Graduation Year: 2009 (MBA 17)
CIO, Country Manager at Alve.com (subsidiary of Skroutz.gr, Turkey)
LinkedIn Profile here
Could you update us on your latest professional developments?
For the last 3 years I was responsible for the content/data provided by Skroutz.gr, the leading price comparison site in Greece. Such a position required the building and optimization of internal business processes across all functions of the company, as well as communication with users and clients (e-shops). Given the fact that Skroutz.gr has become a well established company, the need to expand arose. Therefore, I was asked to lead and supervise our first expansion abroad (Turkey), Alve.com. As a CIO/Start-Up Manager, I am responsible for the founding of the new company along with another Turkish partner who will act as CCO.
The first challenge is that we have yet to find an ideal person for this job…
How did ALBA help you in your career?
In order to answer this question I must go back to my past as a technician and web developer. During that period of my life, I realized that in most companies there is a substantial gap between managers and technicians/developers. This fact created many problems in communication, coordination and eventually these obstacles affected the overall quality of any project. I really loved being a developer but on the other hand I always wanted to combine my creativity with business requirements and corporate thinking. For a developer to harness his creativity is a difficult task, since he also has to keep in mind his business goals. On the opposite side, a manager must also take into account the technical restrictions/best practices, in order to consult the client and be able to point him in the right direction.
This is where ALBA came in. What ALBA gave me was this new perspective. I lacked the “business thinking” and I wanted to have it in order to bridge the aforementioned gap that characterizes most high technology firms. In a few words, I was taught how to be creative without sacrificing efficiency at the cost of a company’s ultimate goals. I now see the “whole picture” by both interpreting business needs and forming strategies while efficiently managing teams of individuals.
Share with us your fondest memory while studying at ALBA
That is a difficult one since I have a lot of good memories! Hmmm, I would say that my fondest memory involves my trip to Ghana for the needs of my team’s dissertation. It was a unique experience for me, to build a complete marketing plan for the expansion of a pharmaceutical company in the market of Ghana. Much like what I am going to do now for my current company.
Even though our dissertation required a trip to an under-development country such as Ghana, I hardly say no to unique experiences/challenges. At this point I would like to sincerely thank my other teammates who shared the same courage and determination. Without their agreement I would not have lived this experience and their actions were also a lesson-learned regarding teamwork and reliance on your coworkers. Thanks to all of them, our dissertation was a great success even though it posed a great challenge.
Most graduates look for jobs at multinationals once they complete their MBA. You, on the other hand, started working at Skroutz upon graduating from ALBA. What made you decide to enter the world of start-ups? What advice would you share with fellow alums on joining the start-up community?
To be frank, the fact that I joined a small company back then does not mean that I too wasn’t looking for a job at a multinational company. I was open to all opportunities but I also had certain goals in my mind as to the sector I would like to be employed. As a matter of fact, before joining Skoutz.gr I had turned down a couple of proposals.
I understand that the crisis has made the choices very limited nowadays, but I strongly believe that having certain strict aspirations will prove most helpful while job hunting. It will also help your performance if you manage to get a job that satisfies these aspirations rather than getting the first job that you come across.
Have in mind that, while being an employee at a multinational company gives you relative safety and the privilege of quickly learning how a big company operates, a smaller company gives you the chance to do literally everything along with a sense of fulfillment once your job bears fruit. Moreover, it is harder to stand-out in a multinational than it is with a start-up but this comes at a cost too. Your failures at a start-up are more noticeable.
Therefore, I would advise those who think about joining a start-up to not feel diminished (once they are asked to do the smallest of things) and go for it if they are up to the challenge. High risks, high gains. And if you are determined to work hard then you will realize that the risks are not that high at all. In the end you will feel more fulfilled, self-confident and your professional development may exceed even your own expectations or the expectations you may have from a multinational company.