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Alumnus Profiled: John Kollas
Graduated: DEREE ‘86
Lives in: Athens, Greece
Current Position: Executive Director, Group HR – TITAN Cement
JOHN KOLLAS graduated from DEREE in 1986 with a major in CIS and also holds an MSc in Systems Analysis from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). John has been working for the TITAN Cement Group since 2003 and has been Executive Director, Group Human Resources since 2008. Throughout his 22-year career, he has gained diverse experience in HR having covered managerial positions in IT (Hewlett Packard, Compaq), banking (EFG Eurobank) and heavy industry (TITAN, BP). Beyond his professional experience in HR, John has also held positions in IT (he started his career as an analyst/programmer) and in marketing. John speaks English and French, and in his current capacity he travels extensively to the US, South Eastern Europe, Egypt and Turkey. He is Vice Chairman of the Board of the Institute of Human Resource Management of the Greek Management Association and is a member of the Insurance, Social Security and Labor Matters Committee of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce. In his spare time he recharges his batteries in the tennis courts. He is married (to Renata, DEREE‘87) and the father of two daughters: Alexia, 18, and Danai, 16.
Q.: What are three enduring lessons you learned during your studies at DEREE?
• Learning is a never-ending journey and it can be fun!
• The more effort it takes to achieve a goal, the sweeter it feels when you get there.
• If I want to be “lucky” in life, I should continuously invest on preparing myself in order to be able to grasp the opportunities as they pass by.
Q.: Describe DEREE in three words.
Inspiring, motivating, mind opening.
Q.: One of your favorite DEREE memories?
I was totally caught by surprise when Dean Theodore Lyras informed me that I would receive a symbolic scholarship from DEREE for my postgraduate studies at LSE.
Q.: What do you miss most from your days at DEREE?
The high energy levels and lively atmosphere in the “oasis” of the ACG campus.
Q.: Where was your favorite spot on campus?
Q.: Who was your favorite professor and why?
Dean Theodore Lyras – He was more than a professor; he was my mentor, inspiring me to do my best and helping me build my self-confidence and unleash my potential
Q.: Have you kept in touch with any of your classmates?
We are close friends with most of the parea that used to “occupy” the right-hand corner of the cafeteria despite the fact that we rarely have the opportunity to meet anymore. It was great to see them all during the recent re-union; it felt as if not a day has gone by despite the fact that we graduated more than a quarter of a century ago!
Q.: How did DEREE help prepare you for your professional life?
DEREE helped me develop my judgment and problem solving shills and to appreciate the value of collaboration in meeting goals. It taught me that if I work smart I can successfully meet my goals and that the more I give, the more I will get in return.
Q.: What’s the greatest piece of advice you ever received?
“It’s not what happens to us but rather how we chose to respond to what happens that matters”
Q.: What (or who) inspires you most?
My daughters are a precious source of inspiration, boosting my energy levels whenever I run dry.
Q.: Your motto in life?
Actually there are two. One from Confucius “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall” and one from Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the world”.