Andrea Kallis Parparinou
Advocate/Partner, Elias Neocleous & Co LLC

‘Women make up 50 per cent of the population and usually half of the workforce and their value in the workforce is undisputed. Our mission is to support and promote diversity and inclusion’

Andrea Kallis Parparinou started her career in banking litigation, however it was commercial and business-driven legal work that piqued her interest, prompting her to take on a corporate lawyer position. As an advocate licensed by the Cyprus Bar Association, Andrea has been practicing law for the past 15 years and during this time she has also been an active member on committees and boards dealing with matters such as music and technology. “During my time at the firm, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with very talented colleagues many of which are women, and together as a team we advise international clients to solve problems or disputes, monitor regulatory compliance, and collaborate with consulting teams, specialists, and accomplished professionals.”

Tell us about your company.
“We are a full spectrum, multi-disciplinary law firm, generally regarded as a regional leader, on all aspects of law, supporting local businesses but also with a particular strength in cross-border work with international clients and providing legal services of the highest quality as part of our commitment over many years to the development of international business in Cyprus. Our firm is women strong and recognises the reliance of the long-standing support it has received from its female workforce, taking internal initiatives in support of women such as a breast cancer awareness campaign that it runs every year with the contribution from all members of the firm.”

What is your mission statement for 2022?
“Our mission is to support and promote diversity and inclusion. Our method: providing a safe place for all members of our team at all levels of the firm from which to practice and develop, striving to push the boundaries of our comfort zones, challenging ourselves daily, trying to realise our true potential as a collective but also appreciating and recognising the different skillsets and abilities that individual members from different backgrounds or genders can bring.”

What is the biggest factor that has helped you be successful?
“A combination of many things. I could say my hard-working ethic and leave it there, however it is not a complete answer and very stereotypical since most people in law firms work hard and long hours. My education has been a big factor; having the opportunity to learn law at one of the top educational institutions has given me a great foundation. But you don’t learn how to practice law from university. Women are high performers as students in law schools but that doesn’t translate to the leadership pipeline in the legal profession.
I was fortunate to have had remarkable mentors over the years, both male and female, from whom I have learned so much. I also lead an amazing team which I love supporting and challenging to help them to grow their own careers with passion, drive, curiosity, empathy, humility, willingness to listen, and the need to improve yourself even when you have already achieved a certain level of success. I am also thankful to my family who have instilled a sense of honour in me and has provided the support without which I could not have become the professional I am today.”

Why do you think companies would benefit from having more women at the top?
“The value of women in the workforce is no longer a topic for discussion – it is a fact. What is still under discussion though are the challenges which women face especially where these have a direct impact on their careers. In 2021, McKinsey conducted the largest study of women in corporate America to find that women took a big hit from the pandemic with professional women now feeling more burnout than their male counterparts, not only on account of unequal allocation of childcare or household responsibilities, but because they did not just focus on their day-to-day tasks. Their leadership approach and attention to their teams during the pandemic meant that they did more for their team members, helping them navigate work-life challenges and ensuring their workloads are manageable whilst checking in on their well-being. These are valuable soft skills that companies need and contribute to a more content, more productive, more sustainable workforce with less turnover and this value should be recognised.”

Do or did you have a woman leader as a mentor or are there specific women who inspired you and why?
“There are so many inspirational women who I am in awe of. Women who excel in their respective fields, be it law, medicine, arts, journalism, or others, but at the same time use their platform to educate and openly share their knowledge and their journey, while contributing to the development of society. I am also inspired by women who dedicate their lives to studying and working against the inequality that exists, such as Caroline Criado Perez, who challenges the way we see the world, writing about the effect of data bias on women, which is especially important as we enter the era of technological disruption.”

How should women support other women in their organisations?
“Women should be allowed to voice their concerns, to be heard and encouraged, to take on adversity and challenges while supported and mentored. We need to carefully consider the language we use (social conditioning language) and act on flaws in the language within the workplace to level the playing field and change the mindset towards women. Never jump to conclusions about female versus male importance; we are all part of the same team. At the same time, we need to rethink how we view women and what they contribute to the world as major contributors to society. I saw a meme recently, which said that society has reached point where everybody has a right, but nobody has a responsibility. We all have a responsibility to one another.”