NEW YORK – The Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented Andreas C. Kramvis, the Vice Chairman of industrial giant Honeywell, with its Distinguished Merit Award at the New York Hilton on May 1.
The event has the dual purpose of celebrating the achievements of the community’s members and demonstrating solidarity with Cyprus.
Nicholas Karakostas, president of the Chamber, invited Board members to the stage for the presentation of the award, a sculpture which combines the Statue of Liberty’s torch representing America’s free enterprise system which fosters Cypriot-American success, and the bow of the famed “Kyrenia ship” that stands for the struggles of the people of Cyprus.
The guests appreciated Karakostas’ promise to “dispense with long speeches” and keep to a crisp business format.
In his brief remarks he highlighted the Chamber’s function and its commitment to strengthening economic relations between Greece and Cyprus, and to assist the latter transcend its crisis through initiatives like exchange programs for young people.
He sounded an optimistic note, saying “Cyprus is on the way to recovery by implementing tough reforms and structural changes… and I don’t have to tell you about tourism – Cyprus is one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
Karakostas, introduced Dr. John Televantos, an inventor and industrialist who spoke about his friendship with Kramvis that dates back 50 years to their high school days.
Kramvis struck a humble tone after he thanked the Chamber, whom he said surprised him. “I said, really couldn’t you find anyone better?”
Those who know him, especially the senior management of Honeywell who also came to honor him, would have cited his character and achievements to back up a resounding “No!”
He thanked the guests not just for coming to honor him “but in support of the Chamber and the work it does…it’s supporting a lot of business incubation in Cyprus which is very essential.”
“CAN DO” PEOPLE
Having discussed his remarks in advance with friends, Kramvis focused on their questions, such as “what do America and Cyprus have in common?” His answer was to note that they are filled with “can do people…who say, lets’ do better – that is very important.”
He expressed admiration for his friends who have created dynamic international companies “a great achievement a country with no internal market…they had to get on a plane to sell their products.”
After noting the challenges face though the millennia by a small country “at the mercy of the guy with the longest spear and the biggest gun” at the crossroads of East and West, and which must send its best and brightest abroad, he expressed gratitude to his parents for emphasizing the importance of getting an education, which led to scholarship to the UK “that changed my life.”
He expressed deep gratitude for the generosity of the man who funded “that single scholarship,” and thanked his Honeywell colleagues – “I could not have accomplished anything without you.”
Then turning to his wife, he thanked her for “a great affair that is still going on after 42 years,” and noted “she gave up a successful career as a fund manager to be the glue in our family,” by raising their children Christopher, Nicholas and Katherine.
Televantos chose to begin his introduction of the honoree by highlighting his love of Cyprus, saving that Kramvis “has introduced Haloumi cheese” – a sample of which was included in the guest’s gifts bags “to most Honeywell functions.”
After admiring Kramvis’ athletic ability- “Even today, if he invites you for a friendly game of tennis….turn him down” – he marveled at his business acumen.
“Like great generals, he leads from the front, and has an uncanny ability to get to the roots of a problem or an opportunity…and to transform businesses…through creative thinking, rigorous prioritization and intense execution.”
At the conclusion of the event, Karakostas thanked the sponsors and Cyprus Trade Commissioner Aristos Constantine. He then invited Despina Axiotakis, the Chamber’s Executive Director, to the stage. “I have been coming here for year and no one ever gave Despina flowers and as president, I know and appreciate how hard you work,” as he presented her with a bouquet.