Ralitsa Nenkova

Inspirational Woman: Ralitsa Nenkova | Senior Manager, Ernst & Young LLP (EY)

Meet Ralitsa Nenkova, Senior Manager at Ernst & Young LLP (EY)

Ralitsa Nenkova

Ralitsa is EY Life and Pensions Technology Lead and also takes EY New Technology offerings & Tech Alliances/ Insurtechs propositions to market. She has over 15 years financial services experience in Life & Pensions, Wealth Management, Financial planning and General Insurance. Prior to EY, worked for one of the largest leading global insurers MetLife and a leading UK digital insurer CTM. She is CII Chartered Financial Planner, Insurance Supper Club Member, 1 of 25 CII Inspirational Women in Insurance.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role

I was born in Bulgaria and came to the UK for university. My first career was teaching, English and drama in secondary schools. I joined financial services in 2008, starting at the large global insurer MetLife and progressing through various business development, commercial and transformational roles to executive level. I then worked in a few other corporates before joining EY. I am currently the life, pensions and health insurance technology leader at Ernst & Young LLP and focus on supporting the EY life, pensions and health client portfolio with transformation activities, harnessing the power of technology and business advisory knowledge.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I did when I became a teacher. When I changed sectors, it was an experiment and a risk, and I took the view that it would either pay off or I could go back to my first career. I have never looked back. During my career in insurance, I have regularly set objectives that I discuss with sponsors, mentors and career counsellors who help steer my destiny.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way, and how did you overcome these?

Everyone experiences different hurdles at different stages of their career. Moving from teaching to a heavily male-dominated insurance sector was initially a shock. I had to adapt my style, and the industry’s state helped me find my passion for DE&I. I am still hugely active in that space and trying to make a difference. Another notable challenge has been coping with personal adversities of various sorts whilst still building a successful career and delivering above expectations. It took me some time to navigate the right work-life balance and find a rhythm that works for me.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

That is a difficult question as I have been proud of many accomplishments at different stages. If I have to pick one, it’d be being voted one of 25 inspirational women in insurance by the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Insurance Supper Club CII in 2019.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in your achieving success?

Focusing on the right inputs to deliver, then the outputs and the results take care of themselves.

What top tips would you give to an individual trying to excel in their career in technology?

Tip 1: Technology does not require a different set of skills or a special talent. Technology is a creative science, and everyone can excel with the right training and support. Technical expertise is only one part of the equation for success; the remainder is all the soft skills any other field requires.

Tip2: It is never too late to get started – if the opportunity presents itself, get stuck in and learning on the job is the best way!

Tip3: Whatever aspect of technology you focus on, make sure this is your passion – passion inspires and takes others on a journey

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Do you believe there are still barriers to success for women working in tech? If so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes, there are. Historically, barriers were created by education and, currently, the male-dominated working environment. The only way to overcome those is by developing and sponsoring female talent to shift the balance over time and create an equitable and diverse industry.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

Companies have made a good start by offering flexibility in many tech positions, which suit women and their home life. However, to ensure women progress to leadership positions, the same applies in technology as in any other field – the decision-makers at the board and executive level need to be brave and break the mould to offer a sufficient number of seats to women to shift the balance that aren’t token positions.

There is currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech. If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Offer paid internships for women who are keen to retrain into technology so they can balance family responsibilities with a new career.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Networking events are at the top of my list of recommendations for resources and keeping your pulse on the latest developments. TED talks are my second best friend and I guess podcasts come into this group – they are easy to listen to on the go/while you travel. Numerous books are helpful – you have to find those that you relate to the most. My all-time favourite is Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

This publication contains information in summary form and is therefore intended for general guidance only. It is not intended to be a substitute for detailed research or the exercise of professional judgment. Member firms of the global EY organization cannot accept responsibility for loss to any person relying on this article.