2022 MBA To Watch: Georgios Matolis, Warwick Business School

Georgios (George) Matolis

Warwick Business School

“Lifelong learner. Striving for the best version of myself. Always looking to positively impact others.”

Hometown: Cardiff, Wales

Fun fact about yourself: After three or so years of being told that wearing a tie was not necessary in the workplace, I had an award named after me at the PwC Christmas party – the ‘George Matolis best dressed’ award. The award has become an annual feature and is still handed out!

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Bath, Economics.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? PwC, Assurance Manager – Banking & Capital Markets

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? n/a

Where will you be working after graduation? As yet, this has not been determined.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

I co-founded the Warwick MBA 5-a-side football (soccer) club to bring together people from various cohorts in an informal setting. I coordinated participation in the annual cross-MBA tournament, where we networked with other teams from the UK and Europe’s top business schools including LBS, INSEAD and HEC.

I collaborated with local hostels and volunteers to provide short-term accommodation for homeless people in the local community, avoiding over 110 nights of ‘rough sleeping’. After hearing one story in particular, I was left questioning some of my own assumptions about homelessness; Chris shared his story with me, explaining how he had lost his job as an administrative assistant. He initially thought that it would be easy to pick up another job. With little in the way of savings or family support, he eventually had his home repossessed. It had taken him weeks of rough sleeping to overcome his pride and seek help. By the time we had finished speaking, it was clear to see the relief that came with having been able to speak to someone about his situation. We exchanged contact details and I offered to be a second pair of eyes in his search for employment – my meeting with Chris was a reminder of how privileged I am to have been able to attend business school. I also set up after class tutoring to help peers from non-finance backgrounds with concepts covered in the accounting and finance classes.

I came runner-up in the 2021 WBS Strategy challenge and am an Honors student.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Coming runner-up in the 2021 WBS Strategy Challenge for our work addressing the strategic issues facing Beyond Meat. These included responding to threats from big players entering the market using the Judo Strategy techniques (‘Leverage your opponent’s assets’) and improving margins by increasing the proportion of direct-to-consumer online sales. Bringing together a collection of individuals from vastly different backgrounds to become an effective team captured the essence of business school – learning the art of situational leadership and how to harness the strength that comes with diversity (along with bringing together learnings from strategy, operations, marketing and finance).

It also gave me the impetus to go out into the local community and share information about how meal choices can positively impact the environment, such as purchasing products that have water footprint and carbon footprint a fraction the size of conventional products.   This resulted in securing pledges from over 60 people who were willing to substitute at least one meal a week for a more environmentally friendly alternative. What I found was that most people didn’t realise how even small changes could, if followed consistently, have a considerable impact – once they were given easy to digest example, I was pleasantly surprised at how open they were to making a change. Having had a change in my routine since going to business school, I’ve become more mindful own my own habits as a consumer – being given Beyond Meat for the Strategy Challenge was the push that I needed to go out and try to drive change beyond just my own habits.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work closely with a family-run start-up in the hospitality sector. I’ve helped to structure the company’s finances, created financial models and business plans to raise over £150k in finance, demonstrating the viability of the business in a number of stressed scenarios, and detailed a roadmap for scaling the business to having a nationwide footprint. I also supported in investment appraisal that has helped them grow from a temporary ‘pop-up’ unit to now having two fixed-premises restaurants with a third in the pipeline, with revenue growing over 230% during the 3-year period.

This really brought to life the concept that ‘adding value’ has nothing to do with scale. Compared to the numbers I was used to seeing at PwC, this seemed small in scale but seeing the impact that it had on the lives of a number of individuals, I can’t think of a more meaningful project that I’ve worked on. It also aligns with my personal mantra of creating positive impact wherever you can – it’s hugely gratifying to see that you’ve made a difference!

Why did you choose this business school? Having an introspective disposition, I was drawn to Warwick’s flagship LeadershipPlus course that runs throughout the MBA. It represented an opportunity to dig deep into my personal preferences and challenge my pre-conceived notions of how people should work and lead –and what it actually means to lead. It also promised the opportunity to develop soft skills in non-conventional settings, with challenges ranging from external client projects to role-playing with professional actors to time-pressured blind-folded situational challenges.

It’s helped me to become comfortable adopting different leadership styles depending on the situation rather than just reverting to my natural preference. I’m also more mindful of discovering what motivates an individual, and of how important this is to know if you want to lead than just direct. As a leader, I feel much better equipped to empower others and to transfer authority to where it can most effectively be used.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? John Colley. Being a professor of practice, John’s lectures felt a little different – he made it very clear when he thought you were wide of the mark and the challenges directed towards you reminded me more of being grilled by a Board of Directors than of a student-professor discussion! This style made his classes easily the most engaging on the course; I left class each week with plenty of food for thought, with peers having shared their (often strongly-held) opinions based on their previous experiences in the workplace. One of the most keenly debated issues was around the future of Uber and whether such a platform business can generate profits over the long-term.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? It was celebrating holidays and events from the various cultures represented at the business school through the Cultural Society. These events embodied the spirit of our cohort – over the duration of the course, we’d become akin to an adopted family and these events made sure that each of us felt seen, heard and connected. Not to mention, we discovered the chefs-in-waiting that were scattered throughout the cohort and got to try all manner of wonderful authentic dishes and drinks that people brought along. As the only individual in the cohort with Greek-Cypriot heritage, I enjoyed being able to cook traditional Mediterranean dishes such as moussaka and dolmades at one of these events.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have pushed myself to sign up for the WBS Global Mentoring Programme. At times in business school, you feel as though you’re simply spread too thin. Being conscious that what you get out of the programme is dependent on what you put in, I didn’t feel that I could put enough in to justify signing up. In hindsight, I’d have signed up first and then worried about finding the extra time from somewhere.

Approaching the end of business school can be daunting when considering the next steps in your career. Not only will you likely have had your existing ideas (about career progression) challenged but having made such a big investment in yourself, you can’t help but feel the pressure of making the right decision. I’ve often turned to family, friends and more experienced colleagues when facing such decisions and I feel that I’d have benefited from an impartial mentor. Having spoken with others who’ve been involved with the programme, it’s the thought that goes into the matching process that really sets the relationship up for success.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That you have to go to London to have fun! It couldn’t be further from the truth – between hidden-gem authentic restaurants, live football (soccer) at 6 of the UK’s top stadiums, axe-throwing bars, historic cathedrals, castles and arts festival there’s so much going on in Coventry that it was actually hard to keep up.

What surprised you the most about business school? Coming to business school, I had a preconception that there was such a thing as an archetypical business school candidate and that there would be a dominant set of consultant-like behaviors on display. The reality is that there’s no such thing. From pilots to fighter jet engineers to recording artists, I was pleasantly surprised to see the same tasks and case studies framed and re-framed in so many different ways.

With the majority of my professional experience to date coming in one environment (PwC), I’m grateful that business school has allowed me to work with people from so many different backgrounds – the ability to shift between mental models is one of the most important lessons that I’ve taken from the experience. In the context of managing a team, I had too often in the past found myself charged with making the final decision when we hit an obstacle. Being able to break this mental model, or way of thinking, has allowed me to see other alternatives, for instance communicating intent and challenging the team to instead take the decision.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Being authentic in the interview. I shared examples about formative challenges that I had faced both in my personal and professional life leading up to the point of applying to business school. For instance, I shared how, as a new manager, I’d helped a colleague through a difficult period where he had suffered a bereavement. I explained how I had myself felt overwhelmed at the time and unprepared for that degree of responsibility. By not over-preparing answers, I feel that the conversation really brought to life what matters to me and where I was in my personal journey.

On reflection, I was able to be vulnerable after that connection had been made (between myself and the interviewer), explaining how I had struggled with close friends and colleagues telling me that leaving my job had been a mistake but that I still felt that going to business school would help me to achieve my career goals.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Zubair Malik. Since the very first day, I’ve seen Zubair make countless people feel immediately welcome and comfortable – I can’t quite put my finger on how he does it, but I certainly felt it the moment he greeted me in the MBA lounge. He’s incredibly insightful when he shares his thinking to the point that I’ve practically managed to write a short story based on what I’ve learnt from him. When practicing case-study interviews, he showed me how he draws lines to separate his sheet into sections for high level structure, information gathered, calculations and recommendations – it’s such a simple tip but it really helped me to refine my own approach. He’s quick to offer help and manages to make you feel empowered even when you’ve been struggling. The cohort would have been poorer for his absence!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My 97-year-old grandfather in Cyprus. As I grew older, I appreciated more and more the impact of what he had achieved. Having not had the opportunity to pursue education beyond the age of 11, his story took him from door-to-door bicycle salesman, to tailor and finally real estate broker, allowing him to put his younger siblings (and subsequently his own children) through education. Growing up, his stories sparked my interest in business, helped to instill in me an unwavering work ethic and encouraged me to first pursue economics and then business in my education.

As a door-to-door salesman, he told me how he’d continue to work even through the siesta hours (12pm – 3pm) when others considered it too hot to work – the money that he made from the additional sales ultimately resulted in him being able to take the risk of starting out as a tailor. Whenever I find myself struggling and looking for an easy way out, remembering this gives me the added motivation that I need to push ahead. To this day, I turn to him for his sage advice, for an example of how to balance physical and mental wellbeing and how to turn ambition into a force for good.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I want to become a leader known for mentoring people in my organization and more widely in my network. Reflecting on my experiences to date, some of the most important contributions to my career have come from leaders who’ve also acted as mentors. Having experienced the impact first-hand, I aspire to be able to use my career to have a similar impact for as many people as possible.

Having worked only in the UK to-date, I also have ambitions to gain international work experience. Be it setting up a new department or being asked to lead an established team, the challenge of adjusting to a different working culture is one that I’m looking forward to taking on.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has given me cause to reflect on what’s really important. In the context of my career. It’s has helped me to realise that I can’t fulfil my potential without having harmony between my professional and personal life and that my career needs to be a platform for me to live my values rather than to compromise them.

As I took on more responsibility and got busier in work, I found myself lapsing into poor eating habits, spending less time with my family, and having less energy to support my friends – I turned up a day late to a friend’s wedding weekend after missing my flight having spent too long doing work on my laptop in the airport lounge. Thankfully the first day was the rehearsal dinner and not the real thing! I now have more awareness in creating boundaries between the personal and professional and I’d now tell myself that even important work can wait at least until the plane is in the air (with me on it!).

With ways of working and doing business changing so quickly during the pandemic, it was a reminder that a career can similarly take unexpected turns and constant investment in it is a must if you don’t want to be left behind.

What made George such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022? (

“George’s organizational abilities and attention to detail have been a great asset to his MBA colleagues. His calm approach to challenges and problem-solving make George a positive force in the intensity of a full-time MBA.

George is ambitious and also keen to give back to society. Outside of his career George has given up his time to help undergraduates at Bath and Cardiff University, tutoring them on corporate finance and economics and passing on his experience and expertise from the world of finance.

Challenging conventional thinking is not uncommon for George and I am sure his classmates appreciate ability to explain complex issues. He is a pleasure to work with and I am sure will be an asset to any company wherever George looks to move next in his career.”

Karen Barker
Director of Recruitment and Marketing


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