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The 33rd ACEO Leadership Conference entitled “PURPOSE – Pause & Think in order to Lead with Purpose” was held on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 May 2022
and it was a field of fruitful dialogue for the 400 business executives who attended the Conference in person and online. The Conference addressed the concept of Purpose,, which, in recent years, has become a prominent term in business language and this concept is the starting point for redefining organizations and leaders in a changing world, focusing on how a business can take care of its profitability as well as for the common good.
In his opening speech, Mr. Vassilis RabbatChairman of the Board of Directors of the Association of Chief Executive Officers (ACEO) and President and Managing Director at XEROX HELLAS, welcomed the participants and he referred to the message of the Conference: “During the last two years we are dealing with a pandemic that reminded us of our interdependence. We became a chain in order to achieve a common goal. In this day and age, we have to do it again. A war is escalating day by day. Inflation and price increases have an impact on the weakest, unprotected and needy strata of society. Climate change is showing its teeth. In the past we may have had the luxury as business leaders to focus on the tree, on our goals. I ask you that we collectively focus on the forest. This is the common good that gave its name to this year’s Conference”.
The first day of the Conference began with a historical review of the importance of Purpose. Mr. Nikos Mourkogiannis,Business Consultant, Lawyer, Visiting Professor at Cass Business School and author of the book entitled “Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies”, analyzed the concept of the Aristotelian final cause, e.g., the purpose, as the crossroads between ethics and morality which individuals and businesses go through and he stated that “In recent years, we have been talking about the dominance of Purpose in various areas, from climate change to quality. Its relationship with the company’s performance is very much in the limelight. It’s the sustainable advantage that allows companies to reach their full potential”.
Live from London, Mr. Alex Edmans, Professor of Finance at London Business School, Managing Editor at the leading academic finance journal in Europe ‘Review of Finance’, author of the book “Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose & Profit” as well as a member of the Steering Group of The Purposeful Company, he referred to the implementation of Purpose in practice. He replied to the fundamental question: How can we turn purpose into measurable results. The leader of each company gives the definition of what the purpose is and what it is NOT, so that this definition is spread throughout the entire structure of the company. During the speech, he stressed that: “Purpose allows the Management of a company to think in a way that is not strictly financial”.
Then, four executives, Vasilios Katsos, Chairman & Co Founder of VNK Capital SA, Mr. Nikos Loulis, Chairman of LOULIS MILLS S.A, Theodosis Michalopoulos, General Manager at Microsoft Greece, Cyprus & Malta and Mr. Michalis Petychakis, Chief Technology Officer at Orfium, referred to their own leadership experiences and the important lessons learned from these experiences.
Speaking from the rostrum of the Conference, Mr. Katsos said that “We must constantly listen to the secrets and the essence of the companies and the market”. . He referred to the importance of the Purpose to the success of a company, as well as to the importance that Millennials and Generation Z attach on the culture of their potential employers. Mr. Mr. Loulis described his own journey towards changing his company’s culture and adopting inclusion policies and he stressed that “We will only move forward if we work as a team, starting from the leader’s admission that there are weaknesses that must and can be fixed. We must become agents of change, being faithful to our values”.
Mr. Michalopoulos focused on inclusion and integration policies that help organizations evolve. He stressed that “Purpose must be communicated from the leader to the employees. Only then they will feel that they are proudly parts of this purpose”. Finally, Mr. referred to transparency, justice, efficiency and technology as the essential pillars that are required by the organizations aiming to the common good.
The first day of the Conference ended with the speech of Ms. Christa Gyori, CEO and co-founder of the Organization Leaders on Purpose, who referred to the new business asset, the purpose! She defined the purpose as the commitment of individuals and companies to create value for the common good. The role of today’s CEOs is now decisive since research shows that their actions will affect significantly the next hundreds of years! She stressed that “The role of leadership is today more important than ever”.
33rd Hellenic Leadership Conference
27 & 28/5/2022
Grand Resort Lagonissi
The second day of the Conference had, as always, a social and experiential charaster. Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst Mr. Savvas Savvopoulos, spoke about how psychosomatic balance is built, stating that “Amidst social stress, pressure and the pursuit of perfection, we often forget our own body, prioritizing other needs. Then the psychosomatic balance is lost and a lot of effort and honesty is required to find ourselves again. We must give ourselves the opportunity to live the beautiful moments that we need, to enjoy and be happy. That is good for health”.
“The things I didn’t do are the things I didn’t believe in” said the award-winning marathon runner and author, Ms. Maria Polyzou, in her inspiring speech, and she pointed out that since she can do it, so can we. “It is very important to define our goal and keep it in our mind.”
The next speaker was the popular performer, Alkistis Protopsalti, who spoke at the Leadership Conference about her life, how she overcomes difficulties, her excellent relationship with sports and her eternal love, music. “Music is the art that connects people more than all the arts. You can see how happy and grateful they are for the music, because they have created memories with it. Music is a medicine”, she explained. The participants in the Conference had the opportunity to ask the well-known performer many questions during the warm discussion with Mr. John Anastasopoulos, Advisor to the ACEO Board. They both addressed the meaning of success. “Success is about celebrating small victories every time you reach a goal or overcome an obstacle, being in control of your own destiny; that’s success” Ms. Protopsalti stated and Mr. Anastasopoulos added that “Every small failure is a step that can bring us closer to the desired result, after all, they say that victory is can be snatched from the jaws of defeat, right? The whole point, the ultimate purpose is achieved learning from problems and difficulties and by praising and celebrating successes”.
Mr. John Anastasopoulos, Advisor to the ACEO Board, during his speech, reviewed the key messages of the speeches of the two-day Conference, and he stressed the importance of Purpose for businesses. “The purpose is the moral DNA of a company; therefore it must be durable and not pretentious. It serves as a value compass of the organisation”. Mr. Anastasopoulos, closing his speech, pointed out that “a business is successful when it adopts and supports the concept of purpose, making it a pillar of its management”. .
For yet another year, the Conference was coordinated by Mr. Haridimos Tsoukas, Scientific Advisor to ACEO, Professor at the Universities of Cyprus & Warwick.
2022 ACEO Conference Organising Committee
Nasos Bikas · Managing Director at Valsamidis SA
Lefteris Anastasakis, Vice President of the Board of PRIORITY QUALITY CONSULTANTS SA.
John Anastasopoulos, Advisor to the ACEO Board
Babis Georgakopoulos, Creative & Communication Partner
Elena Kallona, Managing Director, JUNGHEINRICH HELLAS LTD
Konstantinos Moraitakis, President and CEO at UNISON FACILITY SERVICES
Yannis Papachristou, CEO Antenna Group
Dimitris Papanikitopoulos, President of LINKAGE GREECE & CYPRUS
Valeria Tsami, Managing Director at FOCUS BARI SA
Andreas Halbes, Head of AUDI, BENTLEY, KOSMORIDE & LUXURY HIRE at Kosmocar S.A.
2022 ACEO Conference Advisory Committee
Yannis Argyrakos, Director, OTEACADEMY
Konstantinos Yazitzoglou, Managing Director and CEO of GEOELLAS SA
Alexandros Daniilidis, Managing Director of Athenian Brewery SA
Nikos.Drivakos, Director, Country Manager Greece, Cyprus & Adriatic Region, S.C. JOHNSON HELLAS LTD
Sakis Exarchos, President and Managing Director at Vantage Towers Greece
Olga . Itsiou, Group Technical Director at DIMAND SA REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT
Anthi Iliopoulou, General Manager at ALTER EGO SA
Fani Klida, Head of Learning & Development, PEOPLECERT
The ACEO Board of Directors would like to thank most warmly all those whose contributions made it possible to organize successfully the 33rd Leadership Conference and especially the ACEO Organizing and Advisory Committees, the sponsors, the ACEO partners and Ms. Efi Pintzou, who had the duty of organizing and promoting the event.