Aftermath of the 1st Symposium in Creative Leadership

Thursday, 20/02/2020

Creativity in leadership generates value for today’s enterprises and guarantees their prosperity, was the Symposium’s key message

Stimulating, thought-provoking conversations, distinguished guests and an enthusiastic audience were the main features of the 1st Symposium held on Wednesday, February 12, at the Lighthouse of the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center. 

The Symposium , organized by the SEV Center of Excellence in Creative Leadership took place in the context of the Learning Alliance, a joint initiative by SEV and Alba, and coincided with the first anniversary of the Center’s operations. Seasoned industry leaders were there to discuss their experiences and the role of creativity in the long-term success of their businesses and presented the many facets, challenges and rewards of creative leadership.


The discussions were moderated by Ms. Maria Akrivou, journalist, and Dr. Charalampos Mainemelis, Director of the SEV Center of Excellence in Creative Leadership and Professor of Organizational Behavior at Alba. Moreover, top Greek company representatives from the manufacture industry, digital entrepreneurship, the creative economy (design, advertising, film production, fashion, music, wine and gastronomy, film directing, video games and more) offered food for thought and creative inspiration through their testimonials, as well as concrete examples of creativity and innovation from their companies.

In his welcome speech, Mr. Stelios Argyros, Chairman of the Board of  Directors of the ALBA Association, noted: “Excellence is what mobilizes a company to build relations of trust and respect in the environment; it is through this mobilization that the creative leader finds the motivation to move on and create prosperity.”

The opening section themed “The Greek Challenge of the Creative Leadership” featured Mssrs. Steve Vranakis, former executive Creative Director of Google Creative Lab, now Chief Creative Officer of Greece; Christos A. Ioannou, Director, Employment and Labour Market Affairs; and Alba Dean Dr. Kostas Axarloglou.

“Greek needs unity, it needs to come together as a country again,” said Mr. Vranakis. “What I hope to do is create a formula for change, to come up with up with a vehicle that will allow public government tackle challenges and communicate what we can do as a nation. I am here applying the skills where I think I can make a bit of an impact. I believe in the leadership of this country, I believe in the country. Historically, we’ve punched way above our weight and, if we create the conditions and the environment for the people to succeed, we will do it again,” Mr. Vranakis concluded.

Mr. Ioannou commented that “in a small open economy like Greece, our prosperity is not ensured,” and went on to add: “in order to offer social prosperity we must empower those who are creative leaders; and these leaders will ultimately lead us to productive transformation and bring entrepreneurial and social prosperity.” Mr. Ioannou also spoke of the skills gap, “the lack of human, technical and creative resources” tackled by enterprises across all levels of hierarchy, which hinders growth.

To tackle this lack of skills, in this age of digital economy and disruption, “educational institutions need to nurture in their students a set of skills that will allow them to grow: curiosity in learning, humbleness and adaptability,” commented Dean Axarloglou expressing the point of view of academia. “Creativity is a competence inherent in all of us but in order for it to grow it needs an environment and a scope. Therefore, educational institutions need such structures to improve creativity and adjust skills. At the end of the day, we must all be students, continuous learners.”

When asked whether creative leaders are born or made, Dean Axarloglou answered that creative leaders can be educated, yet within an environment that will allow them to flourish and added that such an environment can be achieved through synergies between the university and the wider community.  

“Creativity is uniquely human and leads to self-actualization and self-fulfillment,” commented Mr. Vranakis. On whether creative leadership will dominate AI or vice versa, Mr. Vranakis said that “the human mind is very difficult to replicate, technically and scientifically” and concluded that what kills creativity is complacency and routine.



Quotes on creative leadership


“To us the idea is everything. Little does it matter where it comes from. Each and everyone of us need and must express their dream about the future of the company they work for. We must inspire our people!” Dimitra Kolotoura, Co-founder, Zeus+Δione


“People must feel free in their work environment and a leader has to create the conditions that will help to unlock all their talents.” George Zarogiannis, President and Managing Director, SOHOSQUARE Athens


“Companies that prosper are those that invest in quality only. The quality of the final product is what defines the business’s longevity.” Vaggelis Gerovasileiou, Oenologist and Owner, Gerovasileiou Estate 


“The views and reactions of my colleagues and my customers are the main source of my inspiration. They give me ideas about how I can create new dishes and improve existing ones. What matters most, however, is to be able to inspire the people I work with and show respect to them and their work.” Lefteris Lazarou, Chef and Owner, Varoulko Seaside  


“Go to the cinema, the theatre, visit art exhibitions… Read and find inspiration in every step. It is the only way to move your business forward and establish it.” Loukia Beikou, Designer and Owner, Atelier Loukia



“You have to put your ego aside if you want your art to be accomplished and complete. An inflated ego is creativity’s worst enemy.” Olga Malea, Film director  


“Companies today cannot afford to stand still. They have to use technology to the maximum if they want to be considered modern and facilitate everyday work.”  Giorgos Panou,  Group Digital Transformation & Digital Innovation Director, Mellon Technologies


Download the Symposium's agenda (in Greek) here 

and the speakers Bios here


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