A dose of happiness is what everyone needs, so today’s “Meet the team” piece will certainly make you smile. We introduce you to iCard’s Head of Software Development Section – Deyan Stoyanov, who knows how to have fun. His story starts with football, goes through love and adventures with the wild horses in the mountain, and ends with dreaming big. We share all of this through lots of happy tears.
Keep reading to enjoy the pallet of emotions and memories Deyan tells us about.
What does sport mean to you?
I’m very active, and my name’s Deyan (meaning “active” or “vigorous” in Bulgarian), not by chance. I’ve been doing sports since I was a child, especially team sports. I used to play beach volleyball and basketball and currently I’m taking part in the company’s sports initiatives, but I like playing football the most. I started training with the older children where I lived when I was four, and football made me very disciplined. I learned not to complain thanks to my coach who was very strict with me and the rest of the players. My teammates would also often punch and kick me and that also helped a lot to be more patient. Thanks to football, I became who I am today, gained many friendships, and made unforgettable memories. I remember how we used to go to various championships in different cities with a small bus, most probably used to transport immigrants now. My coach would place a bench at the back of the bus, and the 30 of us would swing, fall, and laugh. It was so much fun but also dangerous, so my father wouldn’t always let me go.
My friends and I won a football tournament a couple of years ago. I felt like I made my childhood dream come true. We were a team with few ambitions but a strong willingness to participate. First, we won the qualifications in Varna and then the tournament. I was announced the champion of Bulgaria for the teams up to21 years of age because I scored the qualifying goal for the finals and the final penalty for the championship. I scored a tremendous goal from the centre of the pitch, but to be honest…it was by accident. The championship prize was a game against football stars like Boncho Genchev, Blagoy Georgiev, and other famous people from Bulgaria. The game was even live on TV. The feeling of playing with such stars was unforgettable, and it was undoubtedly one of the moments in my sports career I appreciated most.
I barely play football now because I prefer futsal, which has different rules than football, and most of all, the dynamic is bigger. I like playing futsal way more than watching the games. I’m a fan of Manchester United, but I also like FC Barcelona. I watch games of other teams, too, because a good game and sportsmanship is always interesting. I don’t attend Bulgarian football games because I’m not fond of the aggression from the supporters. The hate among the groups of fans doesn’t exist on the pitch. There’s definitely some between the teams, too, but no one wants to hurt anyone because every player knows the cost of an injury. Football certainly unites people and shapes many friendships, and every time I hang out with my friends somewhere, I meet people I’ve played with. Recently, I even helped my colleague Ivan buy a discounted refrigerator because I used to play football with the shop assistant.
If you had any superpower, what would it be?
I want to be able to teleport myself, but not just once. I want to do it at least ten times. I love visiting new places and I dream of going to all seven continents. Geography has always been my passion, and I enjoyed having examinations at school on the subject. I loved reading about the landmarks and climate in different places of the world, and I imagined myself visiting them and experiencing something different and unique everywhere I go. I have been passionate about travelling and meeting new cultures ever since. There are destinations like Thailand or my first trip to Barcelona with my girlfriend – Blaga, that will always have a special place in my heart. I want to get the chance to visit as many places as possible – I plan on visiting Japan, I want to go on a safari in Africa and to the mountains in South America, and I know for sure I’ll enjoy any place in the USA. I like travelling with friends because it’s a lot of fun, but I also love the moments when it’s only me and Blaga, watching the stars and enjoying our time together.
Are you romantic?
Yes, I consider myself as being romantic, but I wouldn’t say I like cheesy and basic gifts like roses and bottles of wine. I prefer making small gestures. It all started with a few movies I watched when I was little. My favourite one was “A Walk to Remember”, which touched something very humane in me. It made me become a better person towards the people I care about because one day it might be too late to show your kindness. I believe you should show how kind you can be not only to your partner, but to your friends, too, even by making a simple joke.
My biggest inspiration is, of course, Blaga – her smile and how she makes me feel when I know she’s happy because of me. I’m a Leo, and I’m a bit selfish, so I enjoy it when I’m the reason for her smile. We had plenty of romantic moments, but the most memorable was when I officially asked her to start living together. I decided to surprise her on our first anniversary and ordered a heart-shaped keychain with our first date engraved on it. Of course, when I was supposed to get my purchase, I had to feel some pressure. I couldn’t start my car, so a friend had to give me a ride. After I picked up the keychain, I placed the key from the apartment I recently bought, and we made it our home. I believe this was how I could show her how much I value her and want to be with her.
Is friendship valuable to you?
As mentioned, I love team sports, and I enjoy being in groups of people. I have some friends with whom we do a lot of things together – with them, sadness goes away quickly, and laughter is even greater. I’m a gamer because of them, and we often play CS:GO. I also love fishing with them – it’s the only hobby that can make me wake up very early in the morning. I don’t catch many fish, but that’s not important to me; I like listening to the sound of the waves, talking to my friends, and feeling at peace. I’m telling you – fishermen are the biggest liars. If you ask them if there’s a lot of fish in the sea, their answer is always “no”, because they don’t want you to take some of their fish. We often pass by other boats and ask the same, and the answer is always negative, but you can see them having buckets with at least 20 kg of fish.
Why do you like going hiking so much?
I like being at peace with myself and in touch with nature, and I miss it when I’m in the city. When I go to the mountains, I feel they’re way bigger and way more impressive than anything else. I realise I’m just a speck of dust, and this brings me humility. I started to love hiking when my colleagues at iCard and I began going there together. I prefer long and restless hikes, especially when we finally reach the hut and feel completely broken and shattered.
I’ll never forget the first time we decided to go hiking and reached Botev Peak. We were in the foothills late and headed to the hut around 7 p.m. It was an evening trek, but almost none of us had gone hiking before, especially when it was dark, so most of us were shocked. One of our colleagues was quite chill about it and led us upwards. We’d count ourselves occasionally in case someone got lost in the dark. We were wearing headband lights, and whenever someone turned their head towards you, the light went straight to your eyes, and you startled even more. At least we weren’t tied to one another with chains; some of us were joking that we were going somewhere to get killed. Some colleagues wanted to give up and go back home; others would cry because they had no clue where they were going and whether they’d spend the whole night in the mountains. My colleague Martin and I would sing songs and try to keep the spirits high, but at one point, even I started wondering if we were okay and if we had to worry that we didn’t see any light as we were in the middle of nowhere. We had to walk a lot, which was painful, and we finally arrived at the hut somewhere after 11 p.m. We were so hungry that while we were walking, we were thinking of how we’d have some drinks and eat shopska salads and warm grilled meat. When we arrived, however, the host wasn’t happy that we arrived so late and told us the only thing left was five bowls of bean soup for almost 30 people. We just passed some bags with peanuts to one another, and everyone would take out what was left in their bags. One of the girls took out a tin of moussaka and ate it like she was at a 5-star restaurant. I find it funny now because, despite all these struggles, it was a great experience. We drank lots of beer and had fun. I felt great, although I was drained, but I got some rest and felt satisfied that I completed such a challenging trek. I met many new colleagues from different departments, and I had no clue they were so intriguing and funny.
I have another unforgettable memory in the foothills of Botev Peak. I decided to go and enjoy the view on my own when suddenly I encountered a herd of wild horses. There were around 50 of them staring at me, and I thought they’d attack me. I turned backwards, but I didn’t see any of my colleagues. I initially thought of running, but I knew I couldn’t run away from a horse or a whole herd. They started coming closer and closer, gathered around me, and I nearly fainted. But the story doesn’t end here! A stallion began to jump and kick with his hind legs, which motivated the other horses even more. Then I realised I smelled like salt because I was dehydrated, and I attracted them. I desperately started shouting and making signs to make them go. Simultaneously, the stallion was still kicking the air and making scary noises, so I started thinking no one would believe the story of how I got killed by wild horses. Eventually, my colleagues caught up and helped me escape the ridiculous situation. Ever since, I always go with the group and never walk alone.
What does working at iCard bring you?
I’ve been working at iCard for seven years and grew up as a professional here. The field we’re working in is very dynamic and broad, and we constantly need to look for new solutions and knowledge. I’m thankful that my colleagues are great professionals and always ready to help and show me the answer to a specific task. We follow and create the latest trends in the fintech industry. I’m glad we can work on various intriguing projects, which makes me happy. My colleagues from the “Card Schemes” department and I are responsible for implementing the bills and taxes payment services and the 3DS in e-commerce payments. We also developed the base for the identification process to keep the client data record. Recently, we took responsibility for the card scheme integration process.
Working at iCard brought me many acquaintances and friendships. The most important for me is the people I work with. My team and I have gone through many challenges over the last few years, which made us greater professionals and shaped us as a whole. I appreciate the fact that I can always count on them both as colleagues and as friends. I feel the warmth as we help one another a lot. On Fridays, we always have some drinks and snacks and organise surprises for our birthdays or other personal occasions.
The most important to me is meeting Blaga at iCard. More than three years ago, I had to upload the new version of our app, but we had a case with a certificate, so I asked a colleague from the “Support” department, and I met Blaga when I went to his desk. She was an intern in their department and caught my attention, so I started making up reasons to go there and ask for advice. My colleague once asked her to make him coffee, but she didn’t know how to use the coffee machine, so it was the right moment for me to be close to her and help her. However, I also didn’t know how to use it, and we just broke it, so my colleague couldn’t get his coffee. We laughed a lot at what happened, and later, we ended up at a team building where we had the chance to talk to each other freely, and then we started chatting and hanging out. It was a match, and we’re expecting our first child three years later.
What are you dreaming of?
As mentioned, I love football and travelling, so my dreams are tightly related to both. Besides going to all seven continents, I also dream of playing a football game with Manchester United stars like Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov. Some time ago, there was a similar initiative, and my friends and I were motivated to experience it – we filmed our play, but unfortunately, we didn’t win. Since then, I have dreamed of playing a game with such legends at the Old Trafford stadium while I’m still young and have the energy to run.
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