Senior Director Analyst, Gartner
- International Management MSc, 2008
Yanni Karalis, International Management MSc, 2008, and Senior Director Analyst at research and advisory firm Gartner tells us how a bumpy start to his career at the height of the financial crisis shaped him as a leader and led him to an unexpected career in a field he loves.
How did your studies help you in your first roles as a graduate?
My BA was in political science and international relations and I wanted to get into a good business-related program. My MSc at King’s helped me gain knowledge of business strategy, finance and HR that was tremendous help in my first role as I had a good idea on how corporations operate.
You did your MSc in 2008, so you must have known you’d be graduating into a very difficult job market. How did that feel?
It was a stressful time, but I tried to not think about it too much as I preferred to focus on what I could control. I tried to stay optimistic and concentrated on getting a job in London. I just wanted to start my career and I was excited to get out there; I did not have fixed expectations.
I had mock interviews and networked. On top of that I got advice and support from my marketing professor and from the careers service and got an internship during my studies with a creative design firm where I put some of my learnings in practice. I then got an opportunity to study for a PhD at King’s and took it.
Unfortunately, the economic crisis became very deep in Greece where I am from and I had to go back and support our family business. What I learned was that you need to adjust to circumstances and sometimes go with the flow.
Do you think that starting your career at such a challenging time has shaped you as a leader?
You learn how to handle your emotions, deal with rejection because it keeps coming your way and definitely to operate under stress. It is one of those things that I don’t wish anyone to go through as it is tough but there is a positive side to it when you look back and you realize that it taught you empathy, willingness to help, mentor and support younger professionals and made you wiser about life in general.
Tell us about procurement as a career
I am very happy that I found myself in this career path. It came my way and I fell in love with it and now can’t see myself in another space.
Procurement and especially technology procurement is a very exciting space. You get to wear many “hats”. You do financial analysis, you influence business strategy, you learn about technology and digital transformation, you negotiate very important contracts, and you are in the forefront of a company’s efforts to use its money effectively and create value out of their investments.
Sustainability and CSR are becoming very important in procurement as a new generation of consumers demand that companies be more responsible. For corporations it is becoming a competitive advantage.
Do you have any advice for current and future students at King’s Business School?
You are at the beginning of the journey, it can be scary, at times you will get disappointed and there are constant ups and downs but it is just the start. Nothing that you will choose now can determine who you will become or what you will achieve.
Having dreams is key, but building a step by step plan will get you there and the first step is getting a job. Don’t think about companies and roles, think about where can you learn and grow and that will open up a wider range of opportunities than you can imagine.
The CEO of my first company told me something that I keep telling every young professional when they are looking for a job; don’t go hunting for a job, go fishing for one. What he meant was that you need to start somewhere and everything will fall into place if you keep growing and putting in the necessary effort.