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Guest Viewpoints

A Tribute to Dr. Evangelos Spanos, Healthcare Pioneer in Greece

July 12, 2020
By George Karagiannis

Dr. Evangelos (Vangelis) Spanos passed away on April 18th 2020 due to COVID-19 related complications in Athens, Greece. He was a man who enjoyed spirited conversations and exalted his life’s work with singular focus and uncompromising principles. He was the pioneering founder and owner of the Bioatriki Group of Health Care Companies, whose legend as a visionary and great entrepreneur will long survive his memory.  Dr. Spanos leaves behind his wife, Andromache and their two children, George and Dimi.

I met Dr Spanos back in June 2009 when he asked me to leave my post in the UK and return to Greece whereupon I would work under his tutelage for his now groundbreaking company. After many months of exhausted talks our roads finally converged in January 2010.  I worked with him for slightly more than two and a half years and in that time our achievements were as vast as they were profitable. The proof was in the pudding, as the old idiom suggests, but it didn’t come without difficulties as he and I both possessed stubborn tendencies and even worse temperament on occasion. Perhaps it was because of this, or that we shared similar personality traits that we mutually decided to part ways at the end of July 2012.  Regretfully, as fate would have it, it proved to be our last encounter. However, I always considered him as my spiritual father in the Greek business world. Somehow, I now feel a great sense of emptiness and a need to share some of my thoughts about him with the outside world.

My own Vangelis Spanos loved constructive discussions. We had countless hours of business meetings and talks over great food and wine. In retrospect, it feels now that it was overindulgence, but it was an exercise in intellectual warfare that I will forever cherish and presumably recommence in my next lifetime. It was during those moments of spontaneous discussion that we shared a great many personal sentiments and stories. There was a civility and a humble timbre in his voice that will stay with me forever. He was a great listener, as all great leaders tend to be, always willing to give me a chance to express myself even if our opinions differed. But he always took a step back and supported my decisions. And he was happy for me when I proved to be right and him wrong.

He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. I remember him calling me by my first name in our personal meetings but never in front of others. He also praised my achievements – but never in private, only in public. He was always fair and honest in favour of calculated risks involving the maximum outcome. One might see this as a form of conservatism. But to me that was wisdom, always thinking about the future of his company in a bankrupt country.

He was a firm believer of giving people whom he trusted the opportunity to prove themselves – especially those who came out of nowhere in a country which was always in favour of mediocrity and clientelism. He trusted me on many occasions. I will never forget his personal advice when he asked me to travel in the war wounded Libya in 2012 for a very important business affair. And I travelled there because I felt doing that for him.

He was also a very tough man, but self-made people are. I guess this is because of his very hard childhood years. Up to a point, I got tired of listening so many times to how hard his early childhood years were. But now I know he kept telling that to me to show me the means to keep fighting for a cause and the better days to come.

I could keep writing many things about him. But the emotional burden is unbearable. He will always be remembered. Rest in peace Dr. Spanos.

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