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General News

Katerina Pitsou: Growing Up in a Family with a Great Tradition

The stories of the great commercial families of modern Greece remain to be told to the Hellenes of the Diaspora, who don’t really know the names except for recollections of store signs and commercials during their trips to Greece when they were children. One of the great brand names is PITSOS, a company created by Katerina Pitsou’s ancestors and which developed into the number one industrial giant in Greece.

The National Herald: Tell us about your family.

Katerina Pitsou: We were a traditional nuclear family of four, with an extended family with different branches. I love all of them, and we have a great family bond.

Through my father’s hard work and success, we learned the most important values and principles of life. The love to create, to respect the people we work with – and even more the people who work for you – to be discrete and not provocative, to admire hard work, among many other simple but essential values in our everyday life in this world.

As I was growing up, all that was natural; it was just how life was. Raising my own kids, I realized how lucky I was to learn to respect these values in the best possible way by simply admiring my father and his accomplishments.

My family and my whole world today are my two sons. My men! Johnny, the eldest, 26, and Apostolos, 23.

Katerina Pitsou with her father Apostolos Pitsos.

TNH: Take us through your childhood.

KP: I had a father that I adored and respected. He was and is always there for me. I felt secure. I felt proud. I had a mother that gave me love and taught me how to smile. She made our house a beautiful home.

I was brought up surrounded by grandparents, aunts, and uncles that were part of a loving family. I feel blessed!

Katerina Pitsou in the summer of 2020.

TNH: How would you describe yourself to someone that just met you?

KP: Reliable, active, and honest. I also want people to think of me as fun to be with.

TNH: For what are you grateful?

KP: Everything! Every day I thank God for dropping me on this part of the planet, into this family! I am grateful to wake up looking at the blue sky and the sun out of my window.

TNH: Are we naturally happy? If so, why don’t we feel it?

KP: I don’t really know why people who have no reason not to be happy are not. Perhaps they are ungrateful. We should be naturally happy. Kids are!

Katerina Pitsou with her horse – horseback riding is the love of her life.

TNH: What do you still find impossible to do, from your teenage years to the present?

KP: I am not sure. Actually, I have never thought or felt anything about that before. Asking me this question made me think a lot. I concluded that the reason I could not come up with an answer is simply that it’s not the way I think. As a person, I always believe that if I really want to achieve something, I will. If, in the end, I don’t manage to do so, it isn’t enjoyable, but it’s okay because I know I tried my best!

TNH: Would you say that we are all borne into a role, but the person we become depends on us?

KP: I am not sure if we are born into a role, but I am confident that what we become depends entirely on us. You see people born in the most deprived environments, and they thrive.

TNH: Are we born with our personalities, or do we become who we are?

KP: Both! I think we cannot separate the two factors. We are born with some characteristics regarding our minds, characters, and environment, and then we make the best we can with what we have or what life gives us.

Katerina Pitsou and her business partner Elina Akritidou.

TNH: Is it still a male-oriented society?

KP: Is it? Or, not anymore? We (everyone) could talk for hours on the subject. I personally think the most important thing is how one feels about themselves. I like to see myself capable of doing everything I want. Belief in oneself is the most valuable asset in overcoming any challenge.

TNH: What has been the biggest challenge in your career so far?

KP: I consider myself someone with two careers. For many years I was involved in horseback riding, following a competitive program in Dressage. I was on the Greek National team and participated in competitions around Europe on a Grand Prix level. 2011 was a turning point in my life for many reasons, one of them being stopping horseback riding and another the creation of my first real estate agency.

Hence, I consider myself having two careers with a common characteristic and that I started both of them from scratch and managed to reach a respectable level in both.

Looking back, the most challenging point was when I was riding, and I was accepted as a member of the National Team for the 2004 Olympics.

I had to travel abroad competing for six weeks, leaving behind my two boys, who were four and one year old at the time. During the same period, my Olympic horse – which was bought with the kind contribution of sponsors – had a rare undetected injury. The difficulties I was facing both in training and competition without understanding the reason, in combination with the sacrifices I had to make leaving my kids while financially being squeezed, was probably the most challenging time in my career.

Katerina Pitsou with her partner Panayis Manouelides.

TNH: Why did you choose to get involved in real estate?

KP: The answer is straightforward: “my love for real estate.” I always followed the market and conducted some profitable transactions for myself in the past. At some point in 2010, I found some properties that were interesting as investments, and since I was not personally able to invest, I automatically thought of someone that was. This case, along with the lack of quality agents that always frustrated me, made me decide to start my own agency that would provide the quality I was looking for as a client.

Aware of the emerging economic crisis, I thought it would be the perfect time to get into the market, learn, and get established to be ready when the time comes! Since then, that has been my goal, and my love for it is my drive.

Standing from left: Katerina Pitsou with her daughter-in-law Victoria De Mulder-Pitsos and her aunt Tania Papantoniou. Seated: Her niece Ellie Pitsou, her mother Eni Pitsou, and the wife of her nephew, Kiley Pitsos.

TNH: Tell us about the services of your company and your customers.

KP: Our company is called OPSIS and is involved in Real Estate. I say “our” as I run it with my partner Elina Akritidou. We are great believers in the power of teamwork, so we decided to merge and create a new company.

We are involved in residential and commercial properties, and we provide the whole range of services needed for someone to sell or buy a property. We aim for perfection and quality.

TNH: How has the coronavirus impacted the real estate business?

KP: In Greece, not much. There was a bit of a slowdown in 2020 for two reasons. The first one was primarily people avoiding contact and making the viewings difficult. The second roadblock was the lack of a functioning online bureaucratic system necessary to complete real estate transactions. The situation is changing, though, now for the better.

Standing from left: Katerina Pitsou’s eldest son Johhny Mylonas, her nephew Apostolos-Konstantinos Pitsos, and her younger son Apostolos Mylonas. Seated from left: Her brother Konstantinos, her father Apostolos Pitsos, and Katerina Pitsou.

TNH: How is your life outside of work?

KP: Hm… I have lots of interests which could keep me happily occupied for hours! Mostly sports, preferably in the sea at this point in my life. Fishing is one of my favorites. I always find things to do that make me happy, and I never feel lonely; let’s put it like that.

 

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