Kefalogiannis: The last thing, but also extremely important, is innovation. Although we are in a sector that nobody would think of that innovation would be important. We did a great research with Athens Polytechnic. We launch a new product now, which is a worldwide innovation—thanks to the strong research department and the professors there. So, there are some good brains here that can help Greece. We just launched a bar, a fruit and nut bar, which is based on the ancient Greeks, which is a combination of figs, walnuts, sesame. It is a modern product.
An ancient Greek energy bar, legal Olympic doping so to say.
Yiannis Olympios: I am CEO and joint owner of V+O Communications. We are a group of companies in the marketing communications environment. At our headquarter in Athens we are 140 people of eight nationalities, working for about 150 clients across six countries. We started 3 years ago in Athens and now have offices in Tirana, Sofia, Belgrade, Bucharest and Nicosia. I have never lived in such a time of accelerated change as in this period in Greece. As the state receeds, a more activist and articulated consumer demands more from the corporate world and civil society and less from the government. Policy makers and regulators are now externally policed and pushed to bring down the final barriers for entry that had kept oligopolies in place and robbed consumers of choice and competition.
Corporations now must regulate themselves and grow into a virtuous cycle of smaller margins, transparent production processes and a more honestly articulated offer. Media—for years a stagnant pool of political and business interest—is evolving from being on the side of stasis to being a catalyst for change. As the traditional and often corrupted mediating filters of media and government change in scale and influence, so does the new Greek citizen start to hope for a different narration.
Finally, much is written in the Greek and Global press about the “enormous, corrupt and costly public sector” and not much on the private sector corruption that incentivised or even created it. Many sectors for decades enjoyed profit margins unheard of in any other European economy.
The economy had cartel-like characteristics where many International companies and Greeks enjoyed immunity from regulators. Its exciting that as the Central State shrinks, Greece is becoming more creative—and capital will follow creativity, it always does. A new, more daring country will emerge. We do much transactional work and Greece’s expansive privatisation plan has placed the country in the global investment shop window. Two years ago there was a slightly carniverous underlying taste to investor interest. Anonymous, impatient money was hovering over Greece and driven by the possibility of fast returns. This government has devoted time and effort to convince serious long term investors with patient capital to focus and invest. The first signs are there and I am sure it will continue.