Issue 167-168

PHILIPPE ROUVRAIS: HOW TO SUCCEED IN TURBULENT TIMES

2020 is a year that forced almost all businesses of importance to redefine their business model in order to survive and even to grow. The IT outsourcing sector is one of the most interesting cases. A pillar of modern global economy, the field faced challenges such as decreased levels of overall economic activity, but on the other hand was better prepared for working under stressful conditions.

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MATTER OF NUMBERS

Six months after the Covid-19 pandemic forced the world into lockdowns and uncertainties, a fuller picture of its effect on the world economy is beginning to emerge. Bulgaria fared not too bad, according to recent statistical data.

According to Eurostat, in the second quarter of 2020 Bulgaria's GDP fell 9.8 percent in comparison to the same period of 2019. The result is better than in most of the EU, where average GDP fell by 14.4 percent and France experienced a decrease of 19 percent.

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TRAVELS IN DOGANLANDIA

A circle of privileged companies formed around whoever happens to be in power? Construction of EU-funded guesthouses that in reality are luxurious private villas? Controlled media used to smear political opponents, business competition, independent journalists and whistleblowers? If you ask the ordinary Bulgarian, one particular party has been responsible for all the troubles that have befallen Bulgaria over the past 30 years: the DPS, or Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

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NESEBAR

There is a silver lining to the sharp decline in international tourism in Bulgaria in 2020. You can now see Nesebar, one of this nation's most impressive towns, without hordes of Brits and Scandinavians still hungover from the previous-evening's pub crawl at Sunny Beach resort.

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CINEMAS OF COMMUNISM

A few years ago, a niece of mine, a young teenager from a mid-sized Bulgarian town, got into a bitter dispute with her best friend who happened to live in the larger Ruse, over one question: what is a cinema? A cinema is a place where people go to watch movies, the girl from Ruse said. No, cinemas are shopping centres, my niece insisted.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

The danger comes when a sheep flock decides to become a wolf pack. Then comes the time for the shepherd to raise his stick and force the flock back into the pen.

Valentin Kasabov, MP for National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria, about the antigovernment protests

Borisov behaves like a karate player at a chess game. You move the figures and he kicks the board.

Slavi Trifonov, TV anchor and leader of the There is Such a People party

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EAGLES BRIDGE

In the summer of 2020, a bridge in Sofia has persistently been in the news. Bulgarians demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev barricaded Eagles Bridge, disrupting traffic and attracting media attention.

Why this particular bridge?

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LESICHERI COLUMN

North-central Bulgaria is not famed for its historical landmarks. It is a region of rolling hills and soft valleys, of small forests and economically depressed villages and towns where, even on the brightest days, grey is the predominant colour. It is as if generations of people concluded that the landscape was good enough for farming, but not inspiring enough for the creation of something remarkable – a city, a temple, a legend.

As with most appearances, this one is deceptive. This region is the home of one of Bulgaria's most curious ancient monuments: an obelisk.

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WATERMELONS, WATERMELONS, WATERMELONS

Bulgarians use the expression "to carry two watermelons under one arm," which roughly translates us "running after two hares." But when you see the enthusiasm with which Bulgarians consume watermelons in summertime, you might easily think that carrying two watermelons under the armpit is the norm. Tarator, the ubiquitous albeit slightly unusual for Western palates cold soup, still keeps its reputation as the best way of dealing with the summer heat, but watermelons come a very close second.

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DISCOVERING OUZO

The pines cast a dappled shade on our table and the cool sea is lapping at our feet, the rumble of pebbles drowned by the ecstatic chirping of the cicadas. "There is one thing Westerners won't ever get about us Greeks," says our host, dreamily, while a waitress approaches our table, an overloaded tray in her hands.

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ALONE TOGETHER

We're in the time of COVID-19, and I'm in the southernmost country in the world, save for New Zealand and Antarctica.

Restrictions are in place, although I read that ours are nothing like the lockdowns elsewhere around the world. Most days I feel lucky, although this is not luck that you'd necessarily want. It's fate at its purest; my parents moved from the United Kingdom more than forty years ago and settled us first in New Zealand, and then Australia. There but for the grace of a job offer go I and my family into most people's current reality.

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SECURE HOME FOR THE BUSINESS

What will be the future of office spaces and work processes? The Covid-19 pandemic forced us to rethink our ideas of what workspace should look like and function. Some specialists were even quick to announce the death of the office spaces, pointing out the large number of companies who transitioned to home operations during the lockdown.

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OUTSOURCING FUTURE

The unforeseen Covid-19 pandemic that shook the world in 2020 put to humanity and global industry a lot of questions whose answers are yet to be found. One thing can be said with a high-degree of certainty, though: the IT and BPO outsourcing sector is bound to become one of the most able to adapt to and to benefit from the changed environment.

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SAFETY FIRST

Strict personal hygiene, mask-wearing, social distancing – these are the three rules we need to oblige to if we want to reduce the spread of Covid-19. But while following these rules is not that hard when we are for a short period of time on public transport, at the supermarket or in an administrative building, the situation changes significantly when a longer stay is considered.

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FUTURE TENSE SUCCESS

The success of an individual, an idea or a company is often hard to predict. But if there is a factor that increases exponentially the probability for future success, this is the good education of all involved in the initiative.

What does good education look like in 2020?

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