Marianna Pantelidou
Chief of Staff to the CEO, Wargaming Group Limited

‘For me, a mission has value when the ‘why’ attaching to it is meaningful. In 2022, I will make efforts to build my courage by doing one thing that I would not normally do: Break barriers of either fear or the ordinary. This, I believe, energises, and empowers me. As a mother, I tried to ‘shed’ the guilt that mothers usually have if we do not spend volumes of hours with our children’

Marianna Pantelidou is an individual who likes challenge. Her motto is “attitude is a choice,” and tends to see the positive side of things. Marianna is a mother, daughter, spouse, a friend, and a colleague. She joined Wargaming in 2013 and loves the passion and agility of working in the tech entertainment industry. “The large corporate experiences I gained in multicultural environments, my commitment and passion for challenge, as well as the trust of Wargaming’s CEO, Victor Kislyi, have led me to the current role I have. I am the jack of all trades and I get involved in a variety of business matters.”

Tell us about your company.
“We are a global award-winning entertainment company. We develop and publish legendary online free to play games that bring joy to millions of fans across the world. We are an enthusiastic and passionate crowd of over 5,000 people, spread around 19 offices, spanning almost all continents. Some of us are the boring corporate bunch, with most of our colleagues being tech geeks, engineers, developers, artists, and marketeers.”

What do you think helped you the most to make a career as a woman?
“I made a career in the conventional way any person makes a career. I was driven and worked hard. I sought challenge and gave my best. I had a voice in things that mattered to me and to the workplace. I gathered experiences from large international corporations. I was not afraid to make a move and jump to the next experience when I felt I was ready for a new challenge.
Now addressing the “as a woman” qualification in the question. Well, most of the times being a woman entails being a mother. As a mother, I tried to ‘shed’ the guilt that mothers usually have if we do not spend volumes of hours with our children. Admittedly, I did not spend those hours with my kids. I was fortunate to have the support of my family and an encouraging spouse. Although I often felt the ‘guilt’, I never compromised caring for my children, being compassionate, and providing unconditional support.”

Have you been confronted with gender-related roadblocks in your career?
“I was lucky enough not to. It saddens me to see how few women are in leadership positions in corporations, governments, movements, and associations. Although more women hold middle management positions, nowadays, making the leap to the next big step can be faced with gender-related roadblocks. Perceptions of the kind that “she has a family and therefore she is not really up to it,” or “she will not sacrifice the time to pursue business development activities,” are excuses we may often hear from male leaders. To get rid of these roadblocks, we need to speak-up. We need to shout it out loud and clear that we are up for the challenge, and that we can deliver. We need to keep demanding equal opportunity and call it out when we believe we have not. Change comes with persistence.”

Why do you think companies would benefit from having more women at the top?
“In a McKinsey Diversity Matters report, data gathered from 366 public companies across a range of industries in Canada, Latin America, the UK and the US, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
Why is this so? Diversity widens the skill set, broadens the perspectives of an issue, the introduction of alternative options and solutions, the approach to communication matters, improvement of culture, and of course meritocracy irrespective of gender, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. Meritocracy attracts talent; and talent makes the difference between being good and being great. Meritocracy and inclusion can unleash phenomenal expansion of the talent pool, especially the senior levels in which the biggest diversity gap is oftentimes observed.”

Do you or did you have a woman leader as a mentor or are there specific women who inspired you and why?
“Of course. One such person is Ellie Patsalos. I heard about Ellie early on in my career as she was a successful Cypriot professional at Deloitte in the UK. Ellie served as the Global Head of Tax for Financial Services and Vice Chair of Deloitte LLP. I met Ellie when she was on a consultancy assignment at Wargaming. An energetic, intelligent person who left Aradippou some 40+ years ago to study at the London School of Economics and successfully climbed the corporate ladder reaching the top.
A mother of two, charitable person, great communicator, motivator, relentless fighter in life, and a challenge seeker. Ellie was the one who inspired me to join her team of other ladies from different parts of the world to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in support of Breast Cancer Research back in 2016. She is an example of how any determined woman with energy, passion, brains, and commitment can reach the top in her field and still be a great mother, friend, benefactor to those in need, and an inspiration to many of us.”