Michaela Plaka - British Council Award Finalist

Michaela Plaka

Michaela Plaka (MA Environmental Management and Consultancy, 2012) was chosen as a finalist in the British Council's annual Alumni award ceremony in Greece in the Business and Innovation category. Here she talks about her life in Greece, her time at Lancaster and her achievements in her career to date.

"I started out in Athens, Greece. My father is an internationally educated entrepreneur, and my mother was a successful account director in a male-dominated advertising industry. I always wanted to follow in their footsteps, so I studied at an English-speaking university in Athens, and in my final year of my college degree, I was lucky enough to participate at a marketing research project of the Coca-Cola company, for the Special Olympics 2011. That’s when I was first introduced to Ecoist – an eco-friendly accessories brand that was working with some on the best-known international brands to help them repurpose their faulty packaging and transform it to branded fashion items, rather than let them end up in landfills. That was the moment I realised the power of branding and marketing in any Environmental effort, and consequently decided to further explore the impact of Marketing for the benefit of Ecology. Hence, after researching my options in relevant studies, I decided to pursue my Master's degree in Environmental Management & Consultancy at Lancaster University in the UK which was a hybrid degree of both fields. Without a doubt, my first year in the UK, studying in Lancaster University, was the forerunner of what was about to come: the support, the guidance, the sense of community, the countless opportunities provided to be the best version of yourself, and then be even better the next day. After completing my Master’s, pursuing a marketing career in London was a natural progression and my English education enabled me to pursue and land a series of jobs and quickly advance through the ranks of the fledgling digital advertising world. Then, whilst visiting Greece in late 2014, my UK credentials helped me land a job as the youngest account manager in McCann Athens, one of the most prestigious advertising agencies in Greece and then move on to the country's largest ad agency, Ogilvy Greece and subsequently receive several national industry awards.

When I started thinking about life after advertising, entrepreneurship was a sensible decision. Thanks to my field of studies, I had also gained a 360 degree view of business with a focus on environmental impact and how the global digital transformation has created a new, more eco friendly way to market and do business. This new reality translates to nearly all industries and markets and the wedding industry in Greece was no exception. Wedding registries in Greece have become an outdated custom, since busy and tech-savvy modern couples can't possibly allocate the time and effort to register for their wedding gifts at a physical store. The environmental impact of visiting stores as well as exchanging gifts, between the couple as well as their 200 guests, was also very significant. Eventually, I decided to launch Cordella, the first online wedding gift registry in Greece, to solve this very problem: re-imagine wedding gift giving, make it effortless, stress free and purposeful again. The work ethic and culture I have gained from my studies at Lancaster and later from my work experiences in BMB, Saatchi & Saatchi, AMV BBDO and Publicasity in London, are qualities I have carried with me ever since.

From my first work experience in Greece, to my more senior positions and from my attitude towards my first business venture to the leader I’m aiming to be tomorrow, those fruitful years in the UK are the cornerstone of who I am and will always strive to be as an individual. Qualities that I will always pass along and that will hopefully inspire others to get out of their comfort zones, chase their dreams and strive to be the best version of themselves, both professionally as well as personally."

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