Shuangyi Li, raised in rural China, was forced to drop out of middle school at thirteen and in a Mandarin-only environment, taught herself English by memorizing Shakespeare plays and listening to the BBC. Her imagination and personal philosophy gave her the focus to surmount her difficult circumstances and learn about the wider world through English language literature. She immersed herself in mastering the Guzheng, an ancient Chinese musical instrument and challenged her tenacity on unforgiving hundred-kilometer bicycle rides in the Guizhou Mountains, always seeking to move the balance between the impossible and the attainable. A chance encounter on the bus forever changed her life, providing an off-ramp from the bridge she had built herself out of China through self-examination and determined study. After graduating from one of the most academically rigorous American colleges, Shuangyi is on to the next chapter of her life, continuing her search for meaning and change. Shuangyi is also a painter, a photographer and occasional model. She cares about positive social impact through story-telling and socially conscious business practices. She is working on her memoir to document her extraordinary journey.
If he is travelling more than 250 days / year can we call Ivan Zorzetto a spirit without boundaries? We know for sure that his dreams and plans are most vivid and whirling in his mind while he is up in the sky, flying above the clouds. 11 years at his desk as a hotel receptionist gave him plenty of knowledge about human nature. And encouraged him to start an international consulting career to help turn every project into a success story. He has the soul of a musician (like all Italians do), and he is a free spirit riding his bike whenever he has private time for himself.
„My life has always been a race with time and discipline, plus some hint of La Dolce Vita. My success is a projection of my efforts and a bunch of few simple rules that I apply every day – lots of emotion, hard work, persistence, positive thinking. The will is strengthened with every breath and effort, and ordeals are served to us by destiny to test our readiness. The test in my life caused also a great restart and brought me even bigger thirst for emotions, dedication to people and transformation. I believe that everything happens for a reason and the future success of a person is based on his actions today.“
With the help of his violin Ivan Zorzetto will take you on a journey into a world of impossible challenges. And high achievements.
When you graduate from Harvard Business School as a student of Michael Porter, all roads turn into highways. Especially in the USA. Kiril Petkov, however, decided to take the road back home and to make his American dream come true in Bulgaria. He wanted to prove that Bulgaria’s potential can conquer the world. Kiril created ProViotic, the world’s only biovegan probiotic. Oprah Winfrey started taking it, Novak Djokovic, as a vegan tennis player, also became a client. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about it and things took off. Today the product is being sold in 4500 pharmacies in the US.
Kiril stayed connected to Harvard. In 2007 within the Department of Economy at Sofia University he initiated the so-called Harvard courses. This is a free program for 60 students per annum selected from a pool of 240 applicants. Then Kiril donated 500,000 leva to create a Center for Applied Research and Innovations at the Faculty of Biology. In thе spring of 2019 he was awarded the big prize Honorable Bulgarians.
Kiril Petkov believes that long term positive change in Bulgaria will happen only through the education of a critical mass of young people who understand how to do business internationally without depending on predetermined state orders, and who will win on the global market.
And to prove so he gives his students free access to the laboratories in his Center where they can experiment to create products, services and patents in biotechnologies.
'The Inner Life of the Cell' movie shows the smallest component of the human body as a large, bustling, hugely complicated city that's occupied by micro-machines. “They power how a cell moves. They power how a cell replicates. They power our hearts. They power our minds.”
This is what David Bolinsky, the creator of the animation that changed the way Biological Science is being taught at Harvard, says. His groundbreaking 8-minute film, watched by more than 20 million people worldwide, introduced an entirely new way of visualizing molecular and cellular biology, validating his desire as a teen to become the first 3D digital “medical animator” – and despite the dean at his university medical school telling him “there is no place for cartoons in medicine”. A visionary and a charismatic dreamer, who transforms boring Biology and Anatomy classes into attractive experiences, David is helping students to easily connect learned facts in Molecular and Cellular Biology.
In a project for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation David worked on the creation of an educational animated interactive online biology course for students in US Community Colleges. Students can literally “fly” into the models of a neuron, bacterial cell and plant cell, move the proteins, add and remove substances and see what the results are. Virtual and augmented reality are new fields of development for animated education. Currently David Bolinsky and his team are creating the first Molecular and Cellular Biology course on Insects, for students in secondary school, encouraging young people not only to learn, but to continue and upgrade their education. And even if they don’t become scientists, they would grow up as science-literate citizens.
When we hear that a young Bulgarian is employed by one of the FAANG companies, namely Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, we say “Well done”. When that Bulgarian turns out to be a woman successfully worked for both Google and Apple, it’s a remarkable achievement! Well, Tea Kuseva has experienced both the sweet and the sour of being inside these tech giants. Today, she is the Co-Founder of DATEL Productions, an experiential event production studio and an official Microsoft Partner.
After graduating from the Anglo-American School of Sofia, she goes on to continue her studies at Regent’s University London specializing in Event Management. Highly ambitious and dedicated to her studies, she becomes the recipient of the “Best Event Management Student” award. Her determination helps her land her first job at Google. After learning the ropes, she moves on to become an International Event Producer at Apple, a position compelling her to cross the Atlantic every few months. She soon learns that career dedication almost certainly brings opportunities for professional growth; however, very often these come at a price. Sacrifices in other aspects of one’s life are inevitable. Tea will be exploring this topic further during her presentation in Sofia.
Throughout her international experiences Tea develops invaluable event management skills and falls in love with spreadsheets. One of the tools she develops was acknowledged and adopted by Apple itself. Realizing she no longer needs the crutches of a big corporation, Tea decided to take a risk and… currently, DATEL Productions is crafting the largest gathering of Excel professionals in the world.
Miroluba Benatova is probably the most awarded investigative reporter / journalist in Bulgaria. Her career of 26-years is a bright reflection of her intuitively strong feel for the right details in the news. Even without formal journalistic education, she spent her first 7 years in “168 hours” newspaper and after that she successfully made the switch from the Dictaphone to a microphone. Her honest 50 documentaries are the unquestionable reason Miroluba to be nominated as “Reporter of the Decade” at bTV. And to be included among the 100 most influential women in Bulgaria.
At bTV Mira investigated the participation of Bulgarians in the traffic of cocaine and the fraudulent ways our gypsies used to milk the Dutch social security system. Her findings about kidney traffic brought her global recognition and a prize from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in the USA. Following the suspension of “Hounds” (her show at bTV) Benatova moved to work for Nova TV, where she investigated the routines of organized beggars in Sweden, as well as the Bulgarian participation in the prostitution business in Brussels. She is also the author of a series of films presenting the stories of successful Bulgarians in the USA.
What is not mentioned in her official biography is that for the last two years Mira has been practicing parachute jumping. And today all Bulgaria is aware that for a couple of months, after being forced to quit Nova TV, Miroluba Benatova has become a licensed taxi driver. Today she is practicing her journalistic skills as a hobby.
Iain Jackson has made nature conservation his profession, his cause and his passion for much of his life. His journey of exploration and discovery started in Canada as a youth and has led him to Japan, Kenya, Thailand and many places in between, and now, ultimately, to Bulgaria. He has worked with large mammals such as tigers and elephants in two continents, has a deep interest in the global black-market wild life trade and a particular passion for working with traditional communities to empower them and find better solutions to the issues they face in the ever-changing modern world.
As Conservation Director of WWF Bulgaria, Iain is playing a key role in shaping the national strategy of WWF Bulgaria and working with experts to protect this “Green Heart of Europe”.
He talks about our country with passion and love, and his strong belief in Bulgaria’s potential empowers him to look to the future and through peer mentoring, youth empowerment and engaging with visionary people across various sectors, he wants to encourage Bulgarian citizens to fight for the last of the best of green Europe and become guardians of this country’s natural legacy.
At first glance, some of his activities may sound distant and mysterious, but Iain's enlightening passion gives them an air of heroism. You will see for yourself. At TEDxVitosha 2020.
He has just come back from the climbing of his 10th 8000 m summit. He is an entomologist and the Green Person of Bulgaria for 2019. Dr. Atanas Skatov is a radiant boy with a long braid, a person of high integrity and firm resolutions, who endlessly loves Bulgarian folklore dances.
His achievements are mind-blowing: Dr Skatov is the first and only Bulgarian vegan to climb within 6 years and 9 months the Seven highest summits on the continent and 11 summits above 8000 m; the first and only Bulgarian to climb within one year, in 140 days 4 summits above 8000 m; the first and only Bulgarian to climb Mount Everest twice – through the North and South ridge; the first Bulgarian to attack 3 summits above 8000 m within 23 days – Anapurna, Dhaulagiri and Makalu in May 2016. He has completed the fastest Bulgarian climbing of a summit above 8000 m – Makalu (8481 m) in 94 hours – with only one overnight sleep at the base camp and a world record until May 2019.
It is not “for the record only”. Between expeditions Atanas Skatov is a skillful writer of 5 published books – about the summits, of course. The sixth one will be presented at TEDxVitosha 2020, when he will also sign books for all our delegates.
Tsvetelina Nikolova is the Managing Director of Katarzyna Estate, Belizza and Concerto Wineries and Platinum Brands – a wine and high-alcohol drinks distributor. She is the youngest Bulgarian with "Master of Science in Wine Management" in the extremely prestigious OIV (International Organization of Vine and Wine). Inspired from the world experience and the things she learned there, Tsvetelina devotes her creative energy to the vision of placing Bulgaria on the world wine map.
"Wine is art, music, love, an emotion with which you must live in your heart and tell its story with passion. That's the way things work", Tsvetelina admits. And she "dresses" her love in a book. In 2018 she released - in Bulgarian and in English - a richly illustrated "bible of Bulgarian wines and traditions" - "Wines of Bulgaria".
For a third year in a row Ilian Iliev has won the equivalent of an “Oscar” in the field of culinary photography and publishing. Elitsa Bojinova’s recipes and Ilian’s photographs, presented in the most “delicious” book “The Magic of Chocolate”, have been awarded with the prize Gourmand Best in the World 2019 at the Macao International Book Fair. How did the boy from Montana manage to reach Cambridge? How does a painter become a photo reporter during the war in Kossovo and one of the best food photographers in the world?
In his 30-years career Ilian has created 15 exhibitions and 3 fantastic kids, whom he calls “my treasure”. He also teaches students in the HRC Culinary Academy in Bulgarian and gives numerous master classes in culinary styling and photography all over the world. Ilian has 4 published books, one of them contains only his own author’s recipes. If you ask why he writes his name with a small letter “i” – ilian, in English – well, he just doesn’t want it to be confused with Lilian.