May 18, 2021

Panos Tzivanidis | The Business of Meetings Podcast

We are happy to be speaking to Panos Tzivanidis, the Director of Corporate Events and Services for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), today.

Panos has a lot to share about the power of networking, time, talent, technology, the Tokyo Olympic Games, and what is going on in the events industry.

We hope you will enjoy our conversation!

Panos Tzivanidis’s bio:

Panos Tzivanidis is the Director of Corporate Events & Services for IOC, the International Olympic Committee, widely known for the Organisation of the Olympic Games, with headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Panos and his team are responsible for a large variety of activities, including all events organized by the IOC worldwide, as well as all accommodation needs, travel, accreditation for the Olympic family for all events around the Games period, as well as the Olympic Club; the main and exclusive Hospitality area for the Olympic family, Head of States, their Top VIP & Dignitaries guests. Under his responsibility is also Facilities Management and general services for all IOC premises.

Panos has direct responsibility and decision power for a large variety of activities including all strategic marketing events organized by the International Olympic Committee worldwide. Reporting for specific projects, directly to the President and Director-General of the IOC, he is accountable for a budget of over USD 50M and a team of 88 permanent staff and over 100 contractors during major events.

Panos is responsible for the strategic planning, all operational aspects, content coordination as well as all events during and around the Olympic Games period. His role often brings him to the negotiation table with local authorities and government representatives to create a win-win situation for all parties involved.

He joined IOC in June 2013 after having spent two years as the Head of Conferences for UEFA, widely known for the organization of the Champions League, Europa League, and National teams EURO soccer tournaments, and previously having spent 11 years with SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), and organizer of Sibos, the world’s premier annual financial services event. Panos was the Head of Events at Sibos, dealing with all organizational aspects and strategic planning of the exhibition and the conference in all five continents that the Sibos event was organized.

His profession has allowed him to travel to all corners of the world becoming an expert on international relations, having represented the companies he worked for and negotiated with the highest authorities in many different countries and cultures. Panos is a great believer in the power of networking amongst the people in the events/conference & marketing industry worldwide. He is also a great believer in team spirit and its positive impact on success.

Personal motto: Those who speak, don’t know, and those who know, don’t speak.

Some background

From a young age, Panos enjoyed being in the hospitality industry, being among people, and socializing. His parents sent him to a hotel management school in Switzerland. Later, when he started working after his military service, he went into the Banqueting Department of a hotel, where he became involved with events. He realized that that was what he wanted to do, and since then, he has never left that path.

The world of sports

While living in Belgium, Panos got headhunted back to Switzerland and into UEFA. It was a challenge for him because he knew nothing about sporting events at the time. Panos was fortunate enough to organize Champions League Finals and European Cups and spend time with the big players.

Joining the IOC and the Olympic Movement

Being Greek, Panos felt that it was a tremendous opportunity for the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and the Olympic Movement.

The mix of time, talent, and technology

Panos believes that if you miss one of what he calls “The Three T’s” (time, talent, and technology), nothing is happening. He feels that those three T’s are vital in all industries.

Time is valuable

Time is valuable. Over the last few years, every individual from the participants to the organizers, started realizing that the time that they invest is valuable and will give them a return.

Time well spent

Panos wanted people to leave his events feeling fulfilled and knowing that their time was well-spent. That has not changed since COVID.

Panos Tzivanidis’s thoughts on technology

Panos believes that technology is moving so fast that the events industry will always have followers. For him, technology is not about following. It is about sometimes taking small risks.

Talent

Talent in the events industry has always been a challenge. Panos feels that is because there is a problem with defining the events industry and marketing it. Young people want to know what the events industry is all about and why they should get into it.

Empowering the younger generation

Panos feels that the events industry is not empowering the younger generation because they may not take the initiative and do things differently.

Things are changing

Things are changing, so we need to adapt. The President of the IOC uses the motto of “change, or be changed.”

Do things differently

People should have the right to think and do things differently. Management, and team leaders, should also be trusted to live up to what they say.

A misconception

There is a misconception that the younger generations are constantly behind screens and do not care about human interaction. Panos believes that they are capable of communicating in a way that the older generations cannot understand.

Hybrid

The world will never be completely virtual in years to come. It will be hybrid. Panos thinks that many good things will come out of hybrid.

Ecology and the planet

In the future, new ways will have to be found for airlines to fuel themselves. Like biofuels, for example.

What Panos Tzivanidis has to say about networking

Networking will become easier, according to Panos. New technology will allow for the possibility for people to interact better and in more spontaneous ways.

Emotions

People need emotions. With events and big groups of people, Panos has not yet found a way to create the same emotions as those created in one-to-one conversations. That is why he thinks that physical networking will always be most important.

The museum

The museum had to close due to the coronavirus. When the coronavirus measures became more relaxed, however, and the museum reopened, Panos could see that many people were eager and willing to visit, even with the coronavirus restrictions in place. He attributes that to the emotions that the museum evokes. The museum had the same number of visitors as in any normal year recently, even with the restaurants and outlets closed due to COVID-19.

Tokyo

They have been pumping up everything to do with Tokyo in the museum.

Tokyo Olympics

Many people from all over the world are busy gearing up for the Tokyo Olympics, even though it will be different because of COVID-19. The priority is the safety and wellbeing of the athletes because the Olympic Games are essentially about the athletes.

Connect with Panos Tzivanidis

On Website

On LinkedIn

On Twitter

Book mentioned:

Humanocracy by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini

Links to some interesting videos:

The Greatest Show on Earth | IBTM Meets: Panos Tzivanidis

Olympians and Meeting Professionals – not so different after all 

2019 inspirational graduation speech: Panos Tzivanidis, from Les Roches to the International Olympic Committee   – Video starts at 15:00

International & European Associations Congress

Grimaldi marketing

Greek Marketing Institute (in Greek)

Connect with Eric: On LinkedIn | On Facebook | On Instagram | Website

If you’d rather watch the video of this interview, subscribe on YouTube

About the author 

Eric Rozenberg

For two decades, Eric Rozenberg has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and produced conferences in more than 50 countries across diverse industries. His focus is creating meetings that are not only breathtakingly memorable but which bring corporate strategies to life and amplify team motivation/performance.

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