Elena Trifonova, Head of legal, Sofia France Auto
How long have you been working for your current company?
I have been working for Sofia France Auto since 2001.
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I started my professional development as a junior associate at a lawyer’s office while I was a third-year law student in university. I worked there for four years. After that, I joined the team of Sofia France Auto where I am still employed today.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
When I started my career at Sofia France Auto, I was the only in-house lawyer for the company and its holding firms and I had just finished my education. As the firm grew and the work increased, I had to create a department to meet the growing need for qualified in-house legal specialists. I am happy that I had a chance to prove and develop myself as a lawyer and a leader too.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
The greatest challenge for me always and every day is ambition to excel at my job. I love my trade and I want to stay current with any developments in the field. There is endless knowledge which awaits me and challenges me every minute to learn, to create, to apply.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this
I am one of these people who loves to be busy and working. When one possesses this passion in her heart she is happy being tired from a long day of work. My husband is hard working too and I suppose this also helps us not to get bored with each other. I love very much to travel abroad because this helps me to change the environment totally and recharge myself. With foreign sounds, smells and views I forget of the daily work pressure. And when I return from vacation I am refreshed and ready to face the work challenges.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who were they and how did they help you?
I cannot name a single person who has played this particular role in my life. But, I can say that I always learn from people which I respect. I think that developing yourself is a lifelong mission.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
In Bulgaria, corporate diversity initiatives are just starting to grow in popularity and there is a lot that can be done to introduce and establish such practices in the corporate arena.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
I think that women still have to work more than men for their position in business. But things are changing for the better. I personally feel that women are much better in negotiations because they are calmer than men and are better at overcoming differences. Exactly in these types of situations I feel the advantage of being a woman.
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
In Bulgaria there has always been strong female presence in the legal field. Nowadays, we witness a period when there are more women than men in the field. The trends show that in 10 years the correlation will be 70% women and 30% men in the field.