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Vasie Papadopoulos

Fiscal and Regulatory Affairs Manager, Philip Morris International - Canada

Profile

Describe the role you play professionally.

I am the Fiscal and Regulatory Affairs Manager for Philip Morris International in Canada. The industry is highly regulated with regulatory frameworks that vary from province to province and the Federal Government and various tax acts that impact the taxation and business of the company. I focus on understanding all elements and details of these regulations and fiscal frameworks and am the intermediary between governments and my company on these matters, as well as providing advice to my company on these issues across Canada.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

The industry itself is challenging and my company is now embarking on transforming its business towards a vision of a smoke-free future. This new vision requires an understanding of what is trying to be accomplished and communicating this vision with regulators and legislators is very difficult given the industry’s history and hesitancy to engage.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?

I have had some great accomplishments professionally, but I feel that my greatest accomplishment was going to university and earning my degrees. My family places a high value on education and I was the first person in my family to go to university. What I was able to learn through higher education has been applicable to all aspects of my career, mainly critical thought and analysis, how to communicate both orally and in written form, working with people of diverse backgrounds and opinions, and delivering high quality work under stringent timelines. 

Why did you decide to do an EMBA?

I strive to be a well-rounded, strategic, and inspiring leader that leads at a C-suite level. I feel doing my executive MBA will help me grow to be that kind of leader and really teach me the tools to be able to think and lead in an executive position.

What books are on your bedside table right now?

I am an avid reader, but during my EMBA studies my focus is on our case studies and work. However, this summer break I have put together an extensive reading list and some of those titles are as follows:

Nutshell by Ian McEwan; Natural Capitalism by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins; Behold the Dreamers by Mbolo Imbue; Influencer of Change: the New Science of Leading Change by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler; Shattered by Jonathen Allen and Amie Parnes; The Unseen World by Liz Moore ; Black Man in the White House by Cornell Belcher; The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

How do you manage stress (i.e. sports, exercise, meditation)?

I really focus on not letting the things I can’t control bother me. It takes some effort to do that, but it is the best thing to do when managing stress. I work on my time management and stick to a schedule that is workable for me with regards to home life, work, school, and my other commitments. I am also getting better at saying no to things.

I have tried meditation, but I feel I am the least successful person in this regard. I, therefore, listen to music usually to and from work — where the music playlist is a mix of anything you can imagine — and I will also watch my favourite television shows and movies to relax.

What is the most significant thing you’ve learned at Ivey?

Ivey’s overall case method approach really works and it leads to developing an excellent framework for critical thought and being able to summarize and understand complex cases. The Socratic method Ivey uses in the classroom — of debate and critical discussion — is something that is critical in business as an aspiring executive leader because you learn to be thoughtful, exacting, and persuasive in front of whatever group of people you are leading or presenting to.

What’s been the most surprising aspect of the Executive MBA journey to date?

My classmates and how quickly we have bonded. I already have people in the program I know will become friends for life and excellent confidantes. We are all driven and motivated people and that has really elevated the quality of discussions and the quality of the program and has pushed me even further to be high performing.