Brandeis International Business School

Nikolay Vassilev, MA'97: “I owe my professional ideology to Brandeis”

What was your path to Brandeis?

I grew up in Varna, Bulgaria on the Black Sea coast and went to the State University of New York for my undergraduate degree. After graduating from SUNY, I wanted to stay in the U.S., and I thought about a career on Wall Street. Instead, I pursued my Master of Arts in International Economics and Finance at Brandeis International Business School. It was a fortuitous decision. The finance program was stimulating, my professors were very strong, and I had classmates from all over the world. I owe my professional ideology to Brandeis. It’s where my ideas about the world economy were formed.

What was your next step?

After graduating, I worked as an equity analyst at UBS Warburg in Tokyo, New York and London. In the late ’90s, I took a job at Lazard Capital Markets in London where I was responsible for compiling the benchmark index for the Sofia exchange. I became known as “the Bulgaria guy.”

In 2001, you became the youngest deputy prime minister in Bulgaria’s history. Tell us about that.

I oversaw an eight-year period that was marked by budget surpluses, low taxes, large increases in foreign investment, and a strong bull market. I held various positions including Minister of Economy, Minister of Transport and Communications, and Minister of State Administration and Administrative Reform. I helped cut unemployment, computerize public schools, spur job creation in sectors such as information technology, and pave the way for Bulgaria’s NATO and EU integration. Bulgaria went from nearly bankrupt to one of the least indebted countries in Europe.

What are you doing now, and what's on the horizon?

My party lost in 2009, and now, I’m a managing partner and shareholder at Expat Capital, the largest independent investment company in Bulgaria with $40 million in assets under management. We manage money for high-net-worth individuals, but also handle mergers and acquisitions as well as some private equity investments. I also wrote a book, Energy, about the growing importance of human capital. As for the future, a return to the public sector is still possible for me. You have to have new people in government all the time. That’s the good thing about democracy.

Master of Arts in International Economics and Finance
Class of 1997

Managing Partner, Expat Capital

Previous Experience
Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria; Equity Analyst, UBS Warburg; Lazard Capital Markets

Home Country
Varna, Bulgaria

Undergraduate Institution
State University of New York