From Valet to the Valley: Konstantin Cvetanov’s Journey to Pay It Forward

by Haley Hirai

It’s been a decade since Konstantin Cvetanov has worn the valet uniform that hangs in his closet. But he keeps it as a reminder of a job that taught him some key skills needed in his customer-focused role as a senior solutions architect at NVIDIA.

A native of Bulgaria, Cvetanov came to the U.S. 15 years ago to attend the University of Georgia. When he graduated amid an economic downturn, it was challenging to find work — and even harder to break into the tech industry without the typical experience or background of his peers.

After his mom worked several jobs to support him through college, Cvetanov refused further financial support. Upon graduating, he took a job as a parking valet at an Atlanta hotel, dreaming of a career in tech as he worked 16-hour shifts.

“I wouldn’t trade that struggle for anything because it taught me the value of humility, work ethic and connecting with people,” he said. “Those skills have helped me be successful in my life today.”

He continued parking cars until one day, his big break came from a tech recruiter who called looking for a Spanish-speaking customer service specialist. Cvetanov, who graduated from a Spanish-speaking high school in Sofia, Bulgaria, and minored in Spanish in college, fit the bill and was hired immediately.

“If I didn’t get that call, my whole life would have been different,” he said.

Hoping to transition into a technical role, he stayed late, shadowing engineers and completing certifications. Eventually, he became an escalation engineer, troubleshooting high-severity customer outages. There, his work with customers grew in him a passion for pre-sales engineering. At his next company, he took the lead in developing an AI practice for his engineering team and attended an NVIDIA GTC conference, which inspired him to later join the company in 2017.

Bringing People Together at NVIDIA

Today, Cvetanov leads customer adoption of the NVIDIA AI Enterprise software portfolio. He enjoys bringing people together, and his predisposition for building long-lasting relationships across industries — combined with his genuine passion for NVIDIA and its mission — makes him a natural ambassador for the company.

“I’ve never worked at a place like NVIDIA,” he said. “Teams work together seamlessly. Product teams value and implement feedback from their field teams. We lead with impact, and we accomplish amazing things together.”

Paying It Forward 

Cvetanov works to give younger generations the early career mentorship that he never had. Through his alma mater and other networking groups, he mentors youth and entry-level professionals, offering them resume advice or holding mock interviews.

“I know what it’s like to be an immigrant and start your career with no one to help you,” he said. “I’ve gained mentors and seen the difference that they make in your life and career, so I’m always willing to make myself accessible.”

Cvetanov hopes to one day create an organization that brings technology to students in Eastern Europe, so they can learn about technical careers and gain the relevant skills.

Until then, seeing his old valet uniform every time he opens his closet stokes his determination to make sure anyone who crosses his path and seeks help won’t have to do it all on their own.

Learn more about NVIDIA life, culture and careers.