On Wednesday, May 31st, in an emotional afternoon, Mr. George Milonas, President & CEO of ALUMIL Group, surrounded by family, colleagues, and friends, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the Department of Business Administration, School of Business Administration, University of Macedonia.
The special meeting of the Department, which took place in the University's Ceremonial Hall, was attended by institutional authorities of the city and the Region, representatives of the Government, as well as official members of the Church, the Armed Forces, the Security Corps, the Diplomatic Corps, and the business community. More specifically, among the attendees of the honorary event were the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Konstantinos Zervas, the Deputy Regional Governor, Mr. Parris Bilias, the until recent Minister of Rural Development & Food, Mr. Georgios Georgantas, the President of the Federation of Industries of Greece, Mrs. Loukia Saranti, the President of the CERTH, Dr. Dimitris Tzovaras, and the President of TIF – Helexpo, Mr. Tasos Tzikas.
"A man of integrity who maintains to this day his genuine charisma and ability to inspire"
At the beginning of the event, the Rector of the University of Macedonia, Professor Stylianos D. Katranidis, gave the speech, making special reference to the personality of Mr. Milonas, stressing that he is "a man of integrity, who during his life rich in experiences, emotions and performances, maintains to this day his genuine charisma and ability to inspire". Next, the Dean of the School of Business Administration, Professor Christos Negakis, addressed that the President of ALUMIL did not follow a usual path but instead fought to achieve his dreams. At the same time, as he said, "he serves as a shining example for our students.”
“In his name, the Department honors successful entrepreneurship”
Then, it was the turn of the Head of the Department of Business Administration, Professor Vassilios Aletras, who stressed that Mr. Milonas is a distinguished member of the Greek business family, noting that in his name, the Department honors "successful entrepreneurship", as amid an unstable business environment, ALUMIL managed to achieve admirable financial results. Lastly, Mr. George Tsiotras, Professor of the Department of Business Administration and former Rector, delivered the Commendation to the honored person. Mr. Tsiotras looked back on the career of Mr. Milonas, referred to their acquaintance during their student years, his postgraduate studies at the London School of Economics, as well as his later career with ALUMIL and its emergence as a multinational Group with 30 subsidiaries and recognized excellence in a global scale. Mr. Tsiotras concluded by saying that the honoree is dedicated to his people, noting that "the name of George Milonas has been associated with aluminium, a metal that does not rust, stainless. As is his character, which remains intact and unchanged throughout the years". After the statements mentioned above, the proclamation of Mr. Milonas to Honorary Doctorate followed; he wore the academic regalia of the Department and the University's emblem with the assistance of the Head of the Department of Business Administration, Mr. Aletras. Also, he received a commemorative plaque from the Rector, Mr. Katranidis.
Then, the President & CEO of ALUMIL took the floor. The title of Mr. Milonas' speech, "Crossing the Ocean", indicated the message he wanted to convey to the audience. Beginning his remarks, Mr. Milonas expressed his pleasant surprise and the sense of responsibility that such an honor generates. In comparison to his personal journey, he noted that "the first thing they teach you when you start skiing is how to get up when you fall because you're going to fall whether you're a beginner, clueless and inexperienced, or advanced and trying to push your limits. They also teach you how not to be afraid. Fear is the most restrictive element in the way of progress, of freedom."
"You handle difficult situations, no matter how challenging they are"
He went on to briefly touch on the incident of his kidnapping in 2008 and the global financial crisis of the same year, with the collapse of Lehman Brothers. At that point, he stated that "for me, the global crisis was just a matter of dealing with it. You handle difficult situations. No matter how tough, challenging, disastrous, and whatever else they are. You don't allow them to get you down. You keep pushing forward, and you fight!".
"Our goal was not just to survive the storm but to emerge stronger from it."
Recalling the difficult and demanding period of the economic crisis, Mr. Milonas mentioned a 5-year plan that he and his team drew up back then to reorganize the company at all levels, to become more resilient, innovative, and environmentally responsible. As he pointed out, "Our goal was not just to survive the storm, but to emerge stronger from it. To cross the Ocean", increasing the emotional response in the room. "We invested in human capital (today ALUMIL employs over 3,300 people). We invested in knowledge. We believed that this is the best that a Thessaloniki company can offer to the global market", he noted. Mr. Milonas then referred to the recurring crises - health, energy, the Ukraine war - and underlined the company's ability to adapt and stand its ground despite the various challenges.
At the emotional conclusion of his speech and just before receiving warm applause from the audience of the Honorary Doctorate ceremony, the ALUMIL leader stated: "I hope that in the years that God will grant me, I will be blessed with the immense pleasure of contributing to my city, its youth, and its future because there is no greater joy than that of giving. Without expecting anything in return!".