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I believe that the word that describes this conference best is variety. The organizers hit the sweet spot with balancing the speakers of different backgrounds. The equal distribution of speakers coming from the NGO sector, small and medium businesses, as well as global corporations, gave this event a status that was previously reserved only for more mature conferences with higher attendance. That nothing was ordinary and 'same-old' with this conference proves the fact that the name tags that all the attendees received were 3D-printed, and very cool.
Athens certainly contributed to the feelings. For someone who visited Greece for the first time, I wanted to see every cornewr of it. My intentions were realized mostly thanks to the TripAdvisor app and UBER, which had its free week during the conference. Yes, every ride for FREE.
Conference venue was Athens' center for innovation and creativity - Athens Impact Hub. I've been to several Impact hubs in different cities, but this marvel left the biggest impression on me of them all. Scattered across four different levels, it is hosting some of the Greek most innovative startups and individuals. The fact that it is located in the middle of the Psirri area means that once you're done with work, the bar next-door probably offers the best souvlaki in the neighborhood, or perhaps the best sweet treat you've seen in your life.
The short highlights are below, per days:
Natasha Gligorijevic of the New Diplomacy Centre and Ioanna Fotopoulou of YouRule worked on this edition of the conference and were the first speakers welcoming the first 100 attendees, an overture to what is probably the best speakers list at any of the conferences I've attended this year: Mr. Kostantinos Mpitzanis – CEO Technopolis, City of Athens, Mr. Leonidas Antonakopoulos – Director of the office of the European Parliament in Greece, Ms. Anna Eustathiou – Representation of the European Commission in Greece, Ms Maria Leontiou – Head of Innovation Center Eurobank, and Ms. Maria Xytaki – President of the Hellenic London School of Economics Alumni Association. Keynote speakers were up immediately after the official welcome. The list of them wasn't lacking either: Mr. Dimitris Kokkinakis, CoFounder of Impact Hub Athens, Mr. John Georgiou, Chief Editor Athens Macedonian News Agency (ΑPΕ MPE), and Mr. Efthimis Savvakis, Marketer at the First LEGO League.
The second day opened with startup stories. Margherita Pagani, Eleni Gkika, and Batas John had the opportunity to tell the attendants about what it takes for a young person to build on their ideas and make something that will make a difference. The second day panel that we're most proud of was one of our own where everyone got to know how MUNPlanet became the community that it is today and what the road looked like. Both onstage and offstage, MUNPlanet sparked the interest among the attendees and they had many questions.
Saturday theme were the millennials where our friends Ivan Prado and Martina Buchal talked about with the participants about the role of millennials in reshaping the civil society. They were also the mentors of the conference and were there to answer all the questions. Particularly interesting was the panel on disruptive apps and the Internet of Things. The guests at the panel were Dr. Grigorios Poulis, COO SAP Services South Europe, Middle East and Africa and Mr. Vasilis Danias, Operations and Logistics Manager at Uber Athens. These two companies are among the top ten of the companies I admire the most at the moment. I found the stories from this panel to be some of the most usable and applicable to the things I am currently involved in.
The final day was reserved for the attendees presenting their resolutions for the issues that were discussed.
We left Athens and Greece richer for many new friendships and contacts. Now we are turning to the next Diplomacy Forum which is coming back home to Belgrade in May 2016.