Over the last decade, Tatiana Kolovou, a senior lecturer in business
communications, has taken about 300 Kelley School undergraduates and MBA students of the University of Indiana to Greece as part of immersion courses about the country, its economy and culture.
She and two dozen undergraduate students in her ”Business Culture of Greece” class traveled to the country recently, during their spring break on March 10-17, 2019.
They visited Greek companies and met with business professionals involved in a variety of industries, including a leading digital media communications company, a natural cosmetics company, an outdoor recreational products manufacturer, an olive oil producer, and tourism and travel firms.
The people they met included Anastasios Economou, founder of the investment holding company iGroup, who has been called the ”Mark Cuban of Greece,” and Nikos Panayiotopoulos, a member of the Greek parliament.
A key element to the course and the students’ visits are the consulting projects they take part in with Greek companies.
This spring, they did work for “My Odyssey,” a travel agency which continues to expand its reach into China and attract more visitors from that nation to Greece.
”Students have approached the issue globally, and indeed have helped us with their proposals, which are substantial and targeted. Indeed, some of their recommendations we will follow,” company CEO and co-founder Fokion Drosos told a reporter from the state-run AMNA news agency recently.
Kolovou came from Athens to Indiana in 1984 as an ”academic immigrant” to study at the University of Indiana.
She started a family there, and today teaches business communications at Kelley, helping her students to be more effective in working across cultures. She also consults with executives and teams from large companies to develop effective communication skills for global enterprise.
She came up with the idea of making academic trips to Greece when the financial crisis hit the country in 2009.
While discussing the situation with a Kelley School administrator at a Christmas party back then, Kolovou reminded him that the issues in Greece reached beyond the country’s borders and affected the rest of Europe.
This new reality sparked her to do all that she possibly could to assist Greece’s entrepreneurial culture, and to help her students better understand how the country’s businesses really operated.
The class has offered Kelley students a unique opportunity to look closely at the economic crisis in Greece, how it caused reverberations across global financial markets, and the country’s efforts to emerge from recession.
”I wanted to change the mindset among Americans who believed that the Greeks were lazy. I wanted to do something to help others see the true face of my country,” Kolovou has said.
She adds, ”What I seek and want every time I come back to America from Greece is for my students to say to their peers that Greece is not what they thought.”