"As much as I love the game, my job is my number-one priority"

Elias Sofronas

Business Analyst

Business Analyst

Business Analyst in AB Vassilopoulos’s Local IT Demand team by day; professional basketball player by night — meet Elias Sofronas. When his workday finishes, he makes his way over to the court for his daily two-hour basketball practice. “My job is extremely important to me, but so is my biggest passion: basketball. I’m very grateful to work for an employer that gives me the opportunity to combine the two and the chance to excel at both.”  

As his dad was also a professional basketball player, Elias spent much of his childhood on a basketball court. It didn’t take long before he was hooked, too. “I started playing when I was four years old. My dad was always my biggest and proudest supporter. These days, I practice daily and play a game on Saturdays. Playing at a professional level was always my goal, so the fact that I’m here now and have been competing like this has been a dream come true.” 
 
Elias isn’t sure how much longer he’ll still perform in the top league. “As much as I love the game, my job is my number-one priority. My basketball team knows that if something comes up at work, I’ll miss practice. How many training sessions have I missed in the three years I’ve been with AB? Only one! Somehow, everything falls into place and I can almost always leave the office – or home if that’s where I’m  working  – in time to make practice. It’s one of the things I love about working for AB: there’s space for me to combine two parts of my life – my work and my passion – that are incredibly important to me.”  

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From the basketball court to business 

Two skills that he acquired on the court really come in handy in his job, too. For one, there’s his ability to be a great team player. “Being part of different basketball teams over the past 15+ years has shown me what you can accomplish when you work together. It has taught me to collaborate with others under all circumstances, and it’s made me realize how great it feels to achieve goals together – it’s honestly the most satisfying experience. I love that our Local IT Demand team has that same collaborative nature. There are nine of us and we’re all responsible for our own projects. But we’re very involved in whatever the others are doing and we’re always willing to help each other out. I’ve never worked in an environment that is as friendly, warm and welcoming before.” 

Another trait that he developed through basketball but finds useful at work too, is his driven and competitive nature. “I’m not competitive with my colleagues, of course,” he smiles. “But if there’s an issue to be solved or a challenge to be tackled, I won’t rest until I find a solution. Am I a sore loser? I certainly used to be when I was younger. I would be sad for the rest of the day after losing a game. Now that I’m older and more mature, I’m better at dealing with losing and I think of matches as ‘just a game’. Although ultimately I’m still in it to win it. That focus and commitment makes me good at what I do.”  

What is it that Elias actually does at AB? “I am the liaison between our technical teams and business teams.  It’s my responsibility to oversee a number of exciting projects, all focused on improving AB’s supply chain efficiency. How it works is that the business teams will request a new solution or a change in a particular system. This would then need to be developed and implemented by the technical teams. My background as a mechanical engineer and my extensive experience with SAP systems enable me to speak the language of both sides. The process involves a lot of back-and-forth: when the developers have implemented a feature, the business teams will test it. If anything doesn’t work as planned, they’ll report this to me. I then go back to the developers to instruct them to make the necessary alterations, and then the business teams will test again.This could easily happen at least a dozen times. The most challenging part of my job is definitely following up with everybody, because I’m adamant that we’ll hand over deliverables on time. Yes, that makes my job stressful at times, but it also means I get the reward of seeing a project in production, unfolding exactly as planned.”   


A memorable highlight  

On the topic of rewarding experiences, Elias recalls one of the first projects he was assigned to when he joined AB in the summer of 2019. “At that time, AB was working on opening the first Home Shop Center (HSC) in Athens that was fully dedicated to online orders. It was a very important and highly strategic project. The fact that I was given this project in my first few months at the company was an enormous vote of confidence and show of trust from AB, which meant a great deal to me. What made it particularly challenging was that we needed to implement a Manhattan Warehouse Management System (WMS) for the first time. I’ll admit I had a few sleepless nights during that period. The obstacles we faced and the issues we dealt with have taught me so much and have made me better at my job in lots of different ways. The rollout in the summer of 2020 was an absolute highlight. I still look back on it with the biggest smile on my face.”   

 

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Name: Elias Sofronas (1986) 

Started working at AB Vassilopoulos: August 2019 

Studied: BA Mechanical Engineering (National Technical University of Athens, 2015)  

Hobbies: Playing basketball, watching theater and traveling 

Wake me up in the middle of the night for: A traffic-free drive through Athens (night time is the only time there’s no traffic)  

Favorite holiday destination: The Mediterranean region 

Life-changing event: When I found out I had passed my last exam at university 

Biggest source of inspiration: My father 

Best advice I’ve ever received: ‘Always be yourself’ 

 

This is my week

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