True leaders show the way and walk the way
Let’s start going back a few years where it all started. What was the inner force that pushed you explore new horizons and how did we end up in today?
My entrepreneurial activities started 20 years ago when I left Greece in 1997 to move to Romania. I was running the holding company of a law firm at the time, and we had ambitious plans to expand all over South Eastern Europe. The inner force that pushed me to explore the world beyond the boundaries of Greece was my passion to be an entrepreneur in a global marketplace and to find a system that would support me in this endeavor. The opportunities for entrepreneurship in Greece were limited in those days, and to add to this, the Balkans had opened up their markets, which presented me with a great opportunity.
When you started your entrepreneurial efforts what were your thoughts and your expectations?
I was ambitious, but at the same time I had my fears like any other entrepreneur. However, if there is one adage that I have lived by it is the following – If you don’t dare, you don’t develop! With this in mind, I started off with the responsibility of running a newly established Law firm in Romania, with just 1 lawyer. I had a daring goal in mind – to become the largest Law firm in South Eastern Europe, and worked towards this with a single minded determination. Within 5 years, we had expanded to 12 offices all over South Eastern Europe with a total force of 100 Lawyers. Soon after, the opportunity to join Stanton Chase presented itself, which was a very interesting proposition, because not only would I be an employee of Stanton Chase, but also an entrepreneur with a small stake in the firm. The rest as they say is history. I joined Stanton Chase, and set up offices with my partners in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Dubai, growing my stake to become one of the main shareholders in the Middle East, Romania and Russia. Over the years I have served in a variety of roles, from being a Global Practice Leader, to the Regional VP EMEA, to the Global Vice Chairman Regions to finally a Board Member in Business Excellence. I was also the youngest candidate to be nominated for International Chairman a couple of years ago.
What was the biggest challenge and obstacle that has to overcome but at the same time defined success?
The biggest challenge that I have faced so far has been to operate successfully in so many different and diverse markets. This challenge was at the same time the reason for my success because I was able to adapt so well. I realized that in order to be successful, you have to become a chameleon, adjusting and understanding markets and cultures and people. In addition, the faster you are able to do this, the more successful you are! Furthermore, both the businesses that I was associated with as an entrepreneur were service oriented businesses, which basically deal with and depend on people. This is in itself the biggest challenge to be dealt with.
You are working on many different yet important business projects. Give us a brief outline of your activity.
My identity is deeply associated with Human Talent and Leadership Development through Stanton Chase, and I am keen to stay associated with both areas of focus. Presently Executive Search is the core part of our business, followed by Executive Assessments, Executive Coaching and Board and CEO Assessments. I am currently heading the Global Board and CEO Services Practice of Stanton Chase, and hope to grow it exponentially. With regards to the future, I would like to expand these existing business lines in various areas as well as invest in some other new business lines that are not necessarily related – such as International Trade.
What symbolizes for you the region of Middle East and how much is related to your personal development? What added more to your abilities to lead?
The Middle East represents to me a catalyst that put me out of my comfort zone, opened up a completely new world to me, and taught me how to adopt a multidimensional approach. What really contributed to my development as a leader was the intense competition in this relatively small market, where it is absolutely essential to learn how to deal with the idiosyncrasies of different cultures. The Middle East gave me the ingredients for success – a great team, good market conditions, safety and a stable family life. This is what I like to call the Dubai Model – Dubai gives you the necessary infrastructure that you need as a leader to be successful. It enables you to create an environment for your team to be successful, helps you equip them with the ammunition that they need to succeed in their work, and this ultimately leads to the success of the entire organization.
What symbolizes for you the region of Europe and Greece and especially what is this special element that you bring as Greek in Middle East and Globally.
Greeks are by nature risk takers and world travelers. Greece symbolizes my comfort zone. My roots have taught me how to compete successfully in a world full of bright people and how to adjust easily to new environments. Greece taught me to value ethics, to work hard, and the harder I worked, the luckier I got!
Throughout all this successful activity could you please tell me if there is any tested and proved recipe of success and how do you define success according to your criteria?
There is no recipe for success. However through the years, I have learned that no matter what, it is important to always stay humble. The number one priority for any leader should be his people. A successful leader is someone who empowers people and makes them more successful than himself or herself. As a good leader you should surround yourself with people more competent than you because a true leader has nothing to prove. A true leader is much more interested in his legacy than in personal achievements.
by Panos Manolopoulos
“ This Book is all about Inspiration drawn from interacting, discussing, coaching and advising Leaders around the world. Simple but Inspiring thoughts that can be guiding principles and insights for those in pursuit of 21st century excellence. Efficient Leaders are motivated, effective Leaders are Ambitious, Exceptional Leaders are Driven. Therefore, Inspiration is a book for future leaders who would be “inspiring the Inspirers”.
This book is inspired in line with the Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s famous 3 fingered victory salute. 21st century Leaders must be motivated to succeed, have the ambition to be victorious and the drive to leave a legacy by sharing the love. As future leaders we have the responsibility and we all have the opportunity available to us to achieve greatness that has no bounds”