I’ve only ‘met’ Zaferios G Caragianades once in the pages of history.
Frances (Foteini) Karamouzis – fondly known as ‘Fran’ – is an leader in Corporate America, a philanthropist, and a proud New Yorker and Greek –with roots in the historic village of Kalavryta, Greece.
The National Herald: Tell us about your background.
Frances Karamouzis: I come from a quintessential second-generation Greek-American background, and I am always striving to be an international ethnic ‘mixologist’, which involves the blending of the two cultures in optimal combination. Both of my parents were born in the same small mountainous village in the Peloponnese region of Greece, namely Kalavryta. Kalavryta is recognized as the place of origin of the 1821 uprising of Greeks against the Ottoman empire. It was also the site of a brutal Nazi massacre. A significant feature film is scheduled for release about it titled ΚΑΛΑΒΡΥΤΑ 1943. The trailer can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcBl7yYbJ2c.
My parents were young kids (under the age of 10) when their village was ravaged by World War II fighting, and during the subsequent civil war in Greece. Significant portions of the village were burned down, and famine had dominated the area. My dad and his sister were lucky enough to be selected by the Red Cross (as part of a relief effort for some of the most impoverished families) to be given transport to America.
My dad arrived with $19 in his pocket and lots of hopes and dreams. Over time, he became a small business owner in a specialty food shop in the Hell's Kitchen area of New York City.
My mom was a seamstress, a homemaker, but above all, she was a role model of bravery, kindness, perseverance, resiliency, and lifelong learning. The incredible strength and depth of women are often not recognized and celebrated in both the United States or Greece. Thus, it’s so important to me to bring unsung heroes like my mom to the forefront.
Like many Greek immigrants of their era, my parents emphasized hard work, education, spirituality, and community as the cornerstones for growth.
As a child of the Greek diaspora in the United States, curious and determined, my experimentation included education (including language), sports, arts, music, cinema, travel, and social and work experiences.
I spent many summers in Greece as a child and young adult, enabling me to spend time with my maternal grandparents along with a tribe of over 40 first cousins.
After graduating from high school, I earned a bachelor's degree in International Business and Accounting from New York University. I went on to complete an MBA in Finance at New York University.
I am now working continuously in corporate America since 1987.
TNH: Tell us about your role at Gartner Inc. and your leadership style.
FK: Initially, I was a consultant at prestigious firm for 14 years. In my current company, I started as a research analyst publishing research and delivering lectures and conference presentations on specific technology areas (primarily software development, offshore outsourcing, hyperautomation, data & analytics, and Artificial Intelligence).
Over the 20 years at Gartner, I received several promotions to Vice President and Distinguished Analyst.
In 2019, I was appointed Chief of Research of the entire Technology group representing over 650 research professionals. This role involves looking across the vast breadth of Gartner’s excellent technology coverage to set the strategic direction for the research agenda and publications.
I am responsible for managing the professionals that define, execute and ensure quality control of the technology research portfolio. It's hard work as technology is ever more dynamic, complex, and changing at an unprecedented velocity.
I have the privilege of thinking more broadly and strategically about technology solutions and services with some of the finest minds in the industry.
My leadership style is inspired by my mom – strong, persistent, passionate – and always acting in service of the group success. Like the Greek women’s role in the household – they are the understated and often unrecognized foundation, consistent engine, and the glue (or Greek honey) that nourishes the whole unit.
Fortunately, as corporate America evolves and grows to acknowledge the incredible contributions of women in the workforce, I have been awarded several accolades. I humbly and graciously accepted the 2019 Research Analyst of the Year award by the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations (https://lnkd.in/dfzsgBn ). I also appeared and contributed to reports showcased on CBS 60 Minutes, CNN, CNBC, PBS, Business Week, Forbes, and the Council for Foreign Relations.
TNH: What have you learned from your work experiences and study of Hyperautomation and Artificial Intelligence?
FK: Many of the learnings from my study of technology (specifically Hyperautomation and Artificial Intelligence) align with some of the writings of the author Yuval Noah Harari in his book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. One approach is to strive to see the world as it truly is and the natural beauty it reveals to all of us.
To do so, we should remain humble, seek reliable data sources, understand our limitations and biases, and be ready for change. The liberalism of the United States (and other cultures), which emphasizes the importance of liberty and freedom in political and economic life, became the predominant ideology of the 20th century but is inadequate to manage the global challenges of the 21st century posed by nuclear weapons, emerging technologies, and impending ecological changes.
Tribalism in the form of nationalism, religion, and culture threatens to divide humanity against itself, leading to such problems as intolerance, war, and terrorism.
The technological challenge at the heights of artificial intelligence and mechanization will radically change the nature of human work, as well as enable human behavior to be thoroughly understood and eventually controlled. These changes have the potential to worsen the immense chasm of inequality.
The political challenge involves the analysis of the emergence of a global community and the limits of that community, identifying different ways in which tribal interests have divided humanity along nationalist, religious, and cultural lines. Layered on top of all of this is that it has become unclear what “truth is” and whether “facts matter.”
Harari writes about a ‘post-truth’ world, explaining that the proliferation of unfiltered information undermines our ability to detect factual and moral truths. Hence, resilience is the way forward. We must first understand ourselves, learn to think critically, and strive to minimize suffering rather than adhere rigidly to any particular narrative or doctrine.
TNH: What have you learned from life?
FK: My personal and professional life is almost like a modern-day Homeric Odyssey. It has allowed me to travel to over 100 countries worldwide and learn so much from many trials and tribulations. I have come to experience firsthand that we are more alike than we are different. Across so many cultures – the faces, colors, foods, and scenery may vary, but the hopes, dreams, loves, losses, connections, and human experiences are incredibly similar.
Home is where the heart is and where people find community and support; it is where they long to stay. I love all that Greece offers and will always have a soft spot there, but I will always come back to the New York area, where I have an amazing circle of friends and love that forms my foundation.
I contribute to local causes and partake in community events, including coaching basketball and raising money for local charities. And, of course, taking full advantage of living in New York by visiting the Cloisters, the MET, the Museum of Natural History, the Rubin Museum, and the High Line.
I also love to frequent live music in local venues, and I share with pride that I am one of the first 100 members of the MOTH (a spoken word organization that is now international).
Working in technology and living in the era of the knowledge economy, I would like to share the following quote: "We are more connected and yet more isolated than at any other time in history.”
Many have traded: Trust for ‘Tweets’; Smiles for ‘Statuses’; Love for ‘Likes’; and Conversations for ‘Comments’.
As such, it's essential to get back to the simple abundance of our humanity, our neighbors, and our community. I always remind myself of how lucky I am to be able to afford to live in Manhattan (the heart of New York City) and travel to Greece often –and I should not take things for granted.
I’ve only ‘met’ Zaferios G Caragianades once in the pages of history.
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