Scholar Spotlight - Juliana Ruseva

Laidlaw Scholar Juliana Ruseva on volunteering, helping women break the glass ceiling and tackling issues step by step.
Scholar Spotlight - Juliana Ruseva

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Juliana Ruseva, a Laidlaw Scholar at London Business School, on volunteering, helping women break the glass ceiling and tackling issues step by step.

A passion for the pursuit of justice and the defence of one’s rights led me to become a lawyer. I studied law at King’s College London and was an active part of the King’s community, which inspired a lasting love for London’s culture. Fast forward a few years, and an advanced masters, I qualified as a corporate M&A and commercial lawyer with a top City firm. My last job before starting the MBA at London Business School was as Legal Counsel for Gamesys (part of Bally’s Corporation), one of the biggest gaming and gambling tech companies in the United Kingdom. In this role, I was challenged to be not only an excellent lawyer but also a savvy business strategist as I worked on multi-million-pound projects across continents and led complex matters on corporate, commercial, advertising, and regulatory areas of expertise.

Beyond the professional side, a significant amount of my time is spent outside of work on volunteering with youth education-focused charities and organisations. This experience is also why I applied for the Laidlaw Scholarship. I believe that we have a duty to help young women be empowered and successful, and I have put this goal into practice.

Over the last decade, I have mentored and empowered hundreds of young women from their early teenage years to their late 20’s. With the youth organisations Debate Mate, Prospex, London Fire Brigade, and Youth Mix, I have led debating and mentoring workshops for teenage girls and implemented new programmes to better suit their needs. With ReachOut and Young Ladies Club, I mentored young women in their 20’s, expanded their professional network and advised on career moves. As part of the Mayor of London’s LEAN programme, I have worked with Vanguard, a school for autistic young people, to bring more career opportunities to their female students and create a strategy for their future. In a professional setting, I have mentored female junior staff members to help them shatter the glass ceiling in law and business. 

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

There isn't a single piece of advice that I would select as most impactful. What truly made a difference was people who led by example with lots of courage, integrity, resilience, compassion, and brilliance. Their actions and character would be an amalgamation of a lot of wisdom across many different philosophies and cultures. Wisdom can be found in all corners of the world, and the best leaders draw life advice from multiple perspectives. 

What is the worst piece of advice you have been given?

The worst piece of advice I have received is that one should always be positive without expressing any concerns or criticism. I always thought this was bad advice that could even be detrimental to one’s mental health. People need to be able to share negative but constructive criticism to improve and also to be able to vent amongst colleagues or team members. In my experience, matters never go well when a leader tries to gloss over issues by forcing a veil of fake positivity across everyone in their team. 

Top 3 tips that will help someone become a better leader

⚡️ Learn to actively listen to the people around you. People tend to listen to their own voice or voices that reinforce their own more than keeping an open mind and focusing on truly listening to what someone is saying. A leader can learn much about their team by listening carefully and attentively.

⚡️ Be self-aware and reflect on your strengths and weakness. A leader should take time every week to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and consciously choose areas for improvement. There should be a balanced approach that allows for self-reflection in a healthy way. One shouldn’t be overly critical of themselves, but they should also not shy away from being honest about who they are and how they’re doing when they’re leading a team.

⚡️Think creatively about how they lead and solve problems. Keeping an open mind and using diverse resources to study and build up their knowledge base is crucial to staying ahead.

Photo at a professional legal event at the
Law Society in London, UK

Which leaders in the world inspire you the most and why?

I find inspiration and lessons in leadership through people that are part of my life more than world leaders. The leaders I have come to know from my professional and personal life are everyday people who face real challenges and effect change that positively affects their communities.

To offer some more specific examples, I admire the leadership skills of a close friend who is a teacher and who ensures that every voice has the right to speak and participate in an inclusive, safe, and vibrant environment. She also advocates for a neurodiverse perspective in leadership decisions, which is often an element that popular leadership does not account for. 

In addition to the above example, I find inspiration in leaders who are creative thinkers, and I have met several colleagues throughout the years who have been great examples of such thinking. These leaders were not just thinking ‘outside the box’ but holistically using evidence-based management to reinvent processes, relationships, and values. Their creativity struck gold, and found good solutions where there seemed to be none. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from leaders in one’s life, and combining those lessons with the legacies and perspectives of global historic and modern leaders can be of exceptional value.

What does it mean for you to be a Laidlaw Scholar?

As a Laidlaw Scholar, I am not only empowered to undertake an MBA at one of the best business schools in the world, but I become part of a network of talented women and allies who want to have a substantial positive impact on their communities. Using the support and resources provided by the Laidlaw Foundation, I will continue my work with non-profits and the private sector to develop and nurture female leaders.

Briefly describe a scene from the future you are striving to create.

The following scene would be from the not-so-distant future but would greatly impact the London Business School community. 

As co-president of the Tech & Media Club, I would like to create a very strong tech offering for the new academic year that upskills students,  creates employment opportunities in this difficult tech climate, and helps people explore outside of their comfort zone. I would also like to involve staff and faculty in our efforts so they can both contribute and benefit.

Moreover, creating a stronger position for our community in the entertainment sector would be key to unlocking the potential of this less-explored industry. I look forward to working with my team and creating a strong and exciting tech year for our community. 

Something personal to add

I would like to turn the spotlight onto an amazing youth charity I am supporting as a trustee called Art Against Knives. At the heart of Art Against Knives’ mission is preventing youth violence through creativity. This mission is accomplished by intervening early to prevent young people from becoming victims or perpetrators of violent crime. The charity embeds creative spaces in London’s most isolated communities, co-designed with young people, that build on their strengths and create opportunity. What makes their approach special is that they are fully rooted in communities but at the same connected with industry and specialist support, and they always co-produce their youth programmes, enabling young people to shape the support they need. If our mission sounds of interest, please do not hesitate to reach out to me to find out how you can be part of our achievements and make a positive social impact on London’s youth.

Quick-Fire Questions

📺 Currently binding: The Good Wife

🎶 My current anthem: Fly to the Moon by Frank Sinatra

📚 My top book recommendation: Thinking Fast and Slow  by Daniel Khaneman

📺 My podcast obsession: One Mic Real Talk by Art Against Knives

🌈 Something that made me feel joy recently: Surprising a few close friends with some thank-you gifts.

Juliana is a Laidlaw Scholar at London Business School. You can find Juliana on LinkedIn. The Laidlaw Women's Business Education Scholarship aims to help build a pipeline of future women leaders through access to best-in-class education, resources and global networks by providing full and half scholarships to women who would not otherwise be in a position to reap the benefits of attending an outstanding school. 

🔦 Discover more Scholar Spotlights

⚡️ Asha Scaria Vettoor on running a successful social enterprise and empowering rural women artisans.

⚡️ Xuerui Yin on overcoming societal norms, creating opportunities for underrepresented groups, and working with compassion.

⚡️ Paseka Khosa on overcoming financial hardship and advocating for unwavering belief in oneself.

⚡️ Fisayo Adeleke on her mission to increase women's access to opportunities, and dealing with uncertainty.

⚡️ Helena Couto on breaking out of your pre-defined place in society, and larger than life goals.

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