In the face of a global pandemic, you might expect companies to be only focused on the actions needed to secure their own survival and safety. However, at Hellenic Petroleum – one of southeastern Europe’s largest refiner and trader of petroleum products – the pandemic has also been a time where it has used its scale and resources to make a real difference to society.

“In dealing with the pandemic, we had four very simple priorities,” explains Andreas Shiamishis. “Firstly, to maintain the health of our workforce and people who come into contact with us. Second, to maintain uninterrupted operation so that the pandemic doesn’t end up as an energy crisis. Thirdly, to focus on securing optimal working capital management. And, finally, to ensure we supported society as it dealt with this issue.”

In terms of making a difference to society, Hellenic Petroleum made a significant financial donation to Greece’s national health system, with the monies earmarked for much-needed medical equipment and supplies. But as well as its financial donation, Hellenic’s actions also strengthened the country’s ability to deal with the crisis. “We were pretty much the only organization that from day one was focused on the testing of COVID,” says Andreas Shiamishis. “In early March, we had already placed orders for very efficient testing equipment. By importing them early enough, we doubled the country’s capacity for tests.”

“Additional testing equipment received early in the summer, was placed with some of the country’s islands, in an effort to help touristic areas to cope with the pandemic,” he adds. “And we supported local communities through disinfection programs and various health and medical support initiatives.” 

This sort of pragmatic focus reflects Andreas Shiamishis’ own leadership style and his belief in the importance of leading by example. While interactions with head-office staff were conducted virtually, he felt it was important to show solidarity with his teams in the field. “When you have two-and-a-half thousand people in the field, you need to be visible,” he says. “I spend something like 3-4 days a week at our refineries and petrol stations. You cannot ask your people to do something that you yourself are not prepared to do.”

While Andreas Shiamishis is proud of the response of Hellenic and its people, he recognizes that the crisis has accelerated the need for change and transformation. “While crisis management remains a priority for the foreseeable future, the strategic transformation agenda needs to be addressed and accelerated," he added.