Petia Dimitrova: Customer digital user experience is a key for the new banking model


9 March 2018


Petia Dimitrova is Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Management Board of Postbank. She is also member of the management boards of the Association of Banks in Bulgaria, the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria (CEIBG), BORICA, Atanas Bourov Foundation, Endeavor Bulgaria Association, and the International Banking Institute. Ms. Dimitrova is also member of the University Council of the American University in Bulgaria, member of the Young Global Leaders Forum, part of the World Economic Forum, as well as member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), etc. She has received over 20 prestigious awards, the latest of these the Atanas Bourov Foundation award for banking and finance management for 2017, Banker of the Year for 2015, and Mrs. Economy for 2015 from Ikonomika Magazine and CEIBG.
Ms. Dimitrova, you have received prestigious awards for business achievements and contribution to the development of society. You have recently received one of the most important banking awards on the Bulgarian market – the Bourov award for 2017. What does this prize mean to you? Is the statuette “heavy”?
- It is a great honor and privilege for me to win this prize. This is one of the greatest accolades a banker can ever receive. I am happy that at Postbank I work with people who love challenges, are not afraid to work at a fast pace and pursue their goals until they achieve them. It is a compliment for me that I am among the few managers who have won the award since its establishment back in 1994. The statuette is “heavy” not only in the literal sense of the word. It symbolizes the responsibility we bear for the development of Bulgarian banking and traditions. We are the modern followers of Atanas Bourov and his ideas for building a prosperous economy and a modern financial system. We are the people who should be the ambassadors of these ideas and pass them on through our experience and professionalism to future business talents, we should support and motivate the young generation of bankers. I am happy that the Bourov Foundation continues to encourage persistent young people, as they are our future.
Why did you choose finance and banking as your profession? When did you realize you wanted to do exactly that?
- This question takes me back to the time when I managed to make my professional dream come true. I wanted to help people successfully implement their financial plans, be happy and achieve success. Working with numbers has always fascinated me, but I have long since learned to look beyond numbers and think in an innovative way.
I have been with Postbank since 2003. I started as CFO, and in 2012 I accepted the offer to become CEO. I am happy with what I do. The real key to success for me is to love what you do, be persistent and not be afraid of work. Managing a large financial institution is a great responsibility and requires full dedication, but for me it is a great pleasure. When you work with your heart, you cannot help but be satisfied with what you have achieved. I am glad that at the end of the working day I have new ideas for the next one. That’s how the people on my team feel. It is important not only to have a vision, but to take a series of large or small steps to achieve it and to never stop moving forward. As far as the young talents in our bank are concerned, I encourage them to be brave.
What are the principles you insist on, regardless of the circumstances?
- I insist on honesty, loyalty, professionalism and responsibility towards work. I appreciate curiosity and creativity, as well as people who know how to learn on the go. For me as a manager, it is important that all members of the team treat each other with respect. I like to set a goal, but I let my team supplement it with more fresh and interesting ideas. Over the years, I have learned not to spare praise, but also to demand more from the team, and to say “no” when necessary. My door is always open. I am a good listener, and this skill helps a lot in our work.
From your position as a manager of a successful and modern bank, what are your tips for Bulgarian employers regarding people? What are the good practices that brought Postbank the Employer of the Year award for a preferred employer brand back in January?
- A company’s greatest strength is the team. It is no coincidence that this statement has become a cliché because it is true. My advice to all managers is to take care of people’s motivation and their development as professionals. To encourage them not to give up their ideas, to be brave and to have the courage to see the advantages in the unusual. If we want to achieve results, we must focus on creative inspiration, initiative and empathy, and they are greatly influenced by the work environment. This factor should not be underestimated. As a manager, I always think in two directions – about the customer experience and about the satisfaction of my team.
The good practices of our bank include various projects for improving the work environment, opportunities for professional development and engaging employees in initiatives to protect the environment and support society. For me, one of the best ways to build an employer brand is to involve people in what the company does in the field of sustainable development. I believe that one has to study constantly, so we conduct various training programs and trainings. I often assign tasks to people to provoke them to be curious and get out of their comfort zone.
What modern solutions complement the expertise of your people? There is also talk of changing the banking model. How is this change happening in Postbank?
- Modern solutions are created as a team effort. We are a team and we discuss and develop all innovative ideas together. And thanks to technological innovations, today the banking model has already changed. Consumer expectations are higher. The digital customer experience is a key in the new banking model. Every day, every week, every month, something small happens that changes the environment.
The digital transformation of the banking sector is challenging, time consuming and requires commitment. At Postbank, we continue to develop and introduce innovative and useful products and services for our customers. For modern consumers, who are looking for quick financing in a convenient location and use digital solutions for their transactions, we have created an entirely new consumer lending brand, Momento. We have a strategic focus and we make serious investments in this type of specialized service in the consumer lending segment. We continue to develop our digital banking channels. In 2017, we reported an annual growth of 60 percent in user online banking registrations, as well as a 53 percent hike in the active use of this service. Our goal is to constantly improve the overall customer experience related to the use of banking products and everyday banking.
What are the things that matter to you and which you make time for?
- My days are usually very dynamic, but over the years I have learned to find a balance between personal and work commitments. Professionally, it is important for me to be with my team, I try to spend time communicating with the people around me. This approach greatly facilitates the work process, and so ideas are born that “change the game.” As far as my personal life is concerned, I like to spend time with my family. At this time of year, for example, we go skiing together. These are our little moments when we have fun together.