News and Events
Graziadio Professor Demos Vardiabasis Skypes Greek Government to Discuss Debt Crisis
Presidents and Key Executives (PKE) MBA C-Level students in professor Demos Vardiabasis' class were treated to an extraordinary surprise guest this spring. Demos arranged for a minister in the Greek government to Skype into class for a live frank and informal Q&A regarding the debt crisis seizing the country and sending shockwaves across the European Union.
The minister shed light on what the Greek people themselves thought, why the crisis precipitated, the constraints on the government to fix the problem, what kind of help Greece was receiving from the EU, and the forecast for the crisis' end. "The call improved my understanding of the debt crisis by providing underlying insights on why this was occurring in Greece first," said Ken Huening (PKE MBA '12), a vice president at semiconductor manufacturer Maxim Integrated Products.
At the time, Eurozone officials had just approved a multi-billion dollar bailout and a related debt-restructuring program to put the debt-laden country on sustainable footing. Greece faced increasing skepticism from Germany, the Netherlands, and other wealthier nations regarding the country's capacity to overcome its debt crisis. The political situation in Athens had been deteriorating for months. A growing number of voices criticized the government's implementation of austerity and its overhaul program and openly questioned whether the country should receive additional financial assistance to stave off default.
Huening was surprised to learn how much other countries benefited from Greek's austerity measures, particularly nations that are doing well like Germany. "The crisis was allowing the Euro to remain lower than it would be if [Germany and wealthier countries] were not in the EU. This is allowing them to continue to perpetuate a favorable economic environment and low currency value. As a result they sell more goods," he learned.
Regarding the cause of the crisis, Linda Lore (PKE MBA '12), CEO and president at technology firm C@TALYST9, added that, "It was alarming to learn that a high number of public/government employees are essentially protected from ever losing their jobs regardless of their performance."
The classroom opportunity to discuss important issues with an official directly involved is commonly wished for but rarely achieved. For Huening, reading case studies written from several perspectives would not have produced the same experience. "It was a very efficient way of getting to the core of an issue and reviewing possible outcomes and scenarios," he remarks. "It was incredibly informative and a unique opportunity."
Lore concurs, "Demos Vardiabasias has such an amazing grasp on the world economy and a wonderful way of teaching. This was one of his many credible connections and he shared with his students, allowing us to learn about a relevant situation and its impact on the global economy. This is the very reason the PKE program is held in such high esteem."