Welcome to TNH’s Takeover! In collaboration with The Hellenic Initiative (THI), The National Herald and THI have begun a partnership to introduce the NEXTGEN of Greek/Cypriot ‘movers and shakers’ to the rest of our Diaspora community around the world. Established to inform its readers about all things related to our homeland and its respective communities throughout the world, TNH is now providing THI’s New Leaders (40-years-old and younger), with a new platform to showcase their ideas and to engage their communities in a deeper, more meaningful way while simultaneously building a bridge to Greece and Cyprus. Our next featured New Leader is Petros Perselis. Get to know him below!
Last Name, First Name
What city do you live in?
Where in Greece are you from?
- Global Head of Customer Success at Cutover
What motivated you to get involved with THI?
- For years I've been following THI's work, have participated in many educational/charity/networking events, and have met many of its leaders, staff, and contributors. First, I've been impressed by the caliber of the people running the various THI initiatives and their passion to give back to Hellenism. Second, I've seen the impact of THI's work in helping revitalize the Greek economy through the $17m+ in donations, the thought leadership, the mentoring, and the awareness-raising efforts. I want to help! There's more we can do together! Having grown up and lived in Greece for 20 years and having been outside of the country for the past 10yrs+, I feel the need to give back and being part of THI is the best enabler.
Favorite activity to take part in where you live?
- I love playing soccer. Before the pandemic I was part of 2-3 regular leagues per week, but lately I've tried my luck participating in organized pickup games all around NYC. The best times are when I meet fellow Greeks and Cypriots; "sport is an instrument for mutual understanding between individuals, and between people all over the world" as they say in the Olympics.
Favorite Greek product you can find outside of Greece?
- Feta cheese from Titan Foods in Astoria (is this too cheesy of an answer?!)
In addition to THI, how are you involved in/help the Greek/Cypriot community?
- I regularly meet with students and young professionals from Greece, Cyprus, and of Hellenic descent to counsel them on college applications, provide career advice, and mentor on business strategy. I particularly enjoy talking to new founders and aspiring tech entrepreneurs in the Endeavor network as well as other VC/incubator programs (e.g. greektech).
What is the biggest crisis Greece/Cyprus faces today?
- I think it's the so-called 'brain drain'. Many brilliant hard-working young Greeks/Cypriots left the countries during the 2008-2018 financial crisis, built roots abroad and, on many occasions, lost a deep connection with the motherland. In my opinion, a big bet for this next decade will be to provide incentives to either bring many of those people back when they're in their 30s/40s, or enable them to connect with their roots and give back in other ways (not necessarily contribute funds, but also expertise, branding & advertising their Hellenism, etc). New technologies and the recent pandemic have taught us that borders can be crushed, which creates an opportunity for all Hellenes around the world to physically be, or at least practically act, united.
One piece of advice an elder has given you that has proved invaluable?
- Not an elder but a prior manager at work once told me: "when you identify a problem, don't stop there; focus your energy in finding a solution". I now often say this to people in my teams – life is full of setbacks, but what makes it enjoyable is the conviction that there will always be solutions and we have the ability to shape them.
How has your Hellenic background helped shape who you are today?
- I talk about my Hellenic background often among friends, at work, and pretty much in every facet of my life. When I'm trying to interpret a concept, i.e. at work or when reading a news article, I always overlay my own experience as a Greek and think "how did we do this in Greece" or "what did I learn growing up in Greece with regards to this." Many times this approach has helped me stand out from the crowd in the way I think, feel, interact, and respond to what professional and personal life throws at me. Other times it has helped me acknowledge my own shortcomings and embrace a new concept or way that is better than 'how we did it in Greece'; this is exactly when I feel the responsibility to educate and support others of Hellenic descent, ultimately sharing the knowledge and experience I've gained abroad.