Conference sneak preview

“Africa is developing fast – we are helping it to move even faster”

Litsa Panayotopoulos

Litsa Panayotopoulos, Managing Director of the OTEAcademy S.A, is a “global player.” Based in Greece, she received her academic training in London and has worked in the U.S. as well as in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for many years. Currently she is playing a major role in the fast growing sector of corporate training and distance learning in several parts of the world. Litsa Panayotopoulos has been appointed to the Advisory Committee of eLA. At this year’s conference in Zambia, the OTEAcademy will present its specific business model.

by Andrea Marshall

Litsa Panayotopoulos has run the OTEAcademy since it was set up as a member of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation in 2005. It provides continuous human resources development and corporate training in a wide range of fields: leadership, management, sales, information technology, culture change, languages, to name just a few. Activities are coordinated and carried out both nationally and internationally in Athens and Thessaloniki by 45 employees. Although only founded in 2005, the Academy’s achievement is impressive:

“Over the last three years, more than 300 instructors have delivered over 350,000 hours of training for more than 25,000 participants in more than 20 countries”, Litsa Panayotopoulos says with pride. “We assist businesses to transform into world-class calibre.”

Video conferencing over the World Bank’s network

In Africa, Litsa Panayotopoulos and her staff have so far offered training to more than 1,000 professionals in Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Benin, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal. These training sessions are conducted in English and French.

“Our method is efficient and cost-effective”, Panayotopoulos points out. The seminars are held by international instructors in the organisation’s headquarters in Athens and broadcast with the latest video conferencing technology to Africa. Participants attend the seminars in classrooms belonging to the Association of African Distance Learning Centres (AADLC), which the World Bank established, and the World Bank’s Global Distance Learning Network is used in the process. For example, courses on “Project Management” or “Executive Assistants’ Skills Development” are delivered to attendees in Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia or other countries. Up to a hundred students in geographically separate areas can participate simultaneously.

Litsa Panayotopoulos makes a point that the programmes are not delivered “top-down” but promote active participation: “The students can ask the instructor questions, their fellow students can listen to the questions and the answers, and they can also communicate online.”

“Unique business model”

“Our business model is unique”, says Litsa Panayotopoulos, who holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science, but switched to a managerial position early in her career. The OTEAcademy is a partner of the African Distance Learning Centres and assists the Centres to promote activities in their home markets and make their own money. “We have a business relationship with them, but we are not trying to make a big profit”, Litsa Panayotopoulos stresses. “We are building capacity through successful cooperation.”

The Africa connection

But why did Litsa Panayotopoulos develop an interest in Africa? After her academic training at the University of London, she worked for several multinational companies in the United States. Later she established subsidiaries for Oracle in Greece, in the Balkans (Bulgaria, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia) and in Cyprus. “My first contact with Africa was when I worked for the U.S. computer company Control Data Corporation. For almost one year I was operating in Nigeria”, Litsa Panayotopoulos explains. “It was there that I realised that Africa is growing fast, and that we can help to make it move even faster.”

When the OTEAcademy first started its activities in Africa, Litsa Panayotopoulos was able to benefit from her Nigerian experience. Her organisation was selected exclusively by the World Bank to establish distance learning in African countries. And at the eLearning Africa conferences, Litsa Panayotopoulos has chaired several sessions.alised that Africa is growing fast, and that we can help to make it move even faster.”

Her next aim is to expand further into Asia. And her hobbies? Besides classical music, art and theatre she is devoted to travelling the world. Litsa Panayotopoulos is clearly a world class player.

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