Rebecca Pitsika - CEO of People for Business
Meet Rebecca Pitsika
Founder and CEO of People for Business headquartered in Greece, shares her thoughts about being a woman entrepreneur, what makes her happy, and her connection to Soul Sayers.
The Soul Sayers Connection…
I had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca at the New Orleans Citizen's Diplomacy Council, when I spoke to a group of women entrepreneurs visiting the US on a trip sponsored by the State Department. We talked about the joys and challenges of entrepreneurship, society's expectations, myths and stereotypes placed on women in the workplace. We also spoke about juggling it all and how to find balance and wellness amidst the schedules, deadlines and demands.
When I started the Soul Sayers Podcast, I immediately thought about Rebecca. She is determined, and I dare say brilliant to incubate and launch a business at the onset of a great economic crisis in her country. She is a Mom, she has besties, she dreams of her future and seeks new challenges. Not one to be complacent, Rebecca is a goal setter both in business as well as her personal life. Join us as we discuss her journey to becoming a CEO, how she's jumping obstacles and what's important to her.
Rebecca is a rounded HR professional, having worked for almost 25 years in the HR sector, both in multinational and Greek companies. Currently, she is the founder and CEO of People for Business, awarded in 2012 by Sir Stelios Haji ioannou as the “Best Young Entrepreneur in Greece of the year 2012.” In 2014, she participated in the International Visitors Leadership Program for “Small-Medium Business Development” sponsored by the State Department in Washington, D.C. She also sits on assessment committees for HR issues and acts as a mentor in career management through well-known organizations, associations and universities.
Tell us about your company and your role?
We are a team of professionals in the area of people and culture. Although it seems to be a common service, it is difficult to stand equally as a local company in a professional area dominated by international companies. You need to prove yourself all the time, in terms of quality and customer focus. My role is to keep the team motivated, to be the leader and, at the same time, one of them, one of us. But most of all, my role is to drive results and ensure continuous development.
What are you most proud of in your tenure there?
Starting a company from scratch and leading it to get achievements and recognition– such as the “Best Young Entrepreneur for Greece, 2012” or my distinction in the FORTUNE list “30 Most Powerful Women in Greece” for years, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
What has required the most focus or energy?
Managing people and showing empathy to understand their needs. As a person I am strongly result oriented and being focused on people needs is out of my nature. So, I have to put extra effort to develop EQ rather than IQ.
How did you come to make this move?
I always wanted to put my legacy in things, to do it my own way. I always had it in the back of my mind. Even as an employee, I was looking for environments “free of control” “goal driven” .When I was not in such environments, I was not happy.
When you left your previous position to take this one - what were the voices in your head telling you as you were deciding to start this new venture?
It was my feeling it was the right time. It was Christmas 2016, during my Christmas break when I stepped back, saw things from a different perspective, “from a distance” and took the decision to move on with my own step.
What were other people telling you? Did you have a mentor/mentors?
Actually not. It was my husband who first motivated me and pushed me to become an entrepreneur. I still remember him saying “You work so much for others, why don’t you do it for yourself?
Did you listen? Either to the voices in your head or others?
It was both. My husband “got out of me” my deep desire. Although he was never involved in my business, he is always there to support me – even if he sometimes feels “aside” due to my heavy schedule
Regrets never! No value for me. I do not regret for things I cannot change. Mistakes and failures a lot, but learn from them and move forward
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career. Did it pay off?
I am not sure… I am a low risk taker and I try to plan and organize carefully my future steps.
Have you had any real low points? What did you do during that time?
My real low points are when business is stuck. Not only because my family’s financial status depends on my company, but also because my employees families depend on me and the company. Once, I got a loan for that reason, I have paid it back…You asked me before what I am proud of: I would say I am proud that during these 12 years I have not delayed not even a day to pay my employees. And I pray every day to God this never happen ….
What is the business climate like in Greece for women executives?
Unfortunately, the business climate in Greece is not good for anyone. My country is in the 9th year of economic crisis, with a high unemployment rate at approximately 25%. This creates less opportunities for all. However women are more flexible and find ways to survive – we are survivors by nature, as we need to be, we are born to be mothers and survive to grow our children!
How do gender roles affect women in the workplace? What are your thoughts on pay equality?
As far as I am concerned, I have never suffered a gender diversity approach. I had equal opportunities based on my results and performance. In my country, I believe that any gender issues are not because of perceptions any more. They happen due to the lack of sufficient social/public support to mothers, enough public nursery schools etc. And due to this fact, women may consider less opportunities for practical issues.
What are women doing to educate or enlighten the population about their ability to perform, to lead organizations and drive new ways of doing business?
Work hard, work hard, word hard! That’s the only way to convince that women are equally capable to lead!
How are you feeling about yourself at this stage in your life?
I feel I need new challenges. I work towards a business exit - it is not easy – so as to stop a while and then explore new professional paths.
What are some of your more personal aspirational goals - not related to work or career?
To grow up my daughter as a happy person and support her to find her own way.
Tell me about your visit to the US with the State Department - what did you take away from that experience?
It was a milestone that changed my life. I felt free in a country providing equal opportunities, based on personal skills and competences. I took great value seeing all different aspects of the continent, traveling in 4 different states. I feel grateful for this chance in my life – which changed afterwards
Are you able to share with us a disappointment or obstacle that may have set you back - what did you do to overcome that? Or is it still a work in progress.
My main obstacle is “barriers” in the politics - a new field I am recently involved in as a professional recruiter. As I am not part of a traditional political party, just a professional doing a specific job, I meet with the “traditional” part and deal with them. That is difficult, I make mistakes, I have to adjust my approach.
Tell us about your girlfriends - how have they been important to you? Do you find it difficult to make connections with other women?
I was grateful to study in a girls’ school, and my closest friends are my classmates. I am lucky to meet very interesting women as new friends during my life – few but valuable. But to tell the truth, for me it is easier to connect with women sharing same values as me than meeting just mothers, I have not many things to share, although I respect them for their choices.
Thanks Rebecca for sharing a bit of yourself with us. One thing is for sure, no matter where we live on this planet, women are connected by our creativity, our ability to survive, the quest to prove our abilities and the unique life-giving force that makes us sisters. We are far more alike than different.
Rebecca's company is People for Business in the beautiful country of Greece which is on my bucket list of trips! Please visit her on the web: www.pfb-group.com or check out her LinkedIn profile