Legal Pathways: Senior Associate Aleksandra Kostadinova on Blending Passions and Profession

Can you share a personal mantra or philosophy that guides your approach to work?

My mantra is probably something you heard before – “If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything”. For me that means knowing who you are and not being afraid to stand up for something you believe in. I learned the hard way throughout my life and career that you need to stand up for yourself, your ideas and know your worth. Of course, this doesn’t mean losing perspective and not being open to the ideas and views of others, it just reminds me not to lose myself in the process and to stand true to my beliefs and values.

Outside of the office, what are your passions or hobbies, and how do you think they compliment your work?

That is not an easy question because I have a lot of hobbies and passions and it would be difficult to choose only a few to share. Probably the most notable ones are connected to sports and music. I am an avid football and Formula 1 fan as both sports give me something different. Football is a team sport and as such often shows me the value of having a team and support because many cases in our work cannot be solved on your own. On the other hand, much of Formula 1 is entirely and solely down to the driver, and it’s not just talent and effort that counts, but also the quick reaction and decision-making, as well as the ambition and drive of the driver concerned. These are important qualities not only professionally but also personally.

Music is, without a doubt, the most profound passion in my life. I cannot work without it and it brings me something that not a lot of other things can – it can change my mood or amplify my motivation in a span of a song. That is really important because it often helps me solve a complex case or find an alternative solution, providing me with the necessary concentration and at the same time with the encouragement to think outside the box.

In my spare time, I also love to read criminal and fantasy novels, dance, hike and make sweet threats for my family and friends. Also, I love to travel and explore new places and cultures. At first glance, my interests and hobbies are too varied and diverse, but creativity is often about finding connections between two completely unrelated topics. The passion I have for everything I do carries over into my professional work, as my diverse interests often lead to inspiration to solve even the most challenging cases.

Can you share a personal achievement that you’re particularly proud of?

The achievement that I am most proud of so far is passing the securities broker exam conducted by the Financial Supervisory Commission. Math and finance have never been my strength, so when I decided to take the exam and started familiarizing myself with the material I was very worried about how I was going to manage the math problems and calculations. I put in an awful lot of effort and received invaluable help from my colleagues. In the end, we all passed successfully. This achievement showed me once again that hard work and dedication pays off, and that the team helps in times like these. Every day at Progressive Lawyers, I feel the same encouragement and am glad that together we can achieve so much more in the future.

Another accomplishment that I am extremely proud of is enrolling in my Fundamentals of Programming course. The subject matter was again very distant for me, but I wanted to test myself and find out if it was for me. My approach to a task has always been to understand the business, or the client’s need, to dig into the matter and give the best possible solution. This was one of the reasons I signed up for the course. I went through the training but found that this profession was not for me and I am glad that I found the right place in the Progressive team.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

To embrace the risks and take more chances! Looking back I do not regret my personal and professional decisions and I believe when I took a chance it paid more often than not. Also, risk-taking pays off in the future. The experience gained from entering the unknown has given me valuable insights, skills and a deeper understanding of myself. These experiences have expanded my horizons and abilities, often leading to new opportunities and unexpected rewards.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

The most adventurous thing I have done lately is my decision to go hiking and camping in the mountains with friends. The hike was reportedly easy – about 4-5 hours, on relatively flat terrain and with lodges along the way. The weather was nice, but also very sunny. The hike to the first lodge was easy. We carried a tent and warm clothes on our backs and sleeping bags in our hands. Unfortunately just before we left we found that our hiking shoes were not comfortable so we ditched them and went with running shoes – after all, the route would have been easy. We had no idea how wrong we were. The way to the last lodge took 8 hours instead of 4. Along the way, we passed through forest and rugged terrain several times, for which our shoes were completely unsuitable and our backpacks were heavy and uncomfortable. We had no cell coverage and had to go around a herd of cows that had decided to camp on the trail. The trail was also covered with blueberry bushes that impeded free movement. Finally, with much effort and in a very miserable state, we reached the lodge. We set up our tents, ate and life suddenly seemed better. There was still no cell coverage, and the sky was covered with stars as though we were in another world. All the fatigue and hardships were worth it to get to this point. The next day we had coffee and went down another, easier route. I will never forget this hike, because it showed me once again that you should never give up and something wonderful you never imagined could be waiting for you at the end.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your role and why?

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job at Progressive Lawyers is the new challenges we face every day. The firm is focused on new technology, but it is not uncommon for cases with a more traditional focus to come up. Separately, the spectrum of services offered is so large that I have worked on cases I never imagined – from insolvency, public procurement, contracts, to crypto exchanges, asset tokenization and more. Another very important positive of my job is the young and extremely ambitious team of the company. This both allows the development of new innovative ideas and also allows me to pass on my knowledge to my colleagues, which is very rewarding as well. Last but not least I get the opportunity to exercise my creative side and compose, prepare presentations and create marketing materials for the firm. In this way I diversify my legal work and make a modest contribution to the future of Progressive Lawyers.

What has been your most memorable case/project at the firm so far, and what did you learn from it?

Probably the most memorable project that I worked on at the firm so far was my first crypto project. I came from the traditional finance field and everything connected to crypto was foreign and strange to me. I hit the ground running and started with meetings with the clients, drafting documents and in the meantime reaching out to friends and acquaintances asking them to explain to me how the crypto world and Web 3.0 works. My colleagues helped me immensely and soon enough I was comfortable in my new role. A year later I was comfortable leading the meetings with new clients and explaining our services and the procedures all by myself. This was an amazing experience that helped me grow as a professional and I would never forget it.

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