Melina Kanaki

Alumna Profiled: Melina Kanaki
Graduated: Deree (’93)
Lives in: Athens – Greece
Current Position: Executive Director of Human Resources, Hill International, Inc.


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle


Melina, an accomplished Human Resources executive, graduated from Deree – The American College of Greece in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She then proceeded in acquiring a master’s degree in Industrial Relations, from the University of Sterling, United Kingdom.

Throughout her long-standing career, she has gained impressive skills in Strategic Human Resources, High Volume Recruiting, Hiring Practices, Personnel Development, Payroll and Benefits, Mergers and Acquisitions, Managerial and Legal Support, Crisis Management, Supporting Regional, and Global Leadership in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Displaying her 21 years of International Human Resources experience, and managing Worldwide Teams, Melina’s featured market sector experience emphasizes on the areas of Buildings, Transportation (Highways, Roads, Railways), Marine Engineering Infrastructure, Civil Engineering, Industrial and Process Infrastructure, Project Management Services, Power Generation and Oil and Gas (Offshore & Onshore) Infrastructure, Environmental Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare Infrastructure, Banking, Pharmaceuticals, Retail, Consulting Services, and Advertising.

Since 2004, Melina holds the position of Executive Director of Human Resources for EMEA, APAC, CIS, Turkey, Middle East countries within Hill International Inc., Worldwide Project Management Consultants. Some of the highly acclaimed companies that Melina has worked in as a Human Resources Manager and Senior Consultant include ICAP, Manpower Group, Grant Thornton, Diadikasia Business Consulting (DBC) S.A., CSC International Limited, as well as companies in the Advertising Sector.

Melina has participated in some of the most prestigious projects in the world, among which: the Grand Egyptian Museum – Egypt; Palm Jumeirah – Dubai; Tripoli University – Libya; Rising Taipei – China; EXPO 2017 – Kazakhstan; Baku Flame Towers – Azerbaijan; UNOG – Switzerland; Morine-Merdare Motorway – Kosovo; Port of Rijeka – Croatia, Trans Adriatic Pipeline – Greece, Astir Project, Piraeus Port Authority OLP.

Melina recently got promoted to the position of Vice President Human Resources International (Europe – Asia – Africa – Middle East).


Q&A

Q: What are three enduring values Deree has taught you?
Commitment, integrity and responsibility. 

Q: Describe Deree in three words.
Creativity, relationships/team building and diversity.

Q: What is your fondest memory from your time at Deree?
Deree takes me back to one of the most beautiful parts of my life. Back then, each day was a new discovery.

Q: What do you miss most from your days at Deree?
I miss the innocence of those days. Deree is so much more than a university, it’s a family.

Q: If you could go back in time, is there anything that would you do differently?
Certainly, the experience one gains when growing older provides the perspective of how things could have been done in a better or different way. After all, life must be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards.

However, I would not have changed my studies at Deree. 

Q: Where was your favorite spot on campus?
The classrooms at level 500 and the cafeteria. 

Q: Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Although I was not fond of the course, Statistics Professor Karambelas is the one to whom I owe my development as a Human Resources professional. Through his own unique way, he kind of provided a sharper focus and better clarity of what I should be doing in life and I am truly grateful for this. 

Q: After graduation, have you maintained a relationship with your school and classmates?
Yes, I have maintained relationships and we see each other despite our busy schedules. There were strong bonds created back then.

Q: Looking back, how did your time at Deree help you become the person you are today?
Deree has definitely contributed to who I am today and has certainly been the solid ground for my professional journey. It provided the ingredients of integrity, creativity, responsibility, confidence and independence. Deree provides a holistic educational background, combines theory with practice, merges the best American and Greek practices, and teaches a set of skills which are rare to find within other educational institutions in the country.

Q: What advice would you give a new Deree student?
Absorb each day, each experience, live the journey and this will be the basic footprint for the next level. Do not let any difficulties disappoint you. Those are the ones that will lead you onto the next steps and make you the solid personality you need to be.

“It’s not about how hard you can hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it. 

Q: What is your motto in life?
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

“There is no elevator to success – you have to take the stairs.”


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