Alumni profile - Filotas-Georgios Niarchos
Queen Mary helps you discover new opportunities and take a deeper look at a great variety of jobs that I, personally, could never have imagined were possible in my hometown. Not only my studies, but also the entrepreneurial environment at Queen Mary, gave me the opportunity and motivation to begin my own companies.
What did you study at Queen Mary and what are you doing now? During my stay in London I obtained my MA in International Relations and Politics. Nowadays I am actually working as a CEO at AMEN Technologies, a startup with my father about nanotechnology. I also work at Vodafone Greece in the Digital Department and I am a co-founder and Action Planner at We4All, an environmental organisation I started with friends.
Wow! It sounds like you are a very busy man, can you describe what a typical working day looks like for you? A typical day begins with a great breakfast. The core to success is to take care of yourself. After that I go to Vodafone Greece, where I deal with the internal and external communication of the Digital department. There are a lot of challenges in this role as I have to be careful with every step I take when updating the rest of the company about innovations in telecommunications. After finishing work at Vodafone I either go to AMEN Technologies or We4All. I either help my father at AMEN to promote our products to institutes/universities to help them work on their research, or I go to We4All to work on new activities to help save the environment. At the end of the day I usually rest at home or go to the gym to maintain a regular exercise routine.
What advice would you give to current students and alumni who similarly aspire to become CEOs? There is no specific advice I would give to students who want to become CEOs. The only thing I can think of is that they should love what they do and second, if they feel strongly enough about something, they should definitely give themselves the chance and the time to make their own empire. Success is better when other people want you to succeed.
Have you faced many difficulties as a CEO? I have faced a lot of difficulties during my days as a CEO. The most notable difficulty I constantly face is trying to inspire others to concentrate on the goal that I share. The team, including me, sometimes gradually lose interest when things do not go as planned. If you start losing interest, you lose people. You lose people, you lose your power. If you lose your power then you usually fail. This is what happens in many startups around the world but this is also the challenge with our goal at AMEN and We4All.
Why did you choose to study at Queen Mary? What do you think is unique about Queen Mary compared to other universities?Queen Mary University of London was my first choice as the International Relations and Politics Department is one of the best ranking in the UK and especially in London. I chose to study and complete my MA degree at Queen Mary specifically as I saw that there is diversity, not only for people but for ideas too, an excellent studies program and hard-working professors.
Can you give an example of an idea that you formed whilst studying at Queen Mary? In Greece it is difficult to understand diversity and to make people accept other people or other peoples’ ideas. It is not that the people are not used to talking about and discussing different ideas, but the economic crisis of 2010 made people in Greece less receptive to other people and their ideas. Studying at Queen Mary helped me shape my ideas of a more liberal state that takes care of its people and that is not absorbed in the old ideologies that have lead the world to wars or disputes.
How did your time and study at Queen Mary help your career and development? Queen Mary obviously helped me a lot in studying for my degree. What is further important about Queen Mary is that it also helps you discover new opportunities and take a deeper look at a great variety of jobs that I, personally, could never have imagined were possible in my hometown. Not only my studies, but also the entrepreneurial environment at Queen Mary, gave me the opportunity and motivation to begin my own companies. The ways of thinking and writing my small and final essays whilst at university made me better equipped to present “my products” at a professional level now. I would like to thank my professors for that.
Do you remember the names of any of your professors in particular? Many professors at Queen Mary had an impact on my academic journey but two professors stand out in particular. Professor Kimberly Hutchings, my professor for International Relations, helped me to develop a broad knowledge about my favourite subject and Professor Ray Kiely helped to show me and my fellow students that the world is not only Europe. These two professors combined gave me the opportunity to study more, to search for answers and to think in a new way: globally instead of locally.
Is there any advice you would give to current students or recent graduates considering their career options? There is actually something I would like to tell current students and recent graduates considering their career options. NEVER listen to what others want for you. Try to mix your passion with your capabilities in order to study a subject that will give you joy and, when you begin to work, the idea of quitting or giving up will never cross your mind.
Why is it exciting to do what you do? Working at AMEN Technologies gives me the opportunity to always be updated about technological stuff and innovations. Working at Vodafone Greece gives me the opportunity to work on my PR skills and Community Coordination at the Digital Department. Finally, working at We4All allows me to work on one of my passions: the environment. If you take all of this into consideration, I do not see the above as work, but as a hobby instead.
What was so special about your time at Queen Mary? Can you give one or two examples of your most memorable moments? I have many memories from my time at Queen Mary. The most important are the following: My first memorable moments are the gatherings with my friends either on campus or outside in London pubs or clubs. I really enjoyed their company (hopefully they enjoyed mine too) and I really would like to set up a reunion someday. A second memorable moment was graduation; as I walked down the small corridors on campus, I had all these great moments from my time at Queen Mary passing through my mind and I smiled. This really is the essence of a great institute and the goal for every student to achieve by the time they graduate.
Do you have any role models that you look up to, both inside and outside of your field? I have and I have the opinion that everyone has to believe in someone that gives them motivation in whatever they do. Mine is Kianu Reeves. I chose him as my role model as he is a really talented actor and he could have so easily adopted a rich ‘celebrity’ way of living. On the contrary, he is a simple man, removed from the scandalous life of Hollywood, who participates and donates money to organisations for people in need or on behalf of the environment.