The American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and its Women in Business (WIB) Committee held a virtual discussion, Resilient Overcomers: Redefining Normal, on overcoming barriers during these unprecedented times. Our dynamic speakers from various sectors – Healthcare, Technology, Psychology, Pharmaceutical, e-Commerce – shared their perspectives and personal stories on how empathy, resilience, courage, flexibility and collective contribution will steer us to survive and thrive in the new redefined normal. They also shared examples where values based leadership created a competitive advantage and enhanced the positive image of our country to the world.
Anastasia Sideri, Chair of the Women in Business (WIB) Committee, opened the discussion sharing her own experience during the lockdown period and saying that “the pandemic acted as a catalyst in the lives of all of us. Its effects are dramatic, but it also “carries” many gifts. A sense of fragility and vulnerability coupled with awe and anxiety about the uncertain future are a common denominator of the collective emotion. But we can strengthen our defense system against fear in three ways: By cultivating our flexibility, resilience and empathy. Keeping natural distances but coming closer than ever as humans because together we will make it in the new normal, without having to go back.”
Thodoris Georgakopoulos, Editorial Director of diaNEOsis moderated the discussion, and remarked that “we heard a lot of important ideas, from the inequalities that emerged during the lockdown and the psychological resistance we developed to the changes in the way we make business decisions and optimistic stories from the escalation point of the crisis. Too many important and interesting things that are really valuable tools for each one of us to deal with the pandemic next stages all together.
Dr. Anastasia Kotanidou, Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, NKUA, Medical School & President, Hellenic Society of Critical Care said “it was a ‘good’ opportunity for people and especially the State to understand that in fact the ICU is the “heart” of the hospital. Without it, it can’t function properly. We have to keep in mind that we took drastic measures very early, and Greek citizens obeyed -something we don’t see very often- which was very important. Images from Italy may have contributed to this. Today, however, citizens are not as obedient. I think that even through this process you can grasp some lessons and do better things. The world is made like this: in the crisis everyone is united, but when the difficulties are over then the doubts begin. And so does the criticism and the bad habit that we have as Greeks to believe we can do it better than the others.”
Myladie Stoumbou, Regional Director of Commercial Partner Channel and Programs for Multi-County Cluster, Microsoft, stated “the pandemic functioned as a digital accelerator. Tele-work, tele-education, digitalization and process automation, the availability of digital services, which had not been done for decades, have accelerated due to the urgency created by the quarantine. Adaptability and flexibility, creativity and innovation, leadership with vision, critical thinking, empathy, but also the human need to maintain the social capital we have created are the “gifts” that the pandemic leaves us and at the same time a strong legacy for the future.”
Agnes Mariakaki, Psychologist and Managing Director of MindSearch stated that “the pandemic brought three important gifts to our lives: 1. Understanding that in addition to prevention at the physical level -with the mask or hand washing- we must keep in mind the critical thinking that allows us to properly filter the bombing of information 2. Cultivating a new relationship with the fear of the pandemic. This fear has brought more respect to human life in our lives. It pushed us to prioritize and to give value to the essentials 3. Providing a new definition of what luxury is after all. Luxury is the “touch”, the connection that unites people. It is independent of physical contact and overcomes obstacles.”
Stella Demou, Member of the BOD of Demo S.A., stated that “there are several changes that will remain and will last: hygiene, another lifestyle, telework, reduction of leisure trips for fear of using transportation, but also fear and alienation because the unpredictable future causes fear and soul-destruction. The change that will make sense as we move forward is to go back to old values. We must learn to be in solidarity and NOT competitive. Solidarity, humanity, caring and mutual support are the changes that will make sense. Furthermore, it would also be good to see the inequalities that these changes may create. For example, while teleworking has many good and effective points, it can also hide elitism and discrimination, it may be made possible by certain professions or only by young workers and not older ones. Let’s look have a closer look at these issues along with their good sides.”
Zina Mavroeidi, CEO of e-Fresh.gr reiterated that it “is very optimistic to see how different industries have developed the necessary skills so quickly to adapt and respond to the new conditions of the pandemic. We heard examples from different angles but with commonalities: the flexibility, adaptability and perseverance shown by people and businesses to successfully deal with the invisible danger of covid-19. It is a testament to what Greece can achieve in the right direction with the scientific community, but also taking advantage of the talent of its people who want to contribute, help and ultimately be part of the solution and success.”
External Communications Director Central and Eastern Europe
The Coca-Cola Company
Anastasia Sideri holds a degree in Chemical Engineering and brings with her almost 30 years of professional experience in Marketing, Communications & Public Affairs fields. She started her career with Procter & Gamble and held a series of senior positions in large Greek and multinational companies, including Fage, Boutari, Diageo, DHL and the Athens International Airport. She joined The Coca-Cola Company in 2002 and is currently Communications Lead in 26 countries in Central, South and Eastern Europe. She is an advocate of lifelong learning, is NLP trained, speaks 6 languages and is very active in areas related to CSR, PSR, Ethical and Women Leadership. She is a founding member of the Hellenic Network of Corporate Social Responsibility and the Hellenic Communications Network, served as Board member in the Hellenic Advertisers Association, serves currently as Chair of the Women in Business (WIB) Committee of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, and Honorary Professor in the Adam Smith Business School of the University of Glasgow.
Thodoris Georgakopoulos is a writer and journalist. He is the editorial director of diaNEOsis, an independent non-profit think tank in Athens. He is also a columnist at Greek daily Kathimerini, and has written for major Greek and European magazines, newspapers, and websites. He primarily writes about politics, culture, science, technology, and the internet. He is the author of five books.
Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine NKUA, Medical School & President, Hellenic Society of Critical Care
Anastasia Kotanidou is Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Medical School and President of the Hellenic Society of Critical Care from 2016 until now. She is principal investigator in more than 6 clinical studies the last 3 years. She has written more than 125 papers in peer review international journals with impact factor >500 and h-index 38 Citations. She attended the Medical School of the University of Sofia, Bulgaria from 1976-1982, and received her Ph.D. from the University of Athens, Medical School in 1993. She is a member of the Greek Medical Association, Hellenic Thoracic Society, Greek Bronchologic Society, Hellenic Society of Critical Care Medicine, Hellenic Society of Studies in Disturbances in Sleep, European Society of Transplantation, European Society of Intensive Care Medicine, American Association for the Advancement of Science. She speaks Greek, English, Bulgarian, Russian.
Regional Director of Commercial Partner Channels and Programs for Multi-Country Cluster
Myladie Stoumbou is Regional Director of Commercial Partner Channels and Programs for Multi-Country cluster in Microsoft Corporation. She leads a diverse multi-national team responsible for driving the strategic transformation of Microsoft partner ecosystem across 24 countries of Central and Eastern Europe. She studied Computer Engineering and Informatics in the Polytechnic School of the University of Patras in Greece, and she holds a post-graduate title in Economics and Management from Athens Information Technology. She joined Microsoft in 2011 and since then she has been in various leadership positions, such as Enterprise Solution Sales Manager for Greece, Director of Technology (Developer Evangelism and Experience) for Greece, Director of Cloud Productivity Sales for Germany and Central and Eastern Europe as well as Solution Sales Director for Multi-Country Europe. Before Microsoft, she worked in senior positions in Greek companies, namely SingularLogic, Velti and Intracom, mostly in sales and business development positions in Greece and in the SEE region. She is a member of the Women in Business (WIB) Committee of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, while at the same time she participates and supports women empowerment initiatives in Microsoft as member of the Women@Microsoft CEE Chapter. She is a member of the Advisory Board of Singularity University Athens Chapter. She is mentor at MIT Enterprise Forum Greece, The People’s Trust and Women on Top network, supporting young women professionals and entrepreneurs. She is a passionate volunteer in social inclusion topics, an a TEDx speaker and an article writer on topics of innovation and digital entrepreneurship, leadership, diversity, and inclusion.
Agnes Mariakaki has worked as a researcher in more than 15 countries, conducting over 4,000 focus groups, and advising more than 300 brands on strategy, growth, consumer, and social insight. She has been managing MindSearch, a research and insights consultancy, since 1995, and has pioneered the first eye tracking research lab in Greece. She is the social researcher in the development of MAMEM, a technology that allows the use of digital devices with the mind and eye, opening new worlds of opportunity for people with limited mobility. She has developed a Google awarded application that transforms the experience of historical locations for visitors. She is co-founder of the European Group of Applied Body Language based in Holland and member of the Board of the European Association of Synerlogists. She holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology from the University of Lancaster, a Master’s in Non-Verbal Communication and Synergology. She is a graduate of the Paul Ekman Emotional Intelligence Academy in the UK, a certified NLP Trainer with the International Society of NLP and a certified in Design Thinking, Lego Serious Play facilitator.
Member of the BOD
Stella Demou holds a Degree in Pharmacy from the Arnold and Marie Schwartz School of Pharmacy of Long Island University in New York. During her studies she worked at the Montefiore Hospital in New York. She has been working in DEMO S.A. Pharmaceutical Industry, one of the leading Pharmaceutical Companies in Southern Europe, since 1992. She started her career in the company in the production department, taking the role of Head of Production soon after. In 2005 she became a member of the Board of Directors of Demo S.A., while in 2008 she took over the Management of Operations. She currently oversees all day-to-day operations of the company as well as the design and implementation of the company’s strategic plans. During her time at Demo S.A., the company has grown to become a leading pharmaceutical production company specializing in the production of injectables primarily for use in hospitals. Its main campus of over 57,000m2 houses 4 manufacturing plants, operating over 55 production and packaging lines. The company employs approximately 1,000 personnel and exports to over 85 countries worldwide. Stella Demou also participates in numerous conferences and seminars in the field, both in Greece and abroad.
Zina Mavroeidi is the CEO of e-Fresh.gr, a technology driven online supermarket. She looks after daily operations for all departments of the company and sets up the future strategic objectives. E-fresh.gr is a fast-growing online retailer with double digit growth every year. It is known for utilizing technological innovations such as artificial intelligence and warehouse automations to offer a comprehensive service to the Greek consumer. Since e-Fresh.gr started trading in the end of 2016, it has successfully delivered more than 500,000 online grocery orders to thousands of Greek households. e-Fresh.gr is a vertically integrated organization with in-house facilities of warehouse management and end mile logistics. The company aims to raise awareness on how e-commerce can help us declutter our days and spend our free time on what is important to us. Prior to her current role, she was a big 4 strategy consultant specializing in big data and working equally with the technical, analytical, and strategic aspects of customer insight and data intelligence areas. She holds an MSc in operational research and management science from Warwick Business School and a bachelor degree in marketing from Athens University of Economics and Business. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, e-commerce, and the Greek potential. She is married and a mother of a 3 year-old.