Alexia Vasdeki is a model for self-reliance. In today’s economy where youth unemployment is over 50%, she had no trouble in finding a job and, to top it all, she loves it! She is just back from Vietnam, where she and other volunteers helped build a school.
Tell us a little about yourself
I grew up in Athens and studied at the Athens University of Economics and Business. During my studies, I was an active member of AIESEC, a global student organization, whose aim is to activate and develop the leadership potential of young people. After I finished my term in the National Committee of AIESEC in Greece, I went on their voluntary program in Brazil to teach English in a small-town school. Upon my return to Greece, I decided that I wanted to learn more about education so I completed a degree in pedagogy at my old Alma Mater. Following this, I worked on a project concerning education and social entrepreneurship and for the last year and a half I’ve been working for a company, Krataion Consulting, that is involved in consulting, project management and training. It’s something that I really enjoy because every day is a challenge and I feel I’m learning so much!
My passions are sports, traveling and volunteerism.
What were the major difficulties you’ve faced in the last five years?
I’ve been lucky, since my activities while at University gave me the means to find a job easily and to work in an environment I love. I have yet to send out a CV!
Did anyone in particular inspire you or help you?
Yes, a lot of people have inspired me. One who stands out is Spyros, the owner of the company where I work. He’s a very special person because he combines some unique characteristics. He’s intelligent, extremely ethical and cares for those around him. He’s always trying to give us opportunities to develop and evolve as human beings; something significant he’s also taught me is the importance of self-knowledge. To me this person is a real leader and this reflects on all our team since each day we look forward to going to the office to work, laugh, play (yes, we play games at the office), and eat lunch all together. When there’s real trust within a team there’s no need for timetables, each takes care of his responsibilities. And since we love what we do the results are always great.
What are your hopes/plans for the future?
My biggest dream would be to help change the educational system in Greece. When I was in Brazil I understood at first hand what is said about education being the most sustainable way to solve the greatest problems in the world. I came to really believe this, so upon my return I studied pedagogy not because I was interested in being a teacher but I wanted to find out exactly how the educational system functions both in Greece and abroad.
What are your hopes for Greece? What changes do you hope to see happen?
In truth I’m not expecting to see change coming from the state, but rather from the new generation. I’ve learnt that if I want something in life, I must not wait around but go out and get it. Of course it would be my sincere hope and a major help if at some point proper structures and procedures were put in place so that things worked smoothly. Moreover, my dream would be the creation of a good educational system which would not chop and change but instead evolve.
Have you considered leaving? If so, where would you like to go, and why?
I’m considering going abroad for a while either to do a post-graduate course or to work in a country where I could learn things that would benefit my own country upon my return. I’d really like to see the government begin to encourage young people to stay here.
Are you actively doing anything to help with the situation? Is there something you would like to do?
In my job I have the good fortune to work on projects that are meaningful. One of these, which we’re working on as a team, is a project called ReGeneration, an initiative of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Athens Hub, whose object is to combat youth unemployment in Greece but also the ‘brain drain’ which sees so many young people leave the country each year.
This is a program of paid internships which aims to help recent graduates take their first step into the work market, by offering them a 6-month paid internship in either a multinational or a smaller company, as well as a training program to help them acquire the necessary skills to take this step.
The program, which is sponsored by Coca-Cola and the The Hellenic Initiative, has been very successful so far: in 2014 we found jobs for 55 people, 80% of whom have had their contracts renewed, and in 2015 internships were found for 105 people, 70% of whom were kept on.
How do you see Greece in 5, 10 years?
I believe that in 5-10 years the situation Greece will have taken an upturn – not because the state will have made any fundamental alterations, although I sincerely wish they will, but because people will have taken the initiative to bring about the necessary changes. In my opinion the basic ingredient for this to become possible is solidarity.
How do you cope with obstacles and frustrations in your everyday life?
Truth is that I have been working a lot since I believe that frustration and anxiety can cause many problems and I have seen it happening often. Therefore, what I have been doing is working on self-knowledge in order to understand better who I am, what frustrates me and what matters most to me. It’s not always easy but I love it when there is a crisis and without getting anxious or nervous, I calmly manage it and solve it.
What are the positive sides of living in Greece? Have you had any good experiences lately?
I love living in Greece! I believe that it is, if not the only, one of the few countries which combine sun, sea, mountains, amazing weather & climate, delicious food, hard working people who at the same time are very kind and know how to have fun and enjoy life. One super simple great experience that I had lately was that after work I went by the sea and had coffee with my friends, and these are the small joys of life.