Some of the most esteemed leaders of the Greek Australian community raised their glasses to honour the best and brightest of the Greek Australian community at the Hellenic Australian Community of Chamber and Industry (HACCI) awards on Friday, 15 November.
The awards, held at the Plaza Ballroom, acknowledge and reward organisations and individuals that have achieved excellence in seven areas.
Bank of Sydney Business Excellence Awards – Maria Mavrikos
Maria was just 40 days old when Turkey invaded Cyprus, and she was only two years old when her family left Cyprus for Australia. She started her first business as an English tutor for children of migrant background when she was just 12 years old. Since then, she has been pursuing her passion for business.
Her first work experience came at the family fish and chips shops and cafes, where she enjoyed managing the till and preparing the account bookwork.
While studying for her Bachelor of Arts at Monash University, she started working for a steel fabricator, developing an interest in steel and construction. Within three years, with the encouragement of her employer, she was managing the business, quadrupling its turnover.
In 2000 she set up her own structural steel business. As Director of Structural Challenge Pty Ltd, she gained a reputation for successfully taking on the most difficult projects and offering superior project management.
In 2005 she received the City of Melbourne Crystal Vision Award for Advancing the Interests of Women in the Construction Industry.
She is a board member of the Australian Steel Institute and represents steel fabricators has sat on numerous sub-committees. She is also and committee member of the Steel Fabricators Association of Victoria and part of the charity organisation The Steel Club.
She remains as passionate about Australian manufacturing as she was on her first day on the job.
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HACCI Woman of Influence Award presented by Moore Stephens – Freda Miriklis
Internationally recognised as a global champion for women’s empowerment, she has worked with corporations, governments and NGOs and the United Nations to promote equality and ethical business practices on a global scale.
Born to a mother from Lemnos and a father from Kastellorizo, she grew up in Fitzroy and attended St John’s Greek Orthodox Schools in Carlton and Preston, before pursuing a career in finance.
For more than two decades, she held private client and corporate advisory roles in wealth management and was a frequent financial market commentator in broadcast and print media. In the early ‘90s, she helped shape and develop ASX education courses for the public.
From 2011 to 2014 she served as President of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, being the youngest elected President and CEO of the organisation and one of only four Australians to have held this office globally, since 1930. She was a driver of cultural change, policies and programmes to improve the status of women, serving as main representative to the United Nations forums on human rights and women’s rights.
In 2014 she co-founded the Commonwealth Businesswomen (CBW), the only accredited organisation on women’s empowerment recognised by 53 governments.
As chairperson of the CBW, she has driven advocacy efforts on accelerating equality through gender mainstreaming at key ministerial meetings including the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM).
In 2016 she helped establish the TX Foundation, building schools in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and South America through public-private partnerships.
In 2018 the Women’s Empowerment Award was named after her to recognise her work and her instrumental role in developing and promoting the Women’s Empowerment Principles – a partnership initiative of UN Women and UN Global Compact (UNGC) – now considered the nexus for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
HACCI Professional Excellence Award presented by Salary Masters – Peter Konidaris
An experienced professional services partner, he has been advising clients and Government for more than 20 years in infrastructure, tax and reform initiatives.
He is the Market Managing Partner for PwC in Melbourne, responsible for the firm’s Victorian strategy and leading a staff of nearly 2,000.
He is also the Client Lead Partner for PwC’s Victorian Government practice.
He is the Markets leader for PwC’s Financial Advisory business and the Global Indirect Tax Technology Leader.
Specialising in GST and international trade, he has advised local and international clients on GST issues since its introduction. He is widely recognised for his expertise and insight in these fields.
He holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the University of Melbourne and is admitted as a Solicitor and Barrister at Law in Victoria.
He is a Fellow of the Tax Institute of Australia and a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.
He is also a board member of the Flack Trust and Council Member for the Victorian Police Blue Ribbon Foundation.
He is passionate about all things relating to Melbourne and has published many thought leadership articles relating to equality and economic prosperity.
HACCI Community Service Award presented by Pronia – Maria Strintzos
She is a humanitarian aid expert, with three decades of experience working with some of the poorest women, children, men and communities in Indonesia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Eritrea, as well with disadvantaged women in Australia
She grew up in South Melbourne and studied at Melbourne University, where she completed her Bachelor and Masters degree in Education, being the first scholar to examine the issue of Class, Gender and Ethnicity and school outcomes among Greek girls in Melbourne.
After her graduation, she worked in a Housing Support Service for Women with Mental Health problems; in 1988, she was the first Greek Australian to join the Australian Volunteers Abroad program, spending two years in Suharto’s Indonesia, developing programs to assist vulnerable women.
Following that, she joined Community Aid Abroad, now Oxfam Australia, as the Horn of Africa Project Officer, looking after aid programs in Ethiopia, Sudan and Eritrea.
Seven years later, she joined the Relief Society of Tigray (REST); as the Head of Fundraising and Public Relations, she has worked for the wellbeing and food security of four million of the poorest and hungriest women, men and children in the world.
In 2005, she also established the Hawzien Orphan Project, which has assisted . hundreds of children, among them her adopted son Haftu, who became the Australian and Oceania U20 Cross Country Champion and the Australian 5km champion and is now a student-athlete at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
After 18 years in Addis Ababa, she returned to Melbourne in 2011. She is still working with REST, still supporting orphans and being an advocate for the development of Ethiopia.
Every year, she raises more than $US 50 million for the people of Tigray.
She has also been involved in the Philanthropic Society of Kaloneri, Kozani for close to 20 years, serving as its Secretary and first ever female President.
HACCI Sporting Excellence Award presented by Heidelberg United FC- Elias Donoudis
Born in Veria, Greece, were he completed high school, he developed a love for sport and – in particular – football, at a very early age, the backstreets of the city being the stage for games and foundation for fond memories.
At the same time, he developed a profound love for language and the written word, instilled in him by his mother, who was a teacher at the local school.
While still in high-school, he created a hand-written newspaper, circulating it among his schoolmates, in what was a sign of what the future would hold for him.
When he finished school, he was one of the top students admitted to the course of Law and Economics at the University of Aristotle in Thessaloniki, but the academic world was not for him.
During his studies, he found his true vocation, working as a sports reporter at a local sporting newspaper, much to the dismay of his mother.
In 1970 he migrated to Australia; soon after, he started working for Neos Kosmos. Five decades later, his byline is one of the most respected in the whole of Greek media.
Apart from print media, he was also passionate about broadcasting; he was instrumental in founding SBS 3EA radio, as well as other radio stations and Greek programs in our community.
A passionate sports and culture reporter, he has interviewed every major Greek artist visiting Melbourne, and he has travelled to many countries around the globe, from Mexico to Greece and from Brazil to every part of Oceania.
Covering the most important international football events, he had the chance to interview football legends such as Pele, Ferenc Puskas and Franz Beckenbauer.
The Christos Saristavros Young Achievers Award – Jim Giamarelos
Born to a family of migrants from Lemnos, who set up their home in the outer northern suburb of Lalor, from a very young age he learnt the value of hard work, instilled in him by his parents; his father George worked three jobs in construction, while his mother Sonia worked as retail assistant while raising a young family.
Having inherited his parents’ work ethic, he juggled two part-time jobs during senior school; on school holidays, he would work with his father on the construction site, at the family fish and chips shops, while at the same time he run soccer programs.
The older of three siblings, he was an active and competitive child, playing multiple sports including soccer, futsal, cricket and swimming. He was a house captain in school and an all-round excellent student, developing an interest in construction, design and architecture.
By the time he graduated from Melbourne Polytechnic, he was already working at an architecture firm, never forgetting his origins as the son of a bricklayer.
After completing studies in building design, he spent several years working across three different design practices, obtaining a range of experience in apartment building and high-end residential design, through to commercial design focusing on the hospitality industry.
He is a Victorian Building Authority registered building designer, a long-standing member of Design Matters formerly known as the Building Designer’s Association of Victoria, member of the Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Property Council of Australia.
As the leader of dedicated, young Maison Co team of design professionals, he is instrumental in creating new pathways in construction. His teams’ work ethic, fresh ideas and questioning of the status quo and are redefining customer service in building design.
The Spiros Stamoulis Lifetime Achievement Award – George Pappas AO
Born in Rhodes on 11 June 1946, Greece, he migrated to Australia in 1952.
Sixteen years later, he graduated with First Class Honours from Monash University, having completed a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. In 1971 he completed an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School.
Right after his graduation, he joined the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), moving on to lead the international firm’s office in Tokyo.
Upon his return to Australia, in 1979, he co-founded Pappas Carter Evans and Koop (PCEK), which rose to become the leading Australian management consultancy firm, providing strategic advice to the top management of the nation’s largest companies.
When the Boston Consulting Group’s acquired PCEK in 1990, he became Managing Partner of BCG’s Australasian offices and a member of its worldwide executive committee.
Since then he has undertaken several assignments for State and Federal governments, including serving as the Under Secretary of the Victorian Premier’s Department from 2003 to 2005 and leading the Audit of the Federal Defence Budget in 2008.
In 2013 he retired from the Chair of the Committee for Melbourne, a position he had held from 2005. During his tenure, he led a group comprised of some of the city’s most influential companies and institutions and personally led the Committee’s effort to support new and innovative industry development, as well as the promotion of Melbourne’s Higher Education sector.
In 2010 he was appointed the fourth Chancellor of Victoria University, the first university Chancellor of Greek heritage to be appointed in Australia. He is stepping down on 31 December 2019 to be succeeded by former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks.
In 2015, he was named Kastellorizian of the Year, honoured by the Australian migrants coming from his mother’s birthplace.
In 2016, he received the Order of Australia (AO) in recognition for his contributions to business, higher education and medical research.
He has served on a variety of public and private governance bodies.
He has also been involved with local and professional sporting organisations.
He has continued to mentor younger people in business and government.
He is married to Jillian for 49 years, being a father of four daughters and a grandfather of twelve grandchildren.
With a life devoted to scholarship and to business, his legacy will live on for many years to come.