A Conversation with Vasilis Kafatos, Deloitte Partner

A Conversation with Vasilis Kafatos, Deloitte Partner

November 8, 2019 1 By Kody Olson


Good afternoon from the Singularity University offices in Athens, where we are joined by Vasilis Kafatos, Deloitte Partner. Vasilis welcome! Good afternoon Niki, I am glad to join you today. I am glad too, and I want to ask you Vasilis: last year you were our very close partners, and a Platinum Partner and you attended it for the first time. I remember discussing with you how Singularity Summit is different from other Summits that take place. What did you think of the SU Summit? Singularity University Summit in Athens in 2018 brought to the forefront and started a dialogue in Greece
about the future of technology, the future of markets, the future of the economy,
and the changes that will affect us. More importantly, it came at a very critical moment for Greece, when Greece was still in the fiscal adjustment program after the crisis, and it was quite inward-looking…
and Singularity opened a window, a window to look outwards, and a bit further away. Singularity gave us a vision of a future that is very interesting, with opportunities, vastly different but also much closer than we believe. Above all,
it gave us the opportunity to envision the world in 10-20 years, and as we returned to our offices, to start planning,
with immediate actions that can bring us a bit closer to that future. Vasilis, perhaps not everyone watching knows that we had
the good luck, several years ago, to be classmates in Austin, Texas,
where we graduated in 1993 from our MBA. I remember then, the internet was just arriving. You remember going down to the huge computers (main frame)
to send a few words, and it had just started happening: companies were starting to adopt it, so the world when we graduated was very different from today. So I have two questions for you: First, given technology changes so drastically and quickly, how do you believe that one can make sure not to fall behind? How can they keep up with this quick pace? We had a conversation with Dimitris Koutsopoulos earlier, and he said that ‘’Change will never be so slow again’’,
and that’s a really incredible phrase. How can we then be upraised with technology and developments? First of all, when you realize that when we were in university,
the internet was not around, I think our generation adapted very well to the changes. The new generation I think will face much greater challenges
in order to face the changes that are coming. Last year at SU I asked John Hagel, one of the Deloitte speakers… yes, he was excellent with the Ζοοm-in Zoom-out… I agree… what are the critical skills that children need to develop
in order to respond to this change. He responded: “first of all, a passion for what they will choose to do,
and the boldness to imagine the future. Secondly,
adaptability in order to follow and take advantage of changes.” And I believe that the Greek educational system can become
a pillar for the new economic model of the country, had to adjust and cultivate high quality of thinking, and direct our children to exponential technologies and innovation, and above all to cultivate the ability to adapt to lifelong learning. And creativity I would add… the ability to problem solve. Amin Toufani told us this year in Silitcon Valley that “there is a problem, and you need to think of how
to coordinate science, skills, and the team in order to have a solution”. This is what we need to learn in school, not how to memorise things. I fully agree. And of course, young people are very important to every country,
and to Greece. We know how much… approximately 500000 young people left and we essentially want to keep young people here,
and bring the ones you left back. As a Platinum Partner, Deloitte along with all our partners, have helped to give the opportunity to over 100 young people
from Greece to attend the Summit for free, and you also give the opportunity for a livestream to all schools,
universities and research centers for free. What is your aim in doing this? Deloitte today is globally the largest professional service provider,
mainly because we invested in innovation. Over 50% of our services are about innovative services
which did not exist 10-15 years ago. Such as? Digital , Analytics, Innovational Process. This growth was based on talented young people,
so young people are at the center of Deloitte, and will be the future partners who will take the company even further. What matters to us most is investing in young people As you know, in 2018 we created in Thessaloniki a European… And you are from Thessaloniki, as am I! and I am very happy about this… the Deloitte Alexander Competent Center, a European know-how center, where we invest and develop innovative services
and young talented partners. I am especially glad that this initiative was then
also adopted by other multinationals who are developing similar research and innovation centers. Pfizer? yes, and many others, and this is creating a chain reaction… positive chain reaction… Positive yes, they will follow, they will respond to the
increased demand by young employees, and you can see how this creates a virtuous cycle of development, which creates great opportunities for the country. Great opportunities for the country to invest in youth, to invest
in education, to become a center of innovation, and above all to change the economic model so we can take a leap forward and lead the changes
that are taking place. So, Vasilis, do you people come to the Deloitte Alexander Center to work on Βig Data Analytics or ΑΙ, and then offer these services in Greece or around Europe? How does this work? At the Deloitte Alexander Competent Center we attract talented people from universities, and we train them in cutting edge technologies, and from their base in Thessaloniki they work on very complex
and groundbreaking projects in Greece and Europe more widely. And across Europe! Wonderful and very important. Thank you for all you shared with us today. And thank you to you and to Deloitte for being such brilliant partners. Thank you Niki very much.