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"Home is where the heart is" - that's a famous saying that is 100% true for Maria Anargyrou-Nikolic. When she joined Coca-Cola HBC she left her home country Greece to work in Belgrade. She was more than successful and after roles in Marketing and Commercial in Serbia, she was offered the role of the General Manager. 

A challenging role, but on top, this one required her to move to Zagreb, Croatia. She took the challenge and after two years she handed over a stable Business Unit, before she went to work in Czech and Slovakia where she stayed for more than 3 years. She celebrated successes, survived failures, and left a legacy together with her teams in all these countries. Grateful for the experience, when she had the chance to come back home, she did.

She started a new chapter in her career career by being appointed as the General Manager of Greece and Cyprus. After almost 10 years being far from home, she wanted to integrate again in the Greek and Cypriot reality. Through our internal platform Opportunity Marketplace she asked our colleagues in Greece and Cyprus to share with her the culture in both countries, but also their needs and ideas so she could feel home soon again. We asked Maria to share her impressions with us.

Opportunity Marketplace logo and a man and a woman smiling Opportunity Marketplace logo and a man and a woman smiling

Maria, you used our platform Opportunity Marketplace to ask for long term support of people to help you re-integrate. More than 20 employees from different functions and experience level wanted to help you. Did you expect this variety of people?

Maria: Actually, I was impressed! I am really honored, excited and happy that so many people from different functions, regions, layers were willing to help and support me on this journey. 23 employees in 4 cross-functional teams, the one from CY, full of energy and passion to share and support. Their participation confirms that our people are thirsty to grow, learn and seek exciting opportunities that they will get them out of their comfort zone. This is true Hellenic Spirit! 

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Can you share something you have learned so far from speaking to them? 

Maria: Every meeting is a learning session for me. It is in fact the opportunity to learn from our own people about our culture, economy and demographics for both Greece and Cyprus and how all these relate to and apply to our company.

And what is so special… Is not only the actual information. It is the experience and teams’ energy that I fully enjoy. The dedication and commitment of every member behind this project, is impressive!

I volunteered as it is a good opportunity to be involved in projects that are out of your comfort zone and learn new things. Also, through this cross-functional projects we meet colleagues from other departments, and we understand their contribution and needs better. 

Thanasis Bouziakas Warehouse Manager

Your agenda is very busy, how did you manage to make time for the calls and did you meet everybody? 

Maria: Applying the principle I have in managing - through scheduling and prioritization. As this is something, I do for me, it takes its place and really fits in well. Not only complements my on-boarding but also, especially now with Covid restrictions, it gives me the opportunity to come closer with the team. So, I make sure to have time that is well spent with the team and share this learning with them. No matter how busy our agenda is, we can always plan right to have time to develop and learn. 

Since you used Opportunity Marketplace yourself, what do you think is the added value people can have from participating in cross-country and/or cross-functional projects on the platform?

Maria: I think it represents a fresh and innovative way to open possibilities to people for development. They learn to work on a project and have the opportunity to get a wider picture of our business as they work with people from different functions and layers. They learn how to collaborate with people who usually don’t work with and they also develop valuable leadership skills.  

It is a cross-functional project. So I gained a more general perspective, understanding the point of view of different colleagues from different departments for issues related with our business. It also helped me to further expand my internal network.

Nikos Papandrianos Market Analyst

Would you consider posting another project after this one is over? If so, would you have an idea already? 

Maria: This project will last for 6 months with 4 dedicated teams. I want to give space and time to the project to flourish and follow an end-to-end approach to fully understand, digest, and follow up when needed.  I will for sure continue with the next one, when Cultural Re-integration project is fully completed. But I would also like to encourage others to participate in projects on Opportunity Marketplace either as an owner or as a seeker. It is an amazing 

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So, if you've got a drive to succeed, a willingness to learn and a winning spirit, why not join us?