Consequently, in order to move forward in the course of development there is only one simple—but not simplistic —solution: the human factor, people, the GREEK PEOPLE. Consequently, in order to move forward in the course of development there is only one simple—but not simplistic —solution: the human factor, people, the GREEK PEOPLE.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit in Today’s Greece

It is certainly no secret that Greece is in the middle of a deep financial crisis...
May 2011

By George Constantelis

Unfortunately, such management has become established as common practice or simply tolerated by a large part of our society. The roots of our problem run deep and many of us, directly or indirectly, share in responsibility for what we experience today. Most of us wished to “pay fewer taxes” or demanded a job in the public sector for our children; thus, instead of expecting justice, transparency, and prudent management from our politicians, we “conveniently” concluded a silent pact with them and subsequently dealt with every scandal with apathy or a blind eye. For a while, this “arrangement” seemed to work as a win-win situation. Eventually, however, it turned to a lose-lose situation.

In recent months many analysts, qualified or otherwise, have speculated on the causes of our current problems, focusing on the past and putting the blame on the “evil traits” of our national character; others approach the issue more micro-economically or micro-politically. Ironically, people who have played a key role in leading our country into the crisis appear today as expert consultants and critics of all.

There are very few people who convincingly propose ways to exit this very difficult situation: their proposals employ mainly technocratic means and methods that are based on lifeless models of uncertain efficacy. However, as the saying “over-analysis leads to paralysis” goes, the result is a general state of indecision that does not allow us to comprehend whether there is even a vision for the country.

I humbly wish to share some thoughts with you. It is my strong conviction that in order to overcome our current recession two basic prerequisites must be fulfilled: to act decisively and effectively to tackle corruption, and to adopt significant initiatives for economic development. Consequently, in order to move forward in the course of

development there is only one simple—but not simplistic —solution: the human factor, people, the GREEK PEOPLE.

The growth that Greece envisions will not come about through the successful implementation of an econometric model, a product or a service, but through utilization of human capital and resources. From the times of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, to this day, regardless of the inevitable shifts in their culture and mentality, the Greek people are an entity with immense potential.

Having lived abroad for many years and having held a number of high executive positions, I have concluded -and this is a conclusion shared by many- that the greatest advantage of the Greek character is its inherent ability to think “outside the box.” Indeed, when this ability is combined with hard work, agility of mind, and a sense of urgency—natural to most Greeks—it is certain that he or she will achieve great accomplishments.

The big question is when this will happen?

The answer is when the right conditions prevail: conditions that encourage resourcefulness and pioneering, that reward innovation and quality and promote meritocracy. It is no accident that Greeks who have lived abroad have been successful in all these areas. This has happened because they were not “stifled” and thus were able to exhibit all their ingenuity and skills, as the state was an ally to their efforts and not an enemy; because to a large extent transparency and meritocracy were established methods and procedures. In sharp contrast, for a very long time in Greece the common—and often the only—way of doing business was through “connections,” personal channels, and bribing.

However, we must be careful and self-disciplined because our national DNA contains both ends of the spectrum; it is absolute: all these positive characteristics can quickly and dramatically turn to negative. !e same people who sang the praises of Socrates gave him the poison; the same people who were liberated from the Ottomans by Kolokotronis sentenced him to a prison term; after fighting against the Nazis and fascists during World War II, we, Greeks, started a divisive and catastrophic civil war. Let us not forget that the phrase “A patron hath no surer foes, than those who, helped, no thanks bestow” («Ουδείς ασφαλέστερος εχθρός του ευεργετηθέντος αχαρίστου), was introduced by Heraclitus.

The Greek mind has proved over time that it can excel in every entrepreneurial endeavor, as long as it combines the following elements, which it has shown to possess throughout history: the ability to see “the big picture,” to understand the environment in which it lives and operates; to translate the “big picture” into a comprehensive and inspiring vision the insight for business opportunities, market needs and the creation of strategic plans; the ability to successfully raise funds for business projects as well as staff the endeavor with people who are ready to take on calculated risk; and, finally the persistence to faithfully implement the business plan.

On this basis we have created GeoVent Corporation – Group of Companies, a group of Greek American private capital with diverse activities/diverse portfolio. !e Group’s main goal is to develop collaborations and alliances for innovative products for pharmaceutical and biotech companies that are not represented in Greece and Cyprus. For this purpose, the Group has created three pharmaceutical companies: Newron, that focuses on pharmaceuticals dealing with the Central Nervous System, medPLATINUM, that focuses on oncology and Haematology, and metCardis, that focuses on Cardiology and Pulmonology. In the "eld of health services, the Group also includes CRAxis CRO, a company that conducts Clinical Studies and Consulting Services in Research related topics. Lastly, the Group founded TASIS, a Human Resources Consulting Services company for the pharmaceutical industry as well as for other professional fields.

Our vision is to become a trusted partner for our clients and all stakeholders in this constantly changing business environment.

We pride ourselves in being a Greek company that follows international standards in every process, and every aspect of its operation. Our professionalism is guaranteed by our staff who have vast experience and know-how having worked in top multinational corporations.

I cannot emphasize enough that we consider the Human Factor the cornerstone of the Group’s success. Our "rst concern was to select the people we wanted to work with and then we decided on the creation of the companies, something unique for Greek standards. !e professional experience, the efficiency and the overall business acumen of each managing director determined the business model and the way in which each of the companies was set-up.

Our common denominator and our driving force is our faith in the notions of integrity and collaboration as well as our passion for business that influence all our activities. Our shared goal is to put out products and services that are innovative and of the highest quality. To reiterate, the Greek is able to achieve great achievements once he or she is inspired. I am certain that our genes have remained unaltered from antiquity to the present, and it will help us persevere through these critical times. I am convinced that our positive attributes will resurface, once the right conditions are created. I am an eternal optimist, despite the many difficulties that my colleagues and I have encountered since working in Greece—difficulties that are mainly due to the bureaucratic maze of our public administration. For example, even though our new offices are located on one of the busiest commercial avenues, it still took weeks to set up a business phone line. Which foreign investor would put up with this?

Ultimately, we focus on the positive, we fully trust the great potential that the Greeks have and, never losing sight of our vision, we anticipate the success of our endeavor, thus contributing to our country’s much desired economic growth.