer empowerment—and it’s a constant in her classroom.

“At the end of the day, that’s what higher education is really about—empowering people to do what they want to do and achieve their dreams.”

Albena Pergelova is an associate professor in the Bachelor of Commerce program. Find out more at MacEwan.ca/BCOM


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