Greek busi­ness­woman named Man­ager of the Year 2014

Owner of Ger­man-based ENCOS awarded by TUV Nord for her out­stand­ing ca­reer

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY KA­TE­RINA KAPERNARAKOU

She has been in the van­guard of the Ger­man business world for sev­eral years now and is a par­a­digm for the Greek di­as­pora. Dr Vir­ginia Green (nee Vir­ginia Gio­vanoudi), founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of ENCOS, was named Man­ager of the Year for 2014 by TUV Nord, a group of multi­na­tion­als with 10,000 work­ers in 70 coun­tries which pro­vides se­cu­rity and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion ser­vices.

Green em­i­grated to Ger­many from the north­ern Greek bor­der town of Didy­mote­i­cho at the age of 18 and stud­ied chem­i­cal tech­nol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Dort­mund. She took her first pro­fes­sional steps at the Esso pe­tro­leum company be­fore em­bark­ing on a PhD while a mother of two. After years of work­ing as a topflight ex­ec­u­tive at var­i­ous firms, Green de­cided to go it alone.

She founded Green En­gi­neer­ing in 1990, a company that car­ried out tech­ni­cal stud­ies for chem­i­cal, petro­chem­i­cal and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal firms, and in 2000 cre­ated ENCOS (En­gi­neer­ing Con­struc­tions Ser­vice), a con­sor­tium be­tween Green En­gi­neer­ing and Kohling & Part­ner. ENCOS spe­cial­izes in the de­sign and con­struc­tion of fac­to­ries and fa­cil­i­ties for the chem­i­cals in­dus­try and is con­sid­ered among the best in its field world­wide thanks to its com­mitt­ment to health and safety stan­dards.

Based in Ham­burg, ENCOS has branches in Frankfurt, Greif­swald and Thes­sa­loniki, as well as a smaller of­fice in Athens. It has more than 150 em­ploy­ees of var­i­ous na­tion­al­i­ties, 25 of whom are Greek. Green has noth­ing but praise for her com­pa­tri­ots.

“They are ex­cel­lent sci­en­tists, flex­i­ble, smart and hard­work­ing – they are in no way be­neath other Euro- peans, some­thing that I in­sisted on stress­ing to the Ger­mans even be­fore the cri­sis,” the award-win­ning busi­ness­woman told Deutsche Welle.

In her in­ter­view with the Ger­man pa­per, Green ad­vised young Greeks not to leave the coun­try be­cause this seems the eas­i­est so­lu­tion, telling them in­stead to fight their sense of pes­simism, to take risks, to cre­ate new busi­nesses and to be in­no­va­tive in the sciences. The en­tre­pre­neur stresses the ben­e­fits of or­ganic farm- ing, say­ing that it does not re­quire a large in­dus­trial base or large cap­i­tal to get started.

Green is not one to blow her own trum­pet, but the Ger­man business com­mu­nity has not been in­dif­fer­ent to her achieve­ments over the course of her ca­reer. She has served for sev­eral years on the gen­eral coun­cil of the pow­er­ful Ham­burg Cham­ber of Com­merce as well as on its com­mit­tee for new tech­nolo­gies. She is also a mem­ber of the Ger­man Hel­lenic Business As­so­ci­a­tion.

All about hard work

Hard work is the key to achiev­ing suc­cess, stresses Green.

“Whether you are a man or a woman, in the pro­fes­sional sec­tor what counts is the work we do, what we pro­duce, and not our gen­der or ap­pear­ance,” the head of ENCOS told Deutsche Welle. “As women we rarely seek high-pro­file po­si­tions be­cause we tend to avoid the lime­light. We also need to start do­ing the things that men do, like net­work­ing with other sec­tors. Women do a lot of this in their pri­vate lives but we need to de­velop it more in our pro­fes­sional lives.”

Nu­mer­ous in­ter­na­tional stud­ies have in fact shown that com­pa­nies with boards that have an equal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of men and women tend to do bet­ter, as do their stocks. Asked by Kathimerini about what spe­cial qual­i­ties women can bring to business, Green said: “Women do not lack any skills when it comes to business and this is proven by their con­stantly in­creas­ing pres­ence in the business arena. I would also ven­ture to add that we also have the ad­van­tage of a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of prob­lems and of the par­tic­u­lar­i­ties of our as­so­ciates by our very na­ture. Fur­ther­more, as a rule, women man­age op­er­at­ing costs in a more fru­gal man­ner and they gen­er­ally avoid show­ing off.”

Ir­re­spec­tive of gen­der, what makes a suc­cess­ful business per­son and how does he or she re­spond to chal­lenges, be they of a per­sonal or pro­fes­sional na­ture?

“You must be will­ing to take risks and not to be­come com­pla­cent like an em­ployee who is only con­cerned with the next pay­check,” said Green. “You have to keep a clear head and be calm and col­lected, avoid­ing pas­sion­ate re­ac­tions to the ups and downs of business but also to the up­sets of life more gen­er­ally. You need to have a good knowl­edge of the mar­ket in which you’re in­ter­ested to keep abreast of de­vel­op­ments. You have to be strict and in con­trol, but also ob­jec­tive and open to rec­og­niz­ing the qual­i­ties of your as­so­ciates as much as those of your com­peti­tors.”

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