William & Mary is the second oldest higher learning institution in the United States. It was founded in 1693 by royal charter officially granted by the English crown and is based in Williamsburg, Virginia. Known as the “alma mater of the nation,” W&M has trained prominent leaders for more than three centuries, including US Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler. Recent alumni include Jill Ellis ’88, who won two World Cups as the coach of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, award-winning actress Glenn Close ’74, current White House Communications Director Jen Psaki ’00, and Secretary of Defense for George Bush and Barack Obama administrations Robert M. Gates ’65. William & Mary has strong partnerships with leading universities in the world such as Oxford University, the Université de Montpellier, Keio University, Yonsei University, Beijing Normal University, and the National University of Singapore.
W&M within the Global Immersion Program was hosted by the Athens University of Economics and Business, bringing to Athens its Executive MBA program, consisting of 17 students and professor, Mr. Rajiv Kohli. This is a very honorable collaboration for AUEB, as W&M traditionally visits China with its Executive MBA. The guests stayed for a week and a comprehensive program of visits was designed for them, which aimed at giving students a picture not only of the macroeconomic size of the country, but also of its entrepreneurship. The coordinator of the program is the Vice Rector for International Cooperation and Development, Professor Vassilis Papadakis.
Short description of the Educational Program
Monday 25 October:
The visit started in the morning with a presentation by Dr. Marianthi Anastasatou, economist, Bank of Greece, who described the Greek crisis, how we managed to recover and the prospects of the Greek economy.
Afterwards a lecture was delivered by AUEB’s Professor Nikos Vettas, General Manager of IOBE, who focused on the business environment, the sectors that contribute to the Greek economy and discussed strategy proposals for investment / strengthening of specific sectors of the Greek economy which the potential to provide significant impetus to growth dynamics.
In the afternoon, the Executive MBA students of William and Mary University visited remotely the Pfizer Global Center for Digital Innovation in Thessaloniki. Launched in 2020, GCDI now employs more than 300 people and focuses on innovative new products in support of Pfizer’s digital strategy. The students had the opportunity to be informed by the Pfizer Management Team, consisting of Nico Gariboldi, Senior Director, Anastasia Matonaki, Senior Project Manager, Gely Iliopoulou, HR Manager, and Dimitris Papakonstantinou, Finance Partner. The executives explained the reasons why Thessaloniki was chosen among many European cities to house the GCDI and communicated Pfizer’s vision for Greece. In addition, they discussed with the students the strengths and prospects of the Greek scientific potential in high technology fields.
Tuesday 26 October:
The next morning the Athens Stock Exchange welcomed the students of the Executive MBA of W&M, together with students of the Executive MBA at AUEB. The guest students, together with their teachers Mr. Rajiv Kohli and V. Papadakis announced the start of the program and attended speeches by Socrates Lazaridis, CEO of ATHEX, and Rozita Terlixidou, CEO’s office at ATHEX, on: “Stock Markets Outlooks, the Present, and Challenges”. In addition, Mr. Dimitris Karaiskakis, COO ATHEX and Dimitris Gardelis, IT Systems Development Director at ATHEX, gave a talk on: ATHEX Digital Strategy. Finally, AUEB’s professor, Mr. George Doukidis, gave a talk on: Digital Transformation in the post-Covid Era, in which he presented four real case studies of digital transformation of Greek companies.
In the afternoon, the Executive MBA students of William and Mary University, guests of the Athens University of Economics and Business together with students of the Executive MBA at AUEB, visited the Ministry of Digital Governance. The students had the opportunity to attend a presentation by the Minister of State and Digital Government Mr. Kyriakos Pierrakakis on “Transforming the Greek State”. The Minister developed his vision for the digital transformation of the state, analyzed his strategy for the realization of this vision and discussed with the students of the two institutions the challenges he faces in his endeavor.
Wednesday 27 October:
In the morning, Apivita (Cosmetics) welcomed the guests from W&M at its facilities in Markopoulo, Attica. The students had the opportunity to attend presentations by Mr. Tassos Tsoukalas, Head of Apivita HR, Education & Sustainability as well as by Mr. Sotiris Pastras, CSR Manager. The speeches focused on issues of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, as APIVITA is the first Greek company that has ever managed to be awarded the most recognized certification in the world, which is given to companies that achieve the highest levels of social and environmental responsibility. An important part of the day was the visit to the Apivita beehives and the excellent description which portrayed the way of life and development of the bee community.
At noon, the CEO of OTE (Telecommunications) Mr. Michalis Tsamaz and the top management team of the Organization welcomed the Rector and Vice Rector of the Athens University of Economics, Professors Dimitris Bourantonis and Vassilis Papadakis, respectively, together with the professor of W&M, Dr Rajiv Kohli, and the 17 Executive MBA guest students. The American students had the opportunity to discuss with Mr. Tsamaz and the top management team of OTE the Organization’s transformation program in the last decade, while analyzing the challenges that OTE encountered as well as the vision for the future of the organization.
Thursday, October 28:
On Thursday, W&M students and their companions visited the archeological site of Delphi.
Friday, October 29:
On Friday morning, the guests visited the ACEin Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at AUEB where they had the opportunity to attend a presentation regarding COSCO’s investment in Piraeus. Guests of the Athens University of Economics and Business were also Mr. Tassos Vamvakidis, Commercial Director and Mr. Panagiotis Zerefos, CFO of Piraeus Container Terminal S.A – China Ocean Shipping Company, Limited – COSCO. The two executives presented COSCO’s vision for the development of the port of Piraeus in one of the largest ports in the EU as well as its prospects. They also engaged in answering students’ questions.
The program of visits ended on Friday afternoon by AUEB’s professor Katerina Pramatari, who presented to the students and their companions the Greek business landscape for start-ups. At the same time, she presented the actions undertaken by Universities like AUEB, to encourage both students and graduates to move towards a more entrepreneurial direction.