Maria Gratsia, CEO of Kleopas Alliott Business Consultants, was interviewed for e-magazine “Women in Digital Magazine” and spoke about her role and her plans for the strategic direction of the firm in challenging times.
- What does it mean for a highly experienced woman, as yourself, to be responsible for the overall operation and strategy for the promotion and the business development for Kleopas Alliott Business Consultants?In a male-dominated area, holding a high-level position offers great satisfaction and reward for a woman. Although the job description comes with many responsibilities, the feelings of giving back, creation and recognition overcompensates those of pressure and accountability that usually describe such positions. The most important factor for me is the mutual respect between the employees of a company, therefore having achieved this, the work produced can be seen as a result of collective effort, without gender divisions.
- What is your renewed commitment and goals from this new position?Under our new strategic plan, we aim to transition Kleopas Alliott from the pursuit of market shares to a new approach where securing the greatest possible value from our services is key. Our new strategy is based on three pillars: a) recovery in the coming years, aiming to strengthen financial results, b) renewal of our services deck to include a refreshed and modern range of products aiming to enhance our customer base, and c) revolution brought by the transformation of the business model through technology and online services. Our goal is to make Kleopas Alliott a pioneer in creating value in the new metaverse era by enriching the range of our services and business solutions, as well as further solidifying customer trust.
- What are the biggest obstacles a woman faces in such a demanding space and how do you see the digital transformation and digital skills of women versus their male counterparts?In general, the percentage of women in high level positions is unsatisfactory, with their development prospects being limited. Various studies show that among the biggest obstacles for a woman in a demanding business environment are family responsibilities, gender bias, lack of support from colleagues and the pay gap compared to men. On top of that, it is worth mentioning that objections from within the family are often another significant obstacle for modern women’s growth.Regarding digital transformation, I cannot say that its development is connected to gender. It requires the correct knowledge and skills from people who have innovative ideas and a disposition for growth and creation. Our society has wrongly established stereotypes about technology already from our youth. And this is the reason why in most technology related faculties, the percentage of male students far exceeds that of women. However, there are countless women who excel in the digital sector, having all the necessary digital skills to grow and succeed at a professional level. Growth in every field lies in our hands and nowadays there are numerous resources to achieve greater depth and enhance one’s digital skills. People who wish to do so, are given the opportunity to enrich their knowledge and achieve their goals, demonstrating skills in this field regardless of their gender.
- How does technology affect businesses, especially in the post-Covid era?The evolution and contribution of technology, especially in the post-covid era, is unparalleled. As we see every day, but also as a result of various recent studies, through technology, businesses are seamlessly connected to people’s daily lives. Digital growth gives them the opportunity to not only create innovative and pioneering products and services, but also transform the way people live and work. Thus, digital transformation is unique, as it is the first time that people do not just use products and services, but simultaneously can provide information and access to them.
- Is there anything you would like to see changing in Technology and Finance?Greater encouragement of women, already from school age, to engage in all professional fields without discrimination, is essential. In addition, it is important for companies to start offering women more opportunities in higher level positions, for gender balancing reasons. Re the family related stress, including the important part of motherhood, companies could offer flexible working positions, tailored to each woman’s needs, leveraging to the maximum on the provisions of labor laws. Believing in women’s drive and skills will gradually eliminate social stereotypes, allowing room for the professional – and not only – environment to take the presence and contribution of women in social and professional growth more seriously.
- Is business and finance an “inclusive” environment for women? Do many women work in Finance / Accounting and to what extent, in your opinion, are they represented in senior management positions?The number of women working in the field of Finance / Accounting is quite large. Although the salaries they receive are not equal to their male counterparts and there are not the same opportunities for promotions, many women manage to have managerial positions in various companies, both in Europe and beyond. The gender stereotypes that Greek society continues to perpetuate make it challenging for many women to progress in their careers and professions, but this tends to change in recent years. With a view to the wholesome growth and prosperity of businesses and societies themselves, we need to encourage mutual respect and understanding, as well as acceptance and harmonious cooperation between the two sexes.