Maria Prevezanou: Staying Ahead of the Game in a Man’s World

Maria Prevezanou is the principal of Evmar Marine Services Ltd, an independent brokering company specializing in marine insurance products such as P&I, H&M, War.

It is a well-established company with offices in Piraeus that has insured more than 650 vessels and has a substantial client list of prominent shipowners, including some of the most influential Greek names in shipping.

Prevezanou has also been treasurer on the Board of Directors of the Piraeus Marine Club since 1996.

On behalf of the Board of the PMC she has been responsible for organizing for the last 18 consecutive years the annual P&I Seminar, which is one of the most significant events at the PMC.

It aims to keep people in the shipping industry up to date with developments in insurance matters. Over the years the P&I Seminars have become an institution of the PMC with P&I clubs, shipowners, and other shipping professionals all looking forward to the event.

The National Herald: How do you define success?

Maria Prevezanou: Success neither comes overnight, nor does it have any shortcuts. I had to work very hard to earn the respect and acceptance of my business associates and clients. I believe that the daily challenges, as well as the excellent personal relationships I have built over the years, are crucial to my success. Being spontaneous and intuitive also led to my accomplishments.

I have always said that I did not plan my career carefully. I was, however, captivated by shipping, and was ambitious and hard-working from the onset.

I never said no to things I was secretly scared to do. I have not been afraid to make mistakes or ask even the most obvious of questions.

For some people, success is pure luck, but in my book ‘luck’ is an acronym with four letters:

L for Love

U for Uniqueness

C for Courage

K for Knowledge

Fortune favors the brave, and one must test his or her limits by working with people who’ll challenge your powers. This way, you’ll learn more in a year than four years of college.

TNH: How does a woman manage to succeed?

MP: The male-dominated world of shipping presents significant challenges for women. They are required to continuously prove they are equal or even better than their male counterparts just to stay in the game, all the while battling prejudice and misconceptions.

While a woman’s appearance may open doors, this alone never takes her very far. Personality, self-respect, and respect for others, as well as personal skills, are some of the attributes that will determine how much she can excel.

For me, to succeed, you must stay true to yourself.

You must stay in touch with your feminine nature and maintain your sensitivity.

Women are different by nature and have a different perception of the world.

They have the advantage of being calm, patient, perseverant, and are for these reasons useful in crisis management.

We should take advantage of what makes us different and not attempt to assimilate the behavior of men.

TNH: In your experience, how do men react to women who excel in their field?

MP: Some men may still underestimate the abilities of women. I remind myself of a comment attributed to Ann Richards, a former governor of Texas, who was as robust and effective a politician as any man. Think of a blonde Margaret Thatcher with even bigger hair! – without in any way compromising her femininity.

In reply to a comment about the role of women in a so-called man’s world such as politics or business, she said:

“Fred Astaire got all the attention in the movies he made with Ginger Rogers. But you know what? Ginger could do everything Fred could do on the dance floor, only backward and in high heels! That’s the difference between a man’s and a woman’s abilities!”

TNH: Men usually say that women are very emotional. Do you believe this is the case?

MP: We come from a culture where women are branded “too emotional” as though emotions are a bad thing. In my leadership journey, I have decided I will embrace my feelings because they are part of what makes me who I am. Emotions are part of being an authentic leader; we cannot be cynical about leadership and success.

TNH: Do you find that success evokes envy?

MP: Indeed it does. Successful people are disliked, although success itself is admired and desired by all. People seldom appreciate that to be on top significant sacrifices are required on a personal level.

TNH: Is success achieved once and for all in life?

MP: On the contrary, it is fluid. It is a never-ending battle, and one must work through the challenges forever, adapting, and evolving. One should never take it for granted.

We must always endeavor to set new targets and never hesitate in the face of adversity; otherwise, we are destined to fail.

Success and failure go hand-in-hand. There is always a risk of failure; however, this should not discourage us. We should endeavor to be fearless, learn from our mistakes, and rise above.

As Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind. So we must stretch ourselves to the very limits of human possibility. Anything less is a sin.”

TNH: What is the recipe for remaining successful?

MP: Four letters come to my mind: S.M.A.R.T.

S for Specific

M for Measurable

A for Attainable

R for Relevant

T for Timely

TNH: Do you have a few tips for young women wanting to succeed in this field?

MP: Yes, this list:

* Ethics

* Professionalism

* Hard Work

* Very Good Human Relationships

* Making Friends and Not Enemies

* Being Positive and Supportive of Others

* Not Talking Negatively about People Behind Their Backs

* Not Gossiping, as People Will Not Confide in You

* Being Humble

* Being Fair to Others

* Keeping an Open Mind

* Keeping Personal Information to Yourself

* Being Careful with Your Appearance

* Making Sure You Are Adaptable, So There Is Always Room For Innovation, Learning, and Sharing

* Being Optimistic

* Never Losing Your Sense of Humor

And Always Remember: People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel!

TNH: Did your environment growing up help you?

MP: Undeniably, as I do not believe you can achieve success singlehandedly. You need the support of others. Mine came from my family: my parents, my siblings Poppy and Vassilis, and later my niece Evelina who entered my life and provided inspiration.

I was also fortunate to have a dedicated team in my office who have assisted me along the way.

Over the years, I had the privilege of creating a significant network of associates and clients who have become friends and entrusted me with their business as a recognition of my hard work.

Without them by my side, I must confess I would not be here today.

TNH: Do you feel you have fully accomplished your goals?

MP: NO, there are still many targets to be set and fulfilled. If one feels there is nothing left to accomplish, the spirit breaks, arrogance takes its place, and bad news follows.

TNH: What makes life more enjoyable?

MP: Life is gratifying if family and friends surround you. They are the motivation for setting new goals, and any success is only truly of value when you can share with them the joy and satisfaction attained. The best future is happening!

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