Elena was born into a tennis family. Both her parents were professional tennis players so tennis was in her blood. At the age of 10, she represented Bulgaria for the first time in the under 12’s Junior European Champions in Blois (France). At the age of 12, Elena became number 3 in Europe and at the age of 14 she became number 2 in Europe losing in the final against Monica Seles and in the same category she was in the top 5 in the world.She won singles and doubles tournaments, participated in the Olympic Games in Barcelona 1992, received many trophies as part of the Bundesliga team and played for the German Federation team. Right after she finished playing tennis, Elena started her second career in the world of finance in 2001.
1. So tell us Elena, how did you go from famous tennis player to finance advisor?
It was coincidence or maybe destiny back in 2000. In October 1999 I had a bad sport injury (which was basically the end of my tennis carrier) and had a surgery in a famous sport clinic in Switzerland. During this period I got the opportunity to have interviews for a job in the finance sector: the big Banks were looking for people with contacts and dedicated to the sports & entertainment personalities and glamorous world. In the beginning I was not interested at all, I was just very curious to see what is like to go to a new job interview… until this moment and since my Matura back in Bulgaria I spent 11 years on the professional tennis tour, so all was very new and exciting experience for me. Back at that time I was looking for new and completely different challenges out of the tennis court. I wanted to prove to myself that I could succeed also in other professional fields than the sport. Maybe back then after so many years spent on the tennis court and constantly training since my childhood I was a bit tired of the sport world only. So, I decided to give it a try! I had to go to many finance courses and passed different exams in order to become a private banker. Of course my international contacts that I have maintained during my tennis years were a great advantage when I chose my new career. Also the language ability (I speak English, German, Russian, Bulgarian and other Eastern European languages) were of a big advantage too. After 10 years experience in the big Banks, since 2010 I’m managing partner in a asset management company in Zürich and happy to be my own boss again.
2. And who do you owe your success to?
I believe big part of my success and specially in the earlier years in the tennis career, I owe to my parents and their tremendous support and devotement.
I think it is also thanks to my character of being very ambitious, hard worker, dedicated and focused person following the set goals in life.
3. What gives you more joy tennis or finance?
Tennis is always a big joy for me! I still love to play and miss the competition feeling. I’m sure that without tennis I will not be where I’m now and have all this success in the finance world too. The tennis career was a great school for life!
4. Which is a ” must- do” in a woman’s professional life?
Very well organized and especially when having a family and children. Of course also discipline and confidence.
5. Which is your favorite place in Switzerland?
Tessin! I prefer the warmer and also more sunny weather there.
6. And your recommended restaurant?
In Zürich I like the club HAUTE and the restaurant Seerose, because of the nice view, atmosphere and food. In general my favorite cuisines are Bulgarian and Italian. I love the small and very charming restaurants with excellent food in Tessin and places like Gandria, for example the “Locanda Gandriense”.
7. Which website/ magazine inspires you?
Unfortunately most of my time I look at financial websites and magazines, which are not always very inspiring! I like sport magazines and websites, for example the official homepage of WTA Tour. I like also fashion magazines like Zurich Deluxe and Vogue, but also other magazines like Der Spiegel and Focus which are presenting different world issues.
8. Where would you get lost in Zurich?
In Sprüngli at Paradeplatz and in the small charming streets in the old part of the city with nicely maintained historical houses, some great boutiques and also coffee places.
9. And your favourite holiday destination?
At the moment for me and my family is absolutely Dubai! Not only because of the warm and sunny weather, but also thanks to close relatives living currently there and who show us always new inspiring and beautiful places and enjoying a great time together!
10. What can’t you live without?
My family, sport activities and my Blackberry.
11. Which food would we always find in your fridge?
Fruits and vegetables. As a former professional sport person I try to keep healthy and balanced nutrition habits in the family and this is very important for us.
12. And finally, which item identifies you?
My sport equipment, my Blackberry and my Montblanc agenda.