Welcome back to our B2BeeMembers series! Today, we introduce you to a bona fide steel tycoon! But don’t go picturing a stuffy older man in a three-piece suit—this steel tycoon is not that. Anna Kamaridis is a vibrant businesswoman who’s been busy putting the Greek steel industry on the map! She has been successfully leading Kamaridis GlobalWire Group through the rough terrain of emerging international markets for nearly two decades.
Anna took some time away from signing deals on exports such as roll-formed metal sheets, composite slabs and wire products to tell us what it’s like to be a woman in the Greek steel industry, what advice she has for other businesswomen who are thinking about expanding into international markets, and what International Women’s Day 2021 means to her and her country.
You’re the owner and vice president of Kamaridis GlobalWire Group, a company that’s been prominent in the Greek steel industry for decades. Can you tell us what you love about your company and about working in the steel industry?
I have been in the family business for almost 20 years officially and another 20 years unofficially! I love it unconditionally. I was raised in it—no other choice! Today, from my position as the Vice President of the Board of Directors, I enjoy managing the Kamaridis GlobalWire Group’s overseas sales, marketing, and communications departments. I strongly support my company’s promotion in highly demanding times and work hard to help Greece position itself on the global industrial map with high-quality industrial products.
The steel industry, both in Greece and elsewhere, is typically led and staffed by men. Can you tell us what it’s like to be a woman at the center of a male-dominated industry?
I would say it’s interesting! Social stereotypes treat the dynamic woman ruthlessly, the emotional woman as overly sensitive, the ambitious woman as harsh, and the woman who cares for her family as indifferent to her career. But in my professional experience, I have never felt like an exception. I was never excluded. I always put a real focus on doing my job, on daily learning, on trying to do my part. I always treat difficulties as challenges to overcome, and I believe that with empowerment, self-improvement and professionalism, you can overcome anything.
You’ve expanded Kamaridis GlobalWire Group into emerging international markets. What challenges or opportunities did you encounter?
I passed through all our departments, but none of them made me feel real passion. So I proposed a new department not common at the time: the exports department! It was March 2004 when we established our first export, and since then our exports have been increasing nonstop!
I will say, expansion in foreign markets is a game, a bet—a personal bet. But it’s not a sure thing. Kamaridis GlobalWire Group has gone through many trials. We survived the Greek economic crisis in 2015 with the capital controls, and we gained great adaptability. Now we maintain our liquidity at excellent levels, and we expand and enrich our production cycle in steel products. With ingenuity and the right judgment, we continue to endure and innovate and grow. But the challenges are daily, and it is a great responsibility.
What advice would you give to women business leaders looking to expand into emerging international markets?
It’s all about hard work. Expansion into emerging markets is about focus, consistency, accuracy and good follow-up. Imagine: I realized one sale eight years after the first meeting! So my advice is to insist and insist and never give up. There’s a Japanese proverb that says, “fall down seven times, get up eight.” It is right!
You’re a member of ICC Women Hellas—a group within the Greek chapter of the International Chamber of Commerce that’s dedicated to empowering women. Can you tell us about your work there and why you got involved?
The President of ICC Hellas, Mr. Petros Doukas, proposed, I said yes, and we started working together two years ago. I got involved because I believe, and we all believe, that a woman can do anything. But women are underrepresented in the business sector. For instance, in Europe, women make up only 30% of start-up entrepreneurs. So Mr. Petros Doukas appointed Mrs. Marina Giavroglou as President of ICC Women Hellas to coordinate working groups on various issues of entrepreneurship, equality, and art. Now, together with Niki Giavroglou, we work to empower women to be entrepreneurs, to bring women into boards of directors, to bring quotas and specific policies to promote women’s participation in corporate processes, to eliminate the wage gap, and to bring women to the Ministerial Council in Greece.
This month, the world is celebrating International Women’s Day 2021. Can you tell us what, if anything, IWD 2021 means to you?
It means a lot. This month is important in Greece for a couple reasons. In March, my country celebrates 200 years of independence. We remember the Greek War of Independence and pay tribute because, as the Greek poet Giorgos Seferis said, “To erase a part from the past is like erasing an equal part from the future.” We know that by studying our past, we can draw new paths. But now, we are doing that with women just as IWD 2021 is happening. In Greece now we have the Me Too movement. This was a taboo issue, but we have finally opened a conversation about gender roles, discrimination, power dynamics and everyday sexism in Greek society. So, for IWD 2021, I wish for strong bonds between women because we all rise by lifting each other.