Leading Communications Professionals & Alumni on Campus
It’s extremely rewarding to connect with inspirational speakers and to have the opportunity of inviting esteemed alumni back on campus to share their valuable professional insights!
On Tuesday, March 29, the Communication and Management Societies, in collaboration with the Office of Development & Alumni Relations, held the Communicate Your Way to Success conference in the JSB library to analyze and practically relate communications to business. The event included presentations and a panel discussion, answering crucial questions such as “What are the requirements to succeed in the Communications Industry?” and “How can youth employability increase?”
Vice President of Enrollment and Administration, Dr. Dimitris Andreou, welcomed the audience and talked about the international internship and study abroad program offered by Deree though its collaboration with the international conglomerate, Libra Group. Dr. Andreou stressed the fact that, for Deree alumni who have experienced the Libra internship, “employability is greater than 90% within the first 6 months after graduation.” The VP also referred to the College’s work with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which has led to the development of a scholarship program to support Greek public university students in pursuing parallel studies at Deree.
Daniel McCormac, Head of the Communication Department at Deree, addressed the students in the audience, commenting, “It is vital to supplement what you do in the classroom with what happens in the industry.” McCormac highlighted the significance of internships and of events that can bridge academia with the professional reality. He charismatically introduced the guests, saying that they each bring “a whole suitcase full of experiences to share with us!”
The keynote speaker of the Communicate Your Way to Success conference was Libra’s Gareth Zundel, who joined the international business group in 2007. The Libra Group comprises 30 subsidiaries in 35 countries across six continents, with operations in the industries of shipping, aviation, real estate, hospitality, and energy – as well as a range of diversified investments. As the Head of Communications, Zundel oversees all of the group’s branding, publicity, and varied marketing activities ranging from editorials and ad designs, to exhibition stands and the running of 55 websites across the world.
The Head of Communications mentioned that one of the core members of his digital marketing team is ACG alumnus Dimitris Chaintinis who graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Marketing Management in 2012. While at Deree, Chaintinis undertook an internship at Libra, shortly after which he was employed by the Libra Group as Marketing Assistant. Only two years after finishing his studies, he now holds the position of Marketing Executive at the business group.
Zundel, with a 35-year career in helping companies achieve profitable long-term growth, shared his insight into the PR and communications industry in an interesting and honest way – something which is at the core of any brand or reputation as he explained. “Managing reputation is vital… Truth and trust are everything,” said the speaker adding that it is imperative for individuals to also manage their own brand, “You are only one person, you only have one reputation.”
Throughout his keynote speech, Zundel shared valuable insights about the field, including a crash-course in brand building and management, how to effectively communicate with different types of people, and business tips from his personal experience.
The second part of the communication and marketing event involved a panel discussion moderated by Zundel, and short presentations by panel members, including industry experts and esteemed alumni.
Pierce ’70 graduate Aphrodite A. Bletas, President at Hellenic Chinese Center for Entrepreneurship, spoke of the power of real, face-to-face personal communication, as opposed to virtual or digital communication, examining for example the inherent value that body language adds to interpersonal communication.
Anastasia Sideri, Communications Director at The Coca-Cola Company Central and Southeast Europe, shared her insight as an impact-making expert. By building on the points made by Bletas, Sideri explored the art of giving meaning to the vocal and non-vocal signals of communication.
Deree ’85 alumnus Dimitris Kordas discussed the transformation of ad agencies to creative solutions companies, based on his experience as Joint CEO at JWT Athens, a leading integrated communications agency in Greece. Kordas also examined the notable shift from paid media to the delivery of experiences, and analyzed industry trends for the upcoming five years, highlighting an emphasis on digital analytics, content marketing, and the increased use of data.
Coca-Cola Tria Epsilon’s HR Director for Greece and Cyprus, Gina Kyvetou, examined the importance of placing faith in people rather than in a process, adding that a company cannot compromise its people and the relationships it holds.
The panel members offered their professional advice regarding the hiring process, such as the skills and qualifications they look for, and in-depth interview tips. Through the discussion, the guests emphasized the value of a diverse workforce, and of a company culture that embraces differences and openly seeks different views, extending to human rights policies such as the expression religious beliefs, and striving for gender and ethnic inclusion.
Events such as this conference bring together various ACG stakeholders – students, faculty, alumni, and supporters of our educational programs – for a constructive dialogue that bridges academia and the business world for the greater good.
At ACG, we aim to strengthen the bonds between our students and varied industry experts, renowned professionals, and esteemed alumni, as every piece of advice a student receives, every story they hear, and every experience they collect has the power to mold their understanding of the world and their professional expectations; but it can also shape who they are as a person, from the values they bring with them to their first job, to how big they will dare to dream.