Greece is becoming an increasingly attractive investment destination, as evidenced by the data on foreign direct investment that are on an upward trajectory from 2020, despite the negative international environment.
According to Panos Papazoglou, CEO of EY Greece, in addition to the quantitative increase, there is a significant qualitative improvement in the investment mix, as in recent years Greece has been attracting high value-added investments, such as , in the field of technology and, more generally, in areas of knowledge intensity.
This trend, according to Mr. Papazoglou, is consistently confirmed by the annual surveys of EV Attractiveness Survey Greece, which show that the image of the investment community for the country is steadily improving and that global companies recognize significant advantages of Greece, such as quality and skills of human resources. “However, it is important to remember that, at the same time that the image of Greece is improving – starting, let us not forget, from a fairly low starting point – other European economies are also waging similar struggles to improve their attractiveness. “So let’s stop comparing ourselves with our past performance and compare ourselves with the competing countries,” says Mr. Papazoglou.
At the same time, the Greek economy, two years after the pandemic and with the geopolitical developments constantly changing the data, is facing two major categories of challenges: On the one hand, the necessary adaptation to the new data created, or accelerated, by the pandemic , which include many parallel but different trends, such as the digital transformation of businesses and new channels of consumer communication, the shift to sustainability, society’s demand for greater emphasis on environment, society and governance (ESG) large shortages of human resources, combined with new expectations and demands of employees for greater flexibility.
At the same time, however, Greek companies must operate in a fluid, in recent months, geopolitical environment that creates, among other things, new problems in the supply chain, while they must complete the adjustment that began during the years of economic crisis, to overcome the pathogenesis of the past: that is, to increase their extroversion, to invest in innovation and human resources, and to seek their growth, either through organic development or through mergers and partnerships. “In short, we have a permanent barometric low in the business atmosphere that causes successive storms, with small gaps in sunshine. This situation requires vigilance, adaptability and strong leadership,” Mr. Papazoglou told APE-MPE.
He also adds that what started as a short-term disruption, due to supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, and supply and demand imbalances in 2021, appears to be evolving into a much more serious and long-term impact. In particular, the war in Ukraine and the economic sanctions in Russia further complicated matters.
Mr. Papazoglou estimates that “it is difficult to predict when this situation will escalate, but it is certain that, in the short term, companies will have to adapt to this new environment. They will have to strengthen their resilience, review their supply chain, to accelerate, as far as they can, the transition to a more sustainable energy model, and, inevitably, to revise their investment plans, in view of the rising cost of borrowing. ”
The role of human resources in the new regularity is crucial
Focusing on the prospects of the employment sector as well as the impossibility of finding a workforce from many companies, Mr. Papazoglou speaking to APE-MPE notes: from a global, more recent phenomenon “. In Greece, as EV has shown for many years, there is a mismatch between the needs of the real economy and the graduates of Greek universities.
According to Mr. Papazoglou, this is due to many factors, including the lack of serious vocational guidance in schools, the very slow updating of curricula, but also, in general, the lack of contact and interaction between the business and academic community. “In recent years, important steps have been taken in the right direction, but much remains to be done,” he said, adding: Here, too, the problem is complex, as it is linked to factors such as the sharp increase in demand in these sectors, the migration barriers caused by the pandemic, and in some countries xenophobia, but also the increased expectations of young workers, who today demand greater flexibility, better pay and prospects “.
According to him, reversing the brain drain, which is a national goal, can certainly help address the problem, as well as, in general, greater employee mobility. “In this context, I am particularly pleased that, through the expansion of its activities and its enrichment with new innovative services, EV in the last few years has created over 1,100 new, quality jobs for young scientists and professionals, contributing to “In this way, in the last twelve months alone, EY has hired 30 Greek scientists and professionals working abroad, with a strategic goal of attracting many more in the coming years.” .
EV, in recent years, has recorded strong growth, increasing its human resources from 540 people in 2011 to 1,700 in 2021, with the prospect of exceeding 2,000 this year. At the same time, the introduction of the hybrid working model and digital technology allow the company to look for executives beyond Athens and Thessaloniki. “Our office in Patras is growing day by day and the first signs are that it will grow significantly in the coming years. Our people become members of a global team of 330,000 professionals in 150 countries, while gaining access to cutting-edge technologies, methodologies, tools and knowledge. “Similarly, local businesses will be able to benefit from a high level of services and know – how, which will enable them to achieve their development goals.”
According to Mr. Papazoglou, Patras, and the wider region, has a rich pool of exceptional young scientists with significant skills, high-level university faculties and a dynamic ecosystem of research and innovation. “Patras was an obvious choice for us, which is why we were the first company in our industry to announce the creation of offices in the city. , and which we can support with the full range of our services “he states characteristically. It also adds that EV is an organization that relies mainly on technology and its people. And it is precisely the high level of local human resources and, in particular, the skills of young graduates in cutting-edge technologies, which of course are the excellent work being done at the University of Patras, which pushed us to choose Patras for our new offices, and I think it is worth noting here the beneficial role of digital technology, which today gives more and more the opportunity to young children , wherever they are, to enjoy the same opportunities and possibilities as their peers in Athens, who until recently, had easier access to them “.