George Constantopoulos is a global expert and an early pioneer in IT. He is an insightful Global Thinkers Mentor too and a staunch advocate of diversity and gender equality.
Q: George, what was your journey like to get where you are?
A: Very exciting and bumpy at the same time. The excitement comes from meeting so many people with diverse personalities and different interests that allows one to observe, get involved, learn and hopefully give back. The bumpiness comes from the realisation that each ride is unpredictable and hence doesn’t follow a planned and charted path. Looking up to my heroes was a major source of inspiration to reach my dreams no matter how hopeless or how far.
Q: Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career!
A: I suppose all the elements involved in building my own software business from scratch. The desire, passion, determination, commitment and persistence to move forward and grasp the dream that only you believe in. Learning fast from mistakes, setting high goals, taking risks, having a great vision and purpose, developing a strategy, the sheer pleasure of growing, expanding and developing, while remaining authentic as you discover the self-satisfaction of success. The entire experience was about working with people around the globe.
Q: What are the formative decisions and experiences that influenced who you are as a person?
A: My parents are to thank for my upbringing. As a bilingual, I was given the opportunity to develop my thinking and my character that were impacted by two different cultures. The exposure I had to different geographies and simple people helped me learn to respect and blend with all people and races and to adapt to circumstances and situations by taking a step back to understand and absorb the commonalities and the unique differences.
"Gifted thought leaders help to inspire and develop more leaders in our societies"
Q: Talk to me about your mentoring experience as Mentor with Global Thinkers Mentors.
A: First of all, I’d like to express my gratitude for being given the opportunity to engage in the Global Thinkers Mentoring Programme. It’s a privilege to participate and contribute, allowing me to release the huge respect I have for women entrepreneurs. I have been paired with a passionate young entrepreneur who wants to change the world and it doesn’t get better than that.
Q: You are mentoring a young woman. Do you feel you have learned something from her?
A: Every session I have with my mentee is a learning experience for me. Emotions run deep in relation to the motivations that drive a young entrepreneur to leave her homeland to educate and discover herself so she can develop a purpose with meaning. It’s an amazing journey that slowly reveals how she is connecting all the dots.
Q: What are the qualities that define a successful business leader?
A: Walking the talk and leading the way. It's not just about execution, but mostly about building the culture and strength of character. Additionally, emotional intelligence and compassion play such an important role in determining success for business leaders. That explains why some ‘average’ people are incredibly successful, while ‘geniuses’ sometimes fail to live up to their promises.
Q: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to a young aspiring entrepreneur?
A: Set high goals, have great self-talk, hold yourself accountable, and have fun!
Further to that, I would add entrepreneurial alertness: the ability to recognize competitive imperfection in a marketplace is a key attribute of successful entrepreneurs. They have a certain sensibility that strengthens their ability to identify gaps and opportunities.
Q: Think of a recent story that made headlines, and really impressed or even shocked you. Tell us more about it?
A: “Why Machine Learning And AI Are The Future For Business” – How we define "sales" and other customer touching roles will evolve in ways we have not yet imagined as automation, Internet of Things (IoT) and cognitive technologies like artificial intelligence mature. From conducting numerous customer journeys and co-creation sessions, I consistently hear about the importance of human-to-human relationships. Interestingly, what I'm finding across various B2B clients is that more automation drives an increased customer desire for meaningful, value-based personal relationships. In the IoT economy, more people will be touching the customer, not less. To orchestrate meaningful conversations, business interactions must be proficient in a new core skill - Emotional Intelligence. The ability to understand people and build relationships is more important than how smart they are. In the end, only two things matter: trust and value-add beyond the product.
Q: It seems that trust and confidence are waning in our societies and its thought leaders. What is your view?
A: Values are losing their real meaning and genuine thought leaders are becoming fewer. Societies are dealing with more complexities and human interactions are developing wider gaps. However, despite being disappointed from many of today’s global figures, there is also a huge amount of potential as we discover new personalities that are eager to earn our trust and build new levels of confidence. Gifted thought leaders help to inspire and develop more leaders in our societies.
Q: What is a major challenge for our world?
A: Gender equality. Gender disparities remain in economic and political realms. While there has been some progress over the decades, on average women still earn 24 percent less than men globally. As of August 2015, only 22% of all national parliamentarians were female, a slow rise from 11.3% in 1995.Today, we still only see women in 27% of Vice President, 23% of Senior Vice President and 17% of CEO positions.
Senior Partner, SWC
An early pioneer in the south-eastern Mediterranean Tech &IT industry, George founded Byte Computer, a business IT solutions provider with a reputation for designing and delivering complex projects in markets of diverse cultures.He forged exclusive value-added partnerships and strategic alliances with global vendors, namely IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, Google, Cisco, and HP, thereby gaining a competitive advantage and creating a launch pad for multi-million contracts.
Based on this success, George was recruited by IBM as regional country manager to develop the market and secure a leadership position for the software group.
At SWC (South Western Consulting™), George brings 30 years of experience developing consultative sales cultures. Having worked with organisations like Google, Expedia, Oracle, Rackspace, Sungard, Exponential-e, T-Systems, to design and implement sales transformation programmes, George continues to engage with dynamic executives and entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their business and improve performance.