“Chunk it!”  

If you take nothing else away from Stela’s incredible story, take that phrase. (But we have a feeling you’ll have plenty more to take away by the time you’re done reading.) 

“Chunk it!” is a strategy Stela learned early in life that has helped her “immensely.” She discovered that if she tries to figure out everything in the foreseeable, and even more distant, future, she’ll get overwhelmed, and “the world starts looking like a scary place.” Stela learned to identify a goal or dream and break it into immediate, digestible chunks. She says, “Focus on the first chunk and do the best you can, assess how you’re doing, adjust the next chunk as needed, and move forward.” 

We should all heed Stela’s advice. She “chunked” her way through a B.A. in English, a move to the United States from her native Bulgaria, a fellowship in Literature and Psychology, a Master’s in English Literature, a Ph.D. in English Literature with a focus on psychology, and an incredible tenure at Corel/Alludo of almost 27 years and counting, with an impressive record of impact. 

Bridging the gap between tech and academics 

At first glance, the tech world might seem incompatible with Stela’s stellar academic background. And yet, it makes perfect sense. Stela started as a woman in tech at what was then known as Corel. She began her career as a technical writer while still pursuing her Ph.D. She crafted content for Help systems and manuals, created templates, authored marketing documentation, and worked on localized documentation and training materials, among other tasks.  

Stela had to test products to write effective documentation, so she learned the products well. She also learned about product design and user experience, which coalesced perfectly with her interest in psychology. She started thinking “a lot” about UI/UX and focused her attention on elements of design and user experience that could be improved. 

She made more than a few suggestions that were implemented, and she loved that element of her job. This excitement motivated her to keep learning. As a woman in tech, she’s still improving product design and user experience at Alludo—and still learning. 

“I have managed design teams for 17 years. I took design courses, went to conferences, and learn every day from the talented team I work with. Through User Assistance, I am still rooted in creating learning materials for our customers, and I currently work with two amazing professionals. I love my job and am happy that my journey took me to where I am today.” 

Stela and her team serve as user advocates who understand users’ unique pain points and needs, workflows and businesses, and interactions and aspirations. They design and enhance features, create customized experiences, and produce learning materials—all while balancing Alludo’s legacy with leading-edge innovation. 

A community of strength and support  

Through many promotions and successes, Stela keeps “chunking it.” She reminds young women fresh out of school to “Keep an open mind” and “not assume that they need to make all the big decisions for the rest of their lives.” She encourages young women in tech to dream big, explore opportunities, and always surround themselves with supportive people who lift them up. 

Stela is quick to name the people who have elevated her throughout her career. She heaps praise on her team, on mentors, and on her mother, who relocated from Bulgaria to help her care for her children when they were young. Now that Stela’s children are grown and she has achieved significant success in her career, she’s eager to pay it forward. Today, she is heavily involved in community work in addition to her job and actively seeks opportunities to mentor others. “I have been a mentor to quite a few women already, and this has been a very rewarding experience. If anyone is interested in approaching me, I will be honored.”  

As we continue celebrating Women’s History Month, Stela says, “There is no field in which women cannot be successful if we stay strong and persevere. “My hope is to build a strong community of women supporting each other, and I see myself contributing to this vision as a mentor and advocate.” 

By the way, if you’re inspired to “chunk it,” you might also enjoy Stela’s list of principles that have helped her personally and professionally. Here they are, in her words: 

Be strong but be humble. 

Work hard and persevere. 

Work on your emotional intelligence and situational awareness.  

Don’t compare yourself to others, just to the best version of the person you could become.  

Don’t be afraid of change and embrace new opportunities.  

Be empathetic and a good human.