Sarah Gkonos Jan 07Sarah Gonos graduated Marketing, International Business Relations and Spanish language and culture in the Pennsylvania State University. After the graduation she started working in world recognized companies as Vanguard Group and ING. Then she worked as international consultant and managed business projects in four countries. Mrs. Gonos started her carrier in the prestigious British publishing company Oxford Business Group as director for Malaysia. Then came projects in Taiwan and Egypt. Today she is the director of Oxford Business Group for Bulgaria.

Mrs. Gonos, would you tell us about the activity of Oxford Business Group:
Oxford Business Group (OBG) is a Great Britain-based publishing, research and consultancy company, which publishes economical and political analyses and studies for the markets in Eastern Europe, North and South Africa, the Middle East and Asia. OBG offers detailed analyses of the political and macroeconomical development in different sectors including the bank sector, capital markets, the energy, infrastructure and insurance. OBG’s economical, political and business analyses are major source for the local and regional researches, and the company’s economical online briefings include up-to-date and profound analyses of the economical situation in the respective regions. OBG’s consultancy unit offers market researches, complying to the needs of each single client and the advises of the companies operating on the respective markets and those trying to enter there.

How did you start with OBG?
Graduating Business relations I oriented myself to a carrier that would allow me to work and to get to know closely a few different, emerging markets in different parts of the world. My previous job was in an international consultancy company that connected me with the officers of OBG. Apart from this I was subscribed to their services and after finding how pleasant their analyses were and how precious business information they included, naturally I wanted to become a part of OBG.

When did you visit Bulgaria for the first time and what were your impressions?
In fact this is my first visit in Bulgaria and I was not sure what to expect. Luckily, the people and the country happened to be a nice surprise. Against to my expectation that Sofia might be cold and inhospitable, the people showed they were friendly and open hearted. The city has a various architecture, natural beauty and nice social atmosphere. I am happy for having the chance to see and get to know the country.

According to you what is Bulgaria like in you book The Report: Emerging Bulgaria 2007?
The 2007 issue is the first publication of OBG for Bulgaria, which is entirely rebranded and received a lot of positive reaction both from the local and the international business spheres. In addition to the esthetic design of the book, its contents is quite well known as a representative overview of the Bulgarian economy, providing information about interesting investment possibilities, as well as contacts needed to facilitate the investments in the country.

How do the readers of OBG accept Bulgaria?
It is generally known that the emerging markets not always have good reputation. Our clients subscribe to the OBG services, because they want to learn more about the development of the given market and to get a notion about the real business climate in the region. 75% of our subscribers are from big corporations and occupy mainly managers positions. That is why OBG aims at lightening up the particular market, to inform and even to correct the existing opinion about the economical climate in each given country, and as the same time meets the informational needs of each single client. 62% of our readers for Bulgaria are from Europe and 20% – from the USA. Those are the regions mostly interested in doing business in the country or with local partners. Besides some negative opinions, Bulgaria’s image has been improving thanks to the country’s accession to the EU and the stable economical growth.

What is the difference between Bulgaria in 2007 and Bulgaria in 2004 when OBG entered our market for the first time?
OBG’s competitive advantage is the direct contact at local level that we maintain through interactive discussions and studies. In the past 4 years OBG developed wonderful relations both with the Government and the business in tour country. Our partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, financial institutions and companies operating in different sectors, and our meeting with over 200 managers from different business sectors, provided us the possibility to achieve profound overview inside the country’s economy. In the past few years we developed these relations to such a level that each following book shall be more profound and including relevant information for our clients and for future important international persons. Of course, we strive to improve our product constantly, as we already work over the 2008 analyses.

What will you remember for Bulgaria after leaving the country?
Bulgaria is unique experience for me and will leave a trace in my mind. Most of all I will remember the people that I met as business oriented and social. They will leave a lot of memories to me as they are really hospitable and open hearted.

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