Friday, 06/02/2015

Graduation Year: 1993 (MBA 1)

Vice President Marketing Russia & Belarus at Philip Morris International

LinkedIn Profile here

Looking back on your career, what was the most important decision you made (or didn't make) regarding your career path?

It’s difficult to identify one critical decision, as I already work for the same company for over 18 years. From the top of my mind, I recall three. Back in 1998, I refused a job to move from Athens to Dubai for another company, which paid 2.5 times more. For the next 3 months, I was wondering if I did the right thing! In 2004, I quit the company for … one day, as – after extensive discussions and a counter-offer – I eventually decided to continue with the same company, but in another job. Finally, in 2010, I decided to accept the offer and move to Russia in … Rostov-on-Don, rather than staying in Athens or trying to move somewhere in Western Europe. All in all, I understood that the most difficult decisions lead to the most rewarding experiences!

What’s the most important thing for recent grads to keep in mind as they start out their careers?

Have a long-term ambition, but be flexible in the way to get there. When you start your career, start getting concerned only if you feel you have stopped learning and enriching your experience. In fact, the greatest the challenge, the more you will learn and self-improve. Remember that good things, sometimes, take time to happen, so don’t get disappointed; if you deserve it, good things will eventually happen. Also, don’t try to manage your career on a continuous basis; it’s OK to negotiate or ask for something, but do this only, exceptionally, in critical times and in the proper way. Remember to try to help and give a good impression to the people you work with; the chances are that you will see them again in another job; perhaps as your boss! Finally, try to keep contact with ALBA and your classmates; you spent unforgettable times together and these, you will realize, they will never come back.

What made you choose ALBA for your graduate studies?

I studied and graduated during the 1st year of the school, in 1993. Having just graduated from Dept. of Economics of ASOEE (now Athens University of Economics and Business) I wanted to pursue an MBA and was considering the options. When I saw an announcement from the school in the financial press, I immediately decided that I wanted to be part of it. I very much liked the endorsement and involvement of multinational and Greek companies in running the school and the fact that the curriculum was fast-paced, taught by professors from abroad, based on case studies, presentations, project work in teams, etc. Therefore, I sent immediately an application, mentioning the possibility for a scholarship, which the school accepted. When I joint, I realized that I was participating in something bigger than a business school; I was part of a dream of a handful of amazing individuals who wanted to reform the Greek business environment and create a better generation of future business leaders. The team spirit among my classmates, the good times, the hard work - day and night - the fun and the emotions were beyond description. Part of what I do today for a living, but most importantly, part of who I am as person, I owe it to the school, its professors, its management and staff and my classmates. And this, I will always remember!

Share with us your fondest memory while studying at ALBA.

One of the most interesting times was when, we decided with some of my classmates to issue a yearbook for the 1st class of the school. We did it, as usual, as a team project (on top of all other projects). We asked and got financial help from various companies, wrote profiles for each other (actually, the more talented wrote … poems), took pictures and we got our yearbook issued. There were many other good times, which resulted in enduring relationships with some of the professors and classmates.

 

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

  • What is your greatest fear? Being disconnected from my son, who I adore. Fortunately, Skype helps.
  • Which historical figure do you most identify with? I mostly like everyday heroes who never make the headlines … but if I had to choose, I would choose … the gods of Olympus; they had all the fun, without the consequences ;)
  • Which living person do you most admire? One close to me is my father, who, being a professor of education is still full of passion to create better teachers for our kids.
  • What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Many; some of them are mentioned in my yearly evaluations, some of them yet to be discovered; being stubborn is always at the top of the list.
  • What is the trait you most deplore in others? Claiming you have done good things that other people did and, vice versa, blaming others for your own decisions and incompetence.
  • What is your greatest extravagance? It is too great to share ;)
  • What is your favorite journey? I love Moscow - Athens, as I know that I will spend the weekend with my son.
  • On what occasion do you lie? Basically, not to hurt people. OK, I have also done it to impress, but many years ago.
  • What is your greatest regret? Some things which sounded too risky and I was afraid to lose my comfort. For example, I was offered to work in the US and Switzerland and I refused for different reasons.
  • What or who is the greatest love of your life? I am repeating myself (stubbornness …). It’s my son. Moreover, my parents; they have done more things for me, than I ever deserved.
  • When and where were you happiest? I was blessed with many happy moments. I think everywhere and on a continuous basis when I have good company.
  • Which talent would you most like to have? It’s not about a talent, but a skill; I want to learn to fly a plane - perhaps to own one as well ;)
  • What is your current state of mind? In a hurry, as it’s already 21:30 and I am still in my office writing this text, while a good company waits for me in a bar nearby.
  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Take more risks (even more risks, actually; life is short)
  • If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? To see each other more often.
  • What do you consider your greatest achievement? Still my son (I apologize to business achievements, career, money, exploring the world, etc. which are also rewarding).
  • What is your most treasured possession? Happiness and free time (when there is some, I try to take full advantage).
  • Where would you like to live? I like Greece, Southern Europe, NYC, Moscow is nice as well. I realized that it’s up to me to have a good life wherever I am.
  • What is your favorite occupation? I like what I do. Sometimes, I see big opportunities for creating my own business, but so far … see question about regret above.
  • What is your most marked characteristic? The (sometimes unnecessary) directness. People in Russia wonder if I am really Greek.
  • What do you most value in your friends? The fun we have together.
  • What are your favorite names? Yannis (my father and my son).
  • What is your motto? “Panw ap’ ola o anthrwpos”. I use it sarcastically when I am together with my close friends to make fun of things.