In the current post-modern society of the possibility of developing technical intelligence as a substitute for any expression of human activity, the search for a new narrative of the left parties on the relationship between employers, the state and business, the value end of the entrepreneurial initiative and the necessity of re-approaching ethical and aesthetic priorities, reading the book “Onassis Bussiness History 1924-1975” (Crete University Press), edited by Gelina Harlaftis, is perhaps a unique case of a holistic approach to the upraising universal questions.

“‘Entrepreneurship is an art‘, was the message heard in the packed hall of the Onassis Foundation on Monday, 9 October, during the presentation of the publication on the business activities of Aristotle Onassis. Without the “logical articulatory prerequisites”, as Alexis Papachelas underlined at the presentation of the publication, Aristotle Onassis was nevertheless a businessman and a man who, by the standards of the philosophers, managed to live a “special life” and became a global symbol of honour for the country, a reference point for businessmen and academics, and certainly extremely beloved in every expression of his human aspect.

The event was coordinated by Alexis Papachelas, while the following spoke: Antonis S. Papadimitriou, President of the Onassis Foundation, Gélina Harlaftis, Professor of Maritime History at the University of Crete and Director of the Institute of Mediterranean Studies of the Foundation for Research and Technology, Costas Grammenos, Professor of Shipping, Trade & Finance and President of the Costas Grammenos Centre for Shipping, Trade & Finance at Bayes Business School, City University of London, Peter G. Livanos, Ioannis Theotokas, Professor of Shipping Business Administration and Chairman of the Department of Shipping Studies at the University of Piraeus.

Photo Credits @ Margarita Yoko Nikitaki

The book is based on the Onassis Archive and reflects in the most authoritative and thorough way the 50-year operation of a multinational business group created by the most famous shipowner of the 20th century, with companies on 3 continents and 14 countries and activities around the globe.

Above all, it is an emblematic work that aims to chart Aristotle Onassis’ multifaceted economic activity: from shipping to Olympic Airways, the Olympic Tower in New York and many other investments.

The aim of this volume is to cover Onassis’ business activities in trade, shipping, air transport, shipbuilding, oil and gas, and finance through his partnerships and conflicts with economic and political establishments in Europe and America. Above all, the book shows how Aristotle Onassis created the shipping business of the new globalised era, which operates institutionally to this day following the standards he set.

Photo Credits @ Pinelopi Gerasimou

Antonis S. Papadimitriou said, among other things, about the publication, “There are many pages in this book. It is many pages long. Because Onassis, was fascinating. It was his own vision that made him organize a shipowning business from scratch, in an unprecedented regulatory framework, taking advantage of new financing techniques that he set up, on new ships that were successive achievements of innovation and built from literally bombed-out shipyards. Thus he transformed a localist Greek shipping culture into the corporate culture of a global business group. It was his human character that made his colleagues good friends for decades, even after his death.”

Ms Gelina Harlaftis said: “Aristotle Onassis was one of the first truly international businessmen, the one whose work created the model of the global shipping business. Through this book I want to promote the importance of Greek entrepreneurship. We have a great entrepreneurship but we have demonized entrepreneurs. But without entrepreneurs there is no economy. I hope that this work will be an example to follow for the course and development of mainly shipping businesses in Greece.”

Mr Ioannis Theotokas said: “From the analysis of the book, the basic characteristic of Aristotle Onassis is fully highlighted: He was a business leader of the global shipping market who was not confined to a framework, either national or business. Throughout his career he sought new paths. As an entrepreneur, he went beyond the boundaries that limited his activities, constantly going over and beyond. He pursued it even if it meant conflict and risk. He created a model that remains strong to this day.

Mr. Peter G. Livanos stated: “Part of Onassis’ success was his ability to use his character, personality and thinking to succeed in different fields. He dared to take risks, but he also knew how to keep the balance. We owe much to him both for the legacy he left us and to the people who today continue his work with integrity.”

The book “Onassis Bussiness History 1924-1975” is available in all bookstores from Crete University Press.

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