Lady Boss - The smiling face of success

 Chervilo Magazine


Text: Dimitrina Chakarova
Photos: Vladimir Kotzev

I am almost sure that she has been born not like the other people crying but with a smile on her face. She has the skills to communicate with ease and to go through the everyday tasks patiently and selflessly.  During the last year she has given herself to her work in hotel Radisson SAS. She represents the new meaning of the word business lady. This is a woman that is perfect in her career, in her outlook, the relationships with people, and she is also vivid, positive and charming. She speaks perfect some languages and is a very charismatic company. Her interests are many – she loves the good music, the good book and the shopping. Silvia is looking after the guests in the hotel and after her 16-year-old daughter Alexandra with ease. Alexandra won the contest for Super Model Ford Models, Bulgaria in 2003.

The last one year Silvia Todorova works as Sales & Marketing director at the Radisson SAS hotel.  She has been a sales representative for Bulgaria of Swissair. Before that she was a training coordinator in hotel Sheraton and a manager of the night club in the same hotel. She has been trying a lot of professional challenges and she thinks that the change is very important for her life. She is born on the 7th – the number of the change and she is provoked for new challenges all the time.

How did you get to the tourism business and the hotel industry? Do you remember the beginning?

I am born in Varna and since I was a child, I had the possibility to live abroad, thanks to my parents. They worked in Tunis and I was studying in a French college. Speaking different languages since I was a child, made my choice easier – the possibility to communicate with people, to travel around the world, to know different cultures. My family and I, were travelling twice a year so it was absolutely consequent decision my future professional development to be related with tourism. I was interested also in Journalism(my mother was a journalist) and in Law – my grandfather was a really good lawyer. Honestly, I didn’t have to study for exams to be accepted Tourism as I graduated a French college. In the summer of 1983, the parties were so many that I made the easiest thing – I applied for International Tourism. So I occurred in the Tourism University in Varna and started working in the resort of Golden Sands. My work was with all kinds of French, English and Russian speaking groups. This is how I find myself in the sphere of Tourism. 

Is it necessary to go through all levels of work to be really good in the hotel business?

I think that every person should start from the lowest level and go ahead and get experience and knowledge if he/ she wants to build a career and develop him / herself in a definite business. I was  student, when I started to work as a waitress in a restaurant. Honestly, when I was 18 and  was ashamed when I had to serve to the tourists.  Then, I realized that every job has to be respected if you do it correctly. The second year I decided that I am really good in communication, organizing, convincing, and that is why I started to work in the Culture & Information Center in Golden Sands. There I was organizing events and show programs – we were interpreting lectures for Bulgaria to the foreigners, spectacles with Bulgarian folklore dances, fishing contests, summer Neptune carnivals and much more. 

Was the road from Varna to Sofia long?

The road seemed to be very short… (laughing). I just fell in love very fast in my husband, already ex husband. In 1987 I came in Sofia, I married, then my daughter was born, I moved my education here in the Sofia University, because then I was studding second bachelor degree French philology in the University of Veliko Tarnovo. Then I occurred in the real hotel business.  I was a mother; my child was three years old and I decided to look for a job here in Sofia. I applied for a job in hotel “Sheraton” because at that time that was the only hotel of high class. They rejected my application at the first time – well, I have always been loyal and fair and I couldn’t lie. I was studding at that time and this was a problem for the HR of the hotel. So the lady from “Human Resources” decided that I couldn’t start work because I am a student. I was very upset! In spite of this, I was absolutely sure that this was the company I should and I am going to work for. Six months later, I changed my hair and dyed it; I lied(not mentioning my student booklet) and applied for the job again in hotel Sheraton.  This time I was approved. I started as a deputy manager of the Vienna Café, then manager of the summer terrace. After we closed the terrace, I became a manager of the main restaurant. Three months later I was invited to start as the manager of the night club and I accepted.  There was a lot of work, because it included everything – organizing different types of show, selection of performers, selection of songs, the choreography of the ballet, managing the whole team – I still keep in contact with many ballet dancers and persons from my team.
Actually, if there is no change in my life I can’t be happy. I love to communicate with people, to discuss with them the good and bad things from life, to give them positive energy with my good mood. All this is communication – I think that this is my vocation. My smile and my character are dedicated to people and I earn a lot with them.

Well, people don’t know what they really want and what they really can do. If a person succeeds to find himself, he / she knows how to continue to climb the stairs.

Isn’t it difficult to be always in good shape?
When you have positive thinking everything happens with ease. I repeat this all the time to everyone. I think that people don’t know what they really want and what they really can do. If a person succeeds to find himself, he / she knows how to continue to climb the stairs. I wake up in the mornings with the thought that everything that happens to me had to happen – there is a reason for everything. I wake up in the mornings with the thought that today is going to be a perfect day. Everyday I learn something. I am not one of those people that depress themselves. Whatever happens to me, I believe that I had to go that way – for good or bad. I will give you an example – one Friday night an ATM swallowed my credit card. At that time I had almost no money and I was going to have money after the weekend. I had no money at home. I had been thinking of travelling with my daughter and we cancelled the trip. Instead of getting angry, I decided that there must be a reason for what happened and that I have to stay in Sofia. On the next day we went to a technique hypermarket and bought 5 things with credit. I just didn’t know that this is possible here in Bulgaria. If the ATM hadn’t swallowed my credit card, I wouldn’t have bought a new DVD, camera, a new little table for the TV, a new TV. Well, yes, there is a reason for everything?!
The ancient philosophers have said that the truth is born from pain. I like to read psychological books but I started with literature from Ancient Greece – reading books with the years gives you experience and a strong desire for development and knowledge. I think that I should be very grateful to my family, to my parents, and my grandparents who were very ambitious. They really wanted me to study. Actually, man brings up.  My grandmother read to me French poetry since I was a little child. I still bring some notes from her. She had written them to me, to study and live according them: Si tu veux, tu peux, which means “If you want, you can”. The others were “Do good to everybody”, “Be with nature more often”, “When you fight with someone, you should never remember the past”, “Love your children as they are”. I read them every day and I never forget to do it.

Do you have your private life away from the business? 

I admit it is very hard at the moment. My position in the hotel is very high since last year and although my friends don’t believe me, I am busy all the time.  Working in a hotel means to be here in the morning, before the guests wake up, to see how the breakfast is made, to see how they are doing in the beginning of the day, to read the news. Then you organize the meetings and the dinner. When there are events, I meet with clients, I attend the events till late at night. In this way people will know that they can rely on me and the hotel and that Radisson is the hotel in which they can organize their events and to accommodate their guests. My job is great but the dedication is absolute.
Lately, there was a contest in the hotel for new employees. Then I said to the young boys and girls: “If you are not ready to dedicate yourself to the job for a year as a beginning, you better don’t start!”. My true friends don’t get mad of me, but I haven’t seen one of my best friends for 7 months. It is true that on this position my private life is on second place. I know that I don’t spend enough time with my daughter but I know that she understands me. What really makes me happy is that she is studding in a good school and gives attention to French, English and Russian. She travels with me, but the teachers say that she is doing good and this makes me smile. 

You don’t look like the stereotype for a business lady – serious and cold. 

I would like the concept for business lady to be different from the definition of hard –grained. This is my style and I think that the fact I have lived among foreigners has influenced me a lot. Before 1989 there were a lot of restrictions. The education and my life abroad made me the person I am – open-minded and very direct. I am ready on the third minute of a conversation even with the Prime minister to start talking freely and with a true smile, to break up the wall and to succeed in the deal that we are discussing. If the person in front of me is sincere, the things happen. Of course there should be also knowledge and intelligence. This is my method – a lot of people have said to me that communication is my strong skill.

Have you ever failed in convincing the person in front of you? 

It happened twice. The first time was last summer. I tried to help a friend in his private business. I went to a 5-star hotel in Golden Sands with the intention to work up his night club. I decided that the spectacle of Lily Ignatova will be great for a nice and pleasant place. The club was perfect for this. The tourists that were coming liked the show very much. Unfortunately, it occurred that it is not economically successful. Then I met with a representative of a tour operator, and I couldn’t break the ice between us. I didn’t succeed in convincing him to come and see the program and that we need the tourists he was working with.

Did you accept that as a failure?

This was the first time when I couldn’t convince someone in something. Firstly, I have to understand the needs of the person – then I have to offer to him/her something that is going to satisfy them.  If you can ask the right questions and receive the right information, to know what to offer then the things happen. 
I think that this also can be learned. The truth is – you have to be born naturally with a smile. Well, at least for the needs of our profession, the area of services. If you are not born naturally with a smile then don’t work with people – there are other spheres of business. 
Lately, there was a contest in the hotel for new employees, but it was not the traditional interview. The people had to play puzzles, to go under the table with a tray full of glasses and bottles, to make the beds, to draw pictures – we wanted to see if they were going to play in a team or individually. There were some girls who said: “I came to become a housemaid, not an artist.” So this kind of person doesn’t fit with our business because you have to dedicate yourself without reserve.

When you are in another hotel – do you comment the staff if you see that something is not the way it should be? 

I don’t have this right. Once I was at the opening of a hotel, I noticed some disadvantages from the beginning and I said what I have seen. Of course, I knew the person from the hotel. There was another case in another hotel. I sat in the garden and I found out that the chairs have some very uncomfortable prickles. There were some pillows at the other side of the garden. So these are the two cases when I commented to the staff. But we, the hoteliers, have professional bugs. Well, if I am in a restaurant I will never make a notice how the cutlery are put on the table.

Do you have a typical women mania?

Do I know what does typical women mania mean? Once I was a great housewife. This proceeded when I was married. I love to cook and to make my home cozy – the things that are activities for the ladies – beautiful and responsible. I love shopping, but a lot of men love to go shopping too, so I already don’t know if it is only a ladies’ activity… (laughing). I love to go on a massage.
I relax with music – I don’t know if my mother listened to music when she was pregnant, but I live with music – it is everywhere with me – in the office, at home, in the car. When I feel tired I lie down in a big massage chair, which I have recently bought, I turn on the music, light with candles and relax. I have a favorite disc - India Airy. I bought it in Miami – jazz blues, it is perfect. I love to walk in the nature – to climb peaks and to go down after that. I love when my whole body feels the pain after that. I play table tennis and my daughter and I love to go rolling and cycling.

Is she the most important person in your life? You speak about her often. 

Yes, she is definitely the most important person in my life. My family also is very important – my mother, my father and my two brothers. My true friends, lovely relatives (I have a lot of cousins, my mother’s family) are also important for me. We keep in very warm relationships. This is a great wealth. Alexandra has often said to me that a person like me, always sincerely helping others, is going to have always true friends.  
Three years ago I had to change my apartment. I decided to buy one and to stop moving from one to another place. I wanted to do everything at once and I needed a lot of money. I asked my friends. They immediately helped me and we made it perfect. I took the old furniture from my grandparents’ house and they came with their energy. I had dreams with them three nights – no one can say to me that there is no relation…

Are you religious?

No, I am not.

What do you believe in?

I believe in faith, I believe that there is nothing by accident and that if there is love and goodness, there will be also better times. 

I think that most of the Bulgarian men are with complexes and don’t respect enough the women. I have been said that  men are scared of me because I am a strong, independent woman.

With this so dynamic life, is there a man in it?

There has been always a man in my life. I just need to be in love. I don’t like the short relationships. My marriage lasted 7 years, and then I had a long relationship that lasted 9 years (he played the piano, soul mate).  I’m a very good friend with both of them. I have said to my husband that I am going to have relationships with three men one after another, because I can not live only with one man all my life.  I always knew that. I left my husband when I met my second long relationship – I couldn’t be in love with the two of them at the same time. Then I said to him that there is going to be a third man in my life. Well, now I see that I give too much energy in the hotel and for a year I haven’t felt that I miss a man in my life. I don’t have any time.  I think that this month I am going to have more time and the next prince is going to appear. This time I have decided my boyfriend to be a foreigner. I think that most of the Bulgarian men are with complexes and don’t respect enough the women. I have been said that men are scared of me because I am a strong, independent woman.

What are the next peaks you are going to climb? Have you thought about them or they are just appearing in front of you?

They appear very fast in life. As a big peak in my life I have the intention to have my own hotel, but I still don’t know when it is going to happen.  For the last years of my life, this is my desire. It should be in the mountain, but not in Bulgaria. I am going to manage it and I will know how to do it from A to Z.  Recently I have an idea for a TV show. I also think of an event management company, but I am still not sure if the private business is good for me. There is a chance my daughter to travel and live in France or Italy and I think that the destiny is going to show me the way.  When the opportunity comes and says to me – do this, I just do it. I really want to have my own hotel and to know that I have a real man next to me. A foreigner.