Monday, December 2, 2019, was a special occasion for the 322 new Alba graduates – and their families – who gathered at the National Opera of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, to attend their Commencement Ceremony and to celebrate the ending of an unparalleled learning journey and the hopeful beginning of a new exciting adventure of personal and professional development!
Coming from 21 nationalities and having completed 12 different programs, the freshly-minted graduates joined the big 56,000-strong ACG family by receiving their degrees in the presence of 1,400 guests, among whom the night’s keynote speaker Deputy Minister of Digital Governance, responsible for Greece’s digital strategy and for attracting investment in Digital Technology to Greece, Mr. Grigoris Zarifopoulos.
"Tonight’s event is both culmination and prologue, as we recognize significant academic milestones achieved and anticipate our graduates’ promising futures” said President Dr. David G. Horner in his welcome speech. In light of the recently announced ACG 150 strategic plan, President Horner assured both graduates and ACG supporters that the College remains committed to not only preparing its students but also to making sure that there are expanding economic opportunities in Greece. “We look forward to a brighter economic future in which, we are confident, tonight’s graduates will play key roles in Greece and around the world” the President concluded and presented the keynote speaker Mr. Zarifopoulos.
“It gives me great hope to see young people investing in their personal development – great hope for our country – and it is exactly this hope we try to further strengthen in order to move Greece to a new era” said enthusiastically Mr. Zarifopoulos at the sight of the new Alba graduates. The Deputy Minister then elaborated on the five pillars that will help make the country an attractive digital transformation destination. Addressing the crucial role of startups and the creation of ecosystems, Mr. Zarifopoulos praised the brilliant minds in the country that have created innovative solutions and spoke of the government’s role vis a vis these ecosystems: “We as a government need to make sure that as a country we support startups and that we provide them with tools when it comes to know how, when it comes to financing and building this ecosystem further.”
Mr. Zarifopoulos also stressed the importance of young people as a sine qua non of the digital transformation. “You, especially the young people of this country, you are an integral part of it; we cannot do it without you. For the country’s transformation will have to go hand in hand with your personal transformation and, ultimately, our personal transformation. As technology advances in very rapid rhythm, we all need to personally adjust and adapt and this is a key skill that you especially need to develop and I’m sure the faculty has helped you in this journey; we all need to become able to adapt, to move out of our comfort zone and we all need to become able to continuously learn. Because whatever you learn today will most likely not be so relevant in the near future; but what you need to learn is the ability to keep learning and this is something that we also need to make sure that we do when it comes to primary, secondary and tertiary education.
We need to make sure that we don’t just build the digital skills that I was talking about but we also build a change in culture, a change in mentality, a change that will allow especially young people to be able to go through this continuous process of continuous development; that is a requisite condition, a prerequisite if we want to move the country forward. So, if we do that and you invest in yourself, you invest in this personal transformation that will have to go hand in hand with the institutional, with the country transformation that we are talking about, then we will succeed in making Greece a modern country, we will succeed in keeping you in this country and getting you to good jobs and also reverse the brain drain and all the people that have left in recent years come back to our country and work with us to help us grow this country further.”
Following Mr. Zarifopoulos, valedictorian Apostolos Tzampazis, MSc in Finance graduate and Associate at PWC, took the stage to deliver the farewell speech to his fellow graduates and the rest of the audience.
“I am deeply honored to be here with you today for the 2019 graduation ceremony of the leading business school in Greece.” Thanking all those who contributed to this amazing learning journey, Mr. Tzampazis fondly remembered his days at Alba and shared the secret of what makes Alba a unique educational destination: “Looking back, applying at Alba… and being accepted, was one of the best decisions I ever made. It’s not about the ‘paper’ you receive at the end of this journey. It’s about the mentality, the business and innovative thinking and most importantly, the moments you spend and the memories you create with beautiful people.
There are times that it is hard to see that you are stepping into the right path. There are moments when we doubt ourselves, when we doubt our choices. It is important to know that these moments have not come to stay… they have come to pass and as they are passing by they should remind us of only one thing. To never give up on our dreams.
Today we are not only celebrating our graduation… we celebrate the new us” Apostolos exclaimed proudly as the crowd applauded.
Mr. Fotis Daousis, Treasurer of the Alba Alumni Association, greeted the graduates with this warm and inspirational message: “Rest assured that your professional life will be full of many wins, one each time you find solutions to everyday issues, using the Business Unusual methods and tools you’ve studied at Alba Graduate Business School at The American College of Greece.Our wish to you is to make a positive impact to the world that surrounds us, to become a role model for the people that will have the opportunity to collaborate with you.
Be a unique, humble and confident leader, interact and pass your values to everyone with respect and concern, and do good things outside your job. In other words, find the way to create more leaders to propagate our common quest: To make the world a better place.”
Last but not least, Alba Dean Dr. Kostas Axarloglou congratulated the graduating class for completing a challenging learning journey and welcomed them to the era of ecosystems: “Through your Alba ‘Business Unusual’ journey, you have been exposed to a diversity of learning stimuli, a richness of thinking frameworks and analytical tools, a plurality of perspectives and points of view; and empowered with the School’s core values in developing a learning mindset and attitude, you could shape up the future and not simply be part of the future! Ethics, collaboration, resilience, empowerment, service, trust, empathy, the Schools’ core values, through your Alba learning journey are now your own values. In the era of ecosystems, learning happens through sharing, collaboration and interaction with your learning network, moving thus from an “ego-system” to a learning “Eco-system”. The Alba learning Eco-system. You are now prepared not only to prove yourself but to improve yourself.”
Dr. Axarloglou also talked about the alignment of Alba’s leadership with ACG’s strategic plan to establish itself “as a learning ecosystem of value creation and of co-creation of purpose. That is the vision of our School’s leadership: through the ‘ACG 150: Advancing the Legacy, Growing Greece’ fundraising campaign, to advance our School to an ecosystem that not only creates value through education, but also co-creates purpose, aspiring to become a hub for stakeholders who aim to transform education in the country, and through it, facilitate the transformation of the country itself in to a modern, progressive, meritocratic, innovative and just society for all its people” and continued: “Only then transformation becomes renewable, sustainable and intergenerational; only then transformation becomes a legacy! Keep learning and keep sharing! The School needs your collaborative spirit, the country needs your ingenuity, our society needs your ‘business unusual’ values and vision.”
The Ceremony concluded with an impressive reception at the National Opera foyer, where the graduates had the chance to celebrate their special night with their beloved people.
Class of 2019, we are proud of your achievements, your passion, your growth! Wishing you the best of success in your future endeavors!