Celebrating International Women's Day: Personal Stories #3

“As a child, all I ever dreamt of was spreading my wings and flying away from the little village where I was born and raised near Metsovo,” said Vassilis Stavrou, Brand President of Alfa Beta Vassilopoulos. “I felt like I didn’t belong there. I felt different. Basically, my way of thinking and behavior were at odds with that of the local community, and as I grew up, I wanted to find my true place where I could be my authentic self.”

“I was always particularly close to my mother, a very strong woman. It was more than the average mother-son bond. We developed a special relationship, perhaps also due to family circumstances. I am the older of two siblings, so my mother could lean on me from early on. When I was young, I fought a lot of battles not only along with my mother but also for her sake. She used to say, ‘We’ll fight for everything together,’ and we did.... And today that motto, ‘Never give up!’ has become a life motto to me.”

Looking back over his career years, Vassilis recalls working with many dynamic women from all over the world. “I fully appreciate, respect and recognize women’s skills and abilities and the unique role that they can play in a team both inside and outside the workplace.”

At the same time, he recognizes women can face challenges, one of which is related to motherhood. “Effectively, when a woman becomes a mother, this entails a break in her career, which may put her in a quandary. It is our role as a company to address this dilemma by creating an everyday working environment where everyone can find meaning and purpose, a working environment that supports a balanced life and balanced teams.” He makes the point that 63.39% of the brand’s associates are women. “While there is still room for improvement as regards the number of women we have in higher positions, I would personally like to see more women in senior leadership positions. And I firmly believe that we will achieve this!”

Vassilis says that gender is purely a product of nature, nothing more, nothing less. “Our focus is on people, their skills and character. We see a person as a person - not as a man or a woman.”

He believes we all have an inner need for continuous self-improvement, a continual search for the best. “And this continual search for the best for everybody is a path that needs many people! We all have a role and responsibility.”

Vassilis says that he lets Alfa Beta’s DNA guide him towards the goals they have set on diversity and integration. “We aim to be a better place to shop with full respect for all: from the mother choosing the best for her family and the millennials who want to purposefully connect with the brands, to people with disabilities who are entitled to equal treatment when doing their daily shopping. We aspire to be a better neighbor and stand by the local communities in which we operate. We aim to be a better place to work, for everyone, with equal opportunities and focusing on ‘togetherness.’”

“In short, it is in Alfa Beta’s DNA to stand out for its diversity. Our DNA is characterized by creativity, innovation and open-mindedness, all of which can only be developed through balanced teams, balanced people and balanced lives.”

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