What inspired you to choose your profession?
At University I read Engineering and my first job was in the financial sector with a (then) newly established hedge fund. At the time, I was doing a fair amount of programming and my job exposed me to the financial sector.
Thus prepared, I warmed up to the financial sector and decided to embark on an accounting qualification. The rest is history.
Are there any future goals you have set for yourself?
Yes, there are indeed… but how much I can tell you about this is a matter of judgment… (!)
In principle, I have a natural preference for making long-term plans and work towards a goal of stability. By the same token, I bear in mind the core traditions I was brought up with and keep that in perspective.
It is undue for us all to forget that we are temporary custodians of our persons and riches and need, through the intricate windings of a lifetime, to embrace the opportunities that we may be confronted with even when they are least expected.
Can you tell us a bit about the Jimmy Mizen Foundation charity where you are treasurer? Are you also active in other charitable organizations?
The Charity was established some years ago by the family of Jimmy Mizen, a young lad in southeast London who lost his life to knife crime. Incidentally, he was at the same age as many students now at PIERCE.
Combatting their immense grief and supported by their faith, the family formed the Jimmy Mizen Foundation – the aims of which are to make young people safer.
I joined the Foundation in the voluntary capacity of treasurer and Group CFO for its subsidiary undertakings about a couple of years ago. During this time I have seen JMF grow at an eye-watering rate – a trend that has been reflected in the Treasury team that I oversee.
In its charitable goals, JMF has been making a remarkable impact on the lives of young people in Lewisham and southeast London. Partnerships with schools, apprenticeship opportunities, events, lectures are among the multitude of activities that the Foundation engages in. My job is to make sure that resources are carefully and adequately applied that this good work may continue in perpetuity.
Beyond JMF, my charitable activities are thinly spread across various clubs and societies.
Please tell us what being a Liveryman entails and how you got into it?
In medieval times and perhaps before, as the City of London was growing and England was becoming established as a major player on the European scene, associations of tradesmen were formed to regulate the standards of trading and to administer the necessary qualifications.
These organizations, known as Livery Companies, survive to this day, largely in a charitable and social capacity. The term is derived from the fact that a fully-qualified member of such an association is “clothed” with the livery of the same, ie a gown sporting the distinct colors and design that would make that individual promptly identifiable as such. Today, members do not necessarily bear direct links to the original trade of the Company.
The Worshipful Company of Scriveners, which I am a member of, was founded in the 14th century, in order to look after the notarial profession. The notarial qualification is still administered by the Company.
A Liveryman (or Freeman – ie free to trade in the City, own property, etc) can “bind” apprentices, who, after serving a term of five years, are then made “free” by their “master”. One can imagine back in those days, a young lad joining the trade of his master and then moving on as a gentleman to set up on his own. Far though from being a male-dominated environment, as there had been female scriveners from quite early on!
These “indentures” setting up the bond between master and apprentice are this day mainly of a ceremonial nature. Nevertheless, my apprentice was somewhat disappointed that he could no longer “haunt public houses” and would have to ask my permission to marry during his apprenticeship, as I was quite surprised to find out that I had a duty upon me to make sure that he was well fed whilst in service!
What are three enduring lessons you learned during your studies at PIERCE?
1. To serve rather than be served.
2. Be kind to others.
3. One is more likely to find answers if they search for them.
Describe PIERCE in three words.
Inspirational, professional, dynamic.
What do you miss most from your days at PIERCE and what was your favorite spot on campus?
I miss the swimming pool. My favorite spot was the computer lab – back then it was a quiet and refreshing area. Not sure if I would say the same now!
Who was your favorite professor at PIERCE and why?
Mr Efstathiou. He had plenty of interesting stories to tell from his own life and experience.
Have you kept in touch with any of your classmates?
Very few – mainly because I no longer live in Greece.
How did PIERCE help prepare you for your professional life?
It inspired me to maintain good levels of stamina.
What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Just because you can do it, it does not mean that you should do it!
What (or who) inspires you most?
Queen Elizabeth I. Her ability to rule and be loved by her people has always been an example to look up to.
What is your motto in life?
If you‘re going through Hell, keep going (Sir Winston Churchill).
What would you advise PIERCE students as they seek to carve their own niche in the world? Should they stay in Greece or seek opportunities abroad during the economic crisis?
In brief, I would advise them to “stand fast!”
The choice of location in this instance is part of a bigger picture in that whilst one may have to carve their own niche, it is likewise essential to render oneself fit for the exquisite edifice of society. And as the stone that was rejected by the builders possessing merits to them unknown then became the keystone of the building, they should not fail to recognize those talents given to them that they may put to good use.
As in every case when the very foundation upon which we grow the essence of our existence trembles and shutters, would one forget the inevitable pain of birth by which they enter into that very existence or the phoenix that rises from its ashes?
Let them remember the principles of natural equality and mutual dependence that they may steer the barque of their life over the rough seas of passion together in unity and entertain no greed beyond gain.
Patience and industry are virtues that can hardly ever be observed in excess, whilst passions can at times prove useful servants but always make horrible masters.
Dimitrios Alafouzos was born to an old Santorinian family in Athens, Greece and graduated from PIERCE in 1997. Following a gap year during which he worked for a local publishing firm, he went on to read Engineering at Cambridge, graduating with a MEng in 2002. He then joined a dynamic hedge fund and subsequently moved to Barclays Capital, where he qualified as a Chartered Certified Accountant. Next, he worked for Bank of America Merrill Lynch and is currently with Credit Suisse, working as a Product Controller in London.
Committed to the traditions and values of the City of London, Dimitrios Alafouzos is a Liveryman in the Worshipful Company of Scriveners and, in a voluntary capacity, runs the treasury of the Jimmy Mizen Foundation, a young charity based in Lewisham. He is also the owner of a small firm that lets a small property portfolio in Greater London and East Anglia.