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HABA Celebrate Its 40th Anniversary and Honors the Late Constantine Iordanou as Executive of the Year

By on July 11, 2024

On Wednesday, June 5th, 2024, HABA (The Hellenic Association for Professionals in Finance) honored Constantine (Dinos) Iordanou, Chairman of Vantage Group, as “Executive of the Year” at their 40th anniversary celebration and 2024 Executive of the Year Award Dinner, which was held at the Union League Club in NYC.

Board of HABA and Honoree

Board of HABA and Honoree; PHOTO: ETA PRESS

The program began with welcoming remarks provided by financial journalist Nicole Petallides, the event’s emcee, who expressed her great enthusiasm for being there for a “well-deserving honoree”, reminiscing about her childhood experience of him. She then introduced HABA’s president Chris Thomas who noted it was a full house with a sold out event. He acknowledged several dignitaries and prominent members of the Greek and Greek Cypriot community that were in attendance including US-Cyprus Chamber of Commerce President Mary Pappas, US Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, NY Court of Appeals Associate Judge Madeline Singas, Stella Lymberis MD, Judge Michael Hartofilis, Emmanuel Caravanos, President of the Pancyprian Association and PSEKA, Phillip Christopher, and the President of the Federation of Cypriot Organizations Kyriakos Papavasiliou. He then introduced HABA Treasurer Costas Kellas who thanked all the benefactors and supporters who sponsored the event, as well as lifetime members John Catsimatidis, George Handjinicolaou, Georgia Mouzakis, James Orphanides, and Nancy Papaioannou.

Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis with Dino Iordanou

Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis with Dino Iordanou; PHOTO: ETA PRESS

Phillip Christopher was asked to come up to the podium and say a few words. In his remarks, he noted that the main reason for the event was that we will be commemorating the fiftieth dark anniversary of the invasion of Cyprus next month on July 20th, and it was important to have a Greek Cypriot executive honored who exemplifies the best in all of us. He emphasized that the honoree’s parents, Philip and Iphigenia Iordanou, like many Greek immigrants, came to the US with their children for a better education and future, which became a necessity for them after the invasion of Cyprus. Mr. Christopher recalled the story of how he first met the honoree Constantine (Dinos) Iordanou for the first time: “I met Dinos at NYU for the first time. The famous head soccer coach George Vargas who was also the coach of the All-American team, came up to me and said there is a young Cypriot, he is very fast and his legs are like two by fours, and don’t get in front of him.” He also talked about how Dinos worked at a delicatessen to put himself through school and had a great memory, remembering customer orders. Mr. Christopher paid homage to the late Nikos Mouyiaris who hailed from the same village as Dinos and was helpful to his family with immigration matters. Mr. Christopher went on to talk about how Dinos was a soccer player and used that talent to join the Pancyprian soccer team as the center forward, a team that was formed by eleven young Cypriots as a team that would promote and protect Cyprus: “Every time we scored a goal we scored a goal for freedom for Cyprus, and that’s why were called the New York Pancyprian Freedoms. We went on to Cyprus and filled the stadiums, and instead of keeping the proceeds, we gave all the money to the refugees.” The New York Pan Cyprian Freedoms that Dinos was a founder of produced 6 national championships. Mr. Christopher also highlighted the honoree’s generosity: “Dinos has always contributed. Through the Pancyprians, he has funneled thousands of dollars to Greek causes and Cyprus causes. In the village where he was born he rebuilt the church, he rebuilt the hospitals, and rebuilt many cultural events.” He also mentioned that on August 5th, there will be an unveiling of the statue of Nikos Mouyiaris that was donated by Dinos in the village of Athienou where both men grew up. Mr. Christopher acknowledged Dinos’ sense of pride and humility for his Cypriot background: “As he rose the ladder of success, he never forgot his roots, he never forgot his heritage, he never forgot his culture…we are here to honor Dinos Iordannou not only for his success but for the main causes he represents.” Mr. Christopher also made it a point to mention that the following week he and Dinos will be in Washington DC for the PSEKA conference as they commemorate the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Cyprus and that they will be there with congressional leaders. He also expressed his enthusiasm for the presence of US Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis who is a strong advocate for the Cypriot community and the President of the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations, Kyriakos Papastylianou, also present that evening. He ended his remarks by emphasizing that Dinos helped many qualified Greek-American kids get started in their careers, “even if they were not qualified.”

Philip Christopher

Philip Christopher; PHOTO: ETA PRESS

Mr. Christopher then welcomed US Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis who came all the way from Washington DC to present a proclamation, citing her many accomplishments fighting for the Cyprus cause and for every Greek cause and stated that: “Today she is fighting for the lifting of the embargo on Cyprus.”

Demetris Papakostas and Dr. Stella Lymberis

Demetris Papakostas and Dr. Stella Lymberis; PHOTO: ETA PRESS

Greg Hendrick, CEO of Vantage Group, also came up to the podium to say a few words. He talked most fondly about “the three Dinos” he knew – Dinos the businessman, Dinos the educator, and Dinos the family man: “Dinos has had great success as a businessman. He and his wife Marianne have done so much great work for education, and he is such a wonderful family man.”

Members of Dino's family and friends

Members of Dino’s family and friends; PHOTO: ETA PRESS

After a pause for photos with the honoree, it was time for the honoree himself to speak. Dinos Iordanou came up to the podium and thanked his family, his brothers Michael and George and his wife Marianne also present, as well as his good friends Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis and Phillip Christopher. He recalled the story that Congresswoman Malliotakis told about coming to the US with 200 dollars in his pocket. He also talked about his father’s strict principles that he bestowed onto his children. He mentioned his father’s faith and wisdom, and how much it influenced him. His father told him when he goes home at night he should pray and thank god everyday for whatever he gave him, whether it is a slice of bread with two olives or whatever it was he gave him. He also told him to ask himself two questions: “What did you learn today? And what have you done to help another human being?”  To his father these questions meant if you didn’t do anything, it was a wasted day, and if you didn’t help someone, you didn’t do your duty as a human being. These were important questions he would learn to ask himself on his journey. He then went on to talk about success and how it can be attained: “Success doesn’t come easy. It comes with what you learn at home, hard work, and putting in a lot of effort. In my business career I was both lucky and also I was a student of learning because I was taught as such by my parents.” He then talked about his career and how the “luckiness” happened. He was able to work for AIG for eleven years and then had the opportunity to work for Warren Buffet. He described his years at Berkshire Hathaway as “the only university where I was getting paid and learning at the same time.”  He then talked about how he was able to apply his experience to Zurich Financial and as one of the founders and creators of Arch Capital which brought him to start Vantage Risk Holdings: “If you can do it once. You can do it twice. You can do it three times.” He cited one of the key takeaways he learned from his years at Berkshire Hathaway, which was the Warren Buffet philosophy of “bet on people. If you don’t have good people nothing can be implemented.” Then he emphasized the importance of teamwork by referencing ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. He drew upon their writings to emphasize the importance of knowing your team members goals, strengths, and weaknesses: “Only then as a manager, as an Executive, you can find the best ways to engage them, position them in the right roles, support them, and guide them towards meaningful work that will achieve optimal results for themselves and for the team.” Collaboration, he mentioned, was the other key to success.   He referenced the idea that “two minds are better than one…if you can allow that collaboration to exist, you eliminate the defects in decision-making….collaboration also allows for the transfer of knowledge from one person to another.” He also stated that the third key to success is execution: “Good ideas without good execution don’t mean anything.”  He concluded his speech with the idea of culture as the key to success for any organization: “At the end of the day the biggest and the most important element of a chief executive is to make sure there is the right culture within your organization that  rewards the people, their knowledge, their ability, their expertise, and that he promotes and celebrates teamwork and allows for collaboration to happen within the organization, and makes  sure that execution does happen. Most importantly it is to create a culture where there is a balance between the work obligation that all of us as individuals have versus our family organizations…if we have this balance we will succeed in business.”

Dinos Iordanou and his wife Marianne; PHOTO: ETA PRESS

Dinos Iordanou and his wife Marianne; PHOTO: ETA PRESS

We at NEO are deeply saddened to have heard of his sudden untimely passing at the time of publication of this article.

Mr. Iordanou led a lifelong career of exemplary work in the insurance industry which have earned him many accolades. He was the founding member of the Pancyprian Association of America, and FAITH, a charitable organization committed to the education advancement of Greek-Americans. In 1999, Mr. Ioardanou was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and in 2017 he was the recipient of Reactions Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also named one of Fortune Magazine’s top 50 businesspersons of the year in 2015, Institutional Investor’s best insurance industry Mid Corp CEO in 2017, and Leader of the year at St. John’s University School of Risk Management in 2017. Mr. Iordanou held an impressive career for over 42 years in the insurance industry with previous roles as Chairman and CEO of Arch Capital Group Inc.  and leadership positions at Zurich Financial Services, Berkshire Hathaway Group, Columbia Insurance Company, and American International Group.  He also served on the Board of Directors of Verisk Analytics, was a senior independent director of The Bank of the Bank of Cyprus, and was Chairman of the Board of Vantage Risk Holdings. He held a degree in Aerospace Engineering form New York University.  He leaves behind his wife Marianne and three daughters, as well as two brothers Michael and George who are pediatricians.

About Athena Efter