Here to create. From ACT to adidas and the forefront of global retailing.
Don’t compare yourself to others; persevere through the hard times; learn from everyone; be thankful and recognize the people that help you along the way. These simple and valuable lessons come from top manager and ACT Alumnus Thomas Tsotsos ’01.
Thomas Tsotsos is Senior Director Merchandising – Direct to Consumer (DTC) at adidas Germany. After graduating from ACT with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Thomas started working at Tchibo, a German chain of coffee retailers and cafés known for its weekly-changing range of products including clothing, household items, electronics and electrical appliances. In 2004 he assumed the position of Senior Planning Manager at adidas Germany and currently he is responsible for the company’s global retail buying and merchandising.
In his interview, Thomas stresses the solid education that ACT offered to him and describes the institution as a “hub of education, creativity and broadening perspectives in Northern Greece”.
Did your experience at ACT prepare you for the demanding business reality?
I am proud of my studies at ACT because they provided me with the right foundations to integrate into the business world. My first professional experience after ACT was at a large international company. I felt I was 100% ready for that and in the position to contribute and improve myself.
I have to point out that during my studies it was important to give and take as much as possible. It was not only about attending the classes. In addition to the core skills, some of the most valuable experiences came from the group work and the extra-curricular activities which simulate a small-scale business environment. These opportunities allowed me to try, fail and learn in a safe environment.
What do you remember fondly from your ACT years?
Mostly I remember the people. The long-lasting friendships and relationships with students, professors, and staff, resulted in precious memories. From an academic perspective, the small class sizes, the diverse curriculum and the intense research and project work resonated very well with me.
What are some of the greatest challenges you have overcome in your current position at adidas?
adidas Germany has been growing at an exceptional rate in the last few years. However, this positive outcome means that every year the bar is raised. It becomes harder every year to repeat past successes.
My personal challenge was that my role changed over time from heading up a regional department to leading key projects of global scope. This required a very different skill-set and I had to learn “on the job”. In hindsight, this was an often hard, but ultimately a very important challenge to take on. My key takeaway is that to grow and stay relevant in an organization of this size and reputation, you need to constantly learn and upskill yourself.
Would you like to share some words of wisdom with ACT students?
Past success doesn’t guarantee future success. You need to keep up skilling and redefining along the way. I believe that entrepreneurship is the key: a sense of ownership characterizes high achievers regardless of the role they have in an organization. In this context, I would quote my dear friend and fellow graduate Christie Kostara and urge ACT students to “find their bliss”. Your main effort should be to define clearly what you love and what you’re passionate about and then do everything possible to make it a key ingredient of your career. The term “Work-Life balance” is a term often used in corporations as a goal of successful individuals. This is much easier to accomplish when you do what you love. That’s because you can self-motivate and stay committed to personal and professional growth. It’s easier said than done, and there will be compromises along the way, but you need to think of the long-term and try always to define and stay connected to your passion. Besides that I would advise:
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Stay focused and keep building your skills for long-term success.
- Persevere throught the hard times like rejection or failure. Don’t sugarcoat them, but also don’t let them demotivate you. Self-reflect and turn them to learning opportunities that accelerate your growth.
- The professional environment is tough, it’s critical to work in alignment with your core values and maintain your integrity.
- Learn from everyone, even from people you dislike. They can offer a different perspective.
- Be thankful and recognize the people that help you along the way.
How would you describe ACT in a few words?
A hub of education, creativity and broadening perspectives in Northern Greece.