FACES #18 Christmas edition with Dimitrios Doukas, CIO & Country Manager Greece
As 2022 is coming to an end, FACES decided to get dressed in its finest Christmas outfit. Today, we have the pleasure of hosting Dr. Dimitrios Doukas, NET2GRID’s Chief Information Officer and Country Manager of NET2GRID's Tech Hub in Greece for a year-in-review chat.
Dimitrios has been with NET2GRID for more than 5 years, starting as Head of Analytics before progressing to Chief Information Officer and Country Manager for the Greek branch. Dimitrios has an impressive 10-year teaching and R&D experience. He holds a Ph.D. from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Power Systems, Power Electronics, and Control and an MSc in Sustainable Energy Systems from the University of Edinburgh.
1. Hello Dimitri and welcome to this very festive episode of FACES! Let’s start with your role at NET2GRID. You are wearing two hats: one as Chief Information Officer and one as Country Manager for Greece. What do these two different roles entail? It’s quite common and challenging in the start-up and scale-up world for people to wear more than one hat. As a Country Manager, I am the main person responsible for our Tech Hub’s expansion in Thessaloniki (by the way, did you know that during the last 5 years we have managed to grow from a team of 2 engineers to a high-performing team of 75 skilled individuals?) I am the main contact point for all R&D activities and our collaboration with academia.
On the other hand, as a CIO, I am leading business requirements to software specifications and setting the critical aspects for successful project implementation. I am supporting our tech teams towards the successful design and delivery of data-driven energy services to utilities, system integrators, and banks in 10 European countries, the US, Australia, and Singapore, and filling the business development pipeline by engaging with prospects and partners. 2. During your time with the company, you started in the Analytics Team in the early days of NET2GRID Hellas before progressing to a managerial role. How does NET2GRID support internal transfers and what would be one piece of advice to anyone who may be looking to pivot in their career? There is a famous quote by Steve Jobs, “It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do, we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” I am so proud that at NET2GRID we are not only giving people the freedom to operate but also the freedom to build their career paths within our organization. To give you an example, at NET2GRID you may find technical people that decided to move closer to the Product, colleagues who jumped from the Business Development team to Sales, and people of different technical backgrounds being involved with HR, finance, or customer success. We embrace and support role-changing within our company to keep our colleagues happy, motivated, and challenged. 3. What is the tech job landscape in Thessaloniki, the city where the NET2GRID Hellas office is located? Thessaloniki has changed significantly during the last 10 years. It started as a destination that was “overproducing” engineers and developers by hundreds per year but the local ecosystem was not able to absorb them. It evolved as an internationally attractive Tech destination with plenty of multinational companies landing here to invest by building teams, hubs, and companies. Although this is a very challenging momentum for companies like us that are willing to grow further, this transition is more than welcome since such a competition sets the bar higher for all of us. 4. What do international companies like NET2GRID look for from potential employees? We are not only looking for clever engineers with great STEM studies and backgrounds. We are looking for ambitious and curious team players that can fit well in our working environment and culture. We are looking for self-starters with a can-do attitude and an entrepreneurial way of thinking. This applies not only to developers or engineers since we are hiring for BizDev & MarCom, Designers, project managers, and other professionals from the non-tech world.
5. Taking stock of NET2GRID’S highlights this year, could you please share with us three achievements that you are most proud of? We were certified as a Great Place to Work in both Greece and the Netherlands, which is the result of continuous efforts, investments, and patience. Furthermore, we managed to grow our FTEs by more than 50% within just a year, whereas we lost only a few of our colleagues. Even for the leavers, I am proud as well, since their journey with NET2GRID provided them with the necessary skills and expertise to proceed with their careers abroad.
Lastly, we executed our plan to grow the company further. NET2GRID has currently established a presence in GR, NL, and the US has some of the biggest energy companies in the world (EON, EDP, ENI, ENGIE, EDF, etc) as customers, and has built partnerships with tech giants like AWS, Itron and SAP.
6. Any memorable moments from the office this year? Plenty 🙂 Ping pong tournaments that never end, growing avocados from seed, photo shooting on our building’s rooftop, and Christmas gifts boxing by the NET2GRID elves are the ones that I remember the most. Also, although not a hiking fan myself, our colleagues organized plenty of hiking tours and they had a great time. A major highlight was that our colleagues stepped their feet on the top of Mount Olympus this year!
7. What are the company’s goals for 2023? Scale, scale, scale! But without sacrificing our startup culture and without making the whole journey less fun than it currently is. We are confident that our products and services, especially under the current circumstances, are not just a nice-to-have but address the needs of millions of end users globally and we find the timing ideal for us to accelerate the so-called energy transition. We want to further expand our global presence, we will keep on investing in our partnerships ecosystem and we will do our best to scale sustainably the company.
8. What are you asking Santa for this year? I would like to see our post-COVID world as a world with more empathy, compassion, and love. In a more pragmatic sense though, I would love to have the opportunity to travel more with my wife and our son this year.