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Theophanis Theophanous: Co-founder and President, Cypriots in the City

theophanis

Theophanis Theophanous has been working for Barclays in the United Kingdom since 2011 when he joined as Managing Director in the UHNW and Family Offices team. Prior to that, he worked for Deloitte and joined their UK branch on the graduate scheme as an analyst, climbing the ranks to Partner.

In 2010, Theophanous decided to make the switch from the accounting profession to banking. He is also the director of the Charalambos and Elena Pattihis Foundation, and a member of the board of the Greek Cypriot Brotherhood in the UK.

What led to the establishment of Cypriots in the City?
“More than 20 years ago, I had a conversation with my dear friend George Rologis, who was also stationed in London, about establishing Cypriots in the City. Our goal was to bring together Cypriot professionals to form a network in which we could share information, experience, and network to assist one another.

“We were young professionals with 1-2 years of work experience at the time, but we had an ambition of developing a truly Cypriot ecosystem. We were among the few Cypriots in the City at the time, and we are glad to say that our dream has been achieved. George is still a member of the advisory board. Can we do more? Of course, and we are constantly striving to improve.”

How does the organisation function in terms of membership acquisition?
“Our members come to us by word of mouth, and we hope to have new members join us straight out of university. We host numerous career events for university students, and this year we formed a students’ subcommittee where students inform us what they need, how we can help, organising events together, and so on. We are, in a sense, establishing our own ecosystem. We have three membership tiers. The full member, where you must be a Cypriot or Cypriot by descent and working in one of the professions in the City.

“We have an affiliate membership for students who are Cypriots or of Cypriot descent who want to work in the City. Finally, we have the “Friend of Cypriots in the City” membership, which is for non-Cypriots. To be honest, this came about due to popular demand, as we had non-Cypriots asking us to join as affiliate members.”

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What are the objectives of the association?
“Our goals are to establish a network for the exchange of professional information and experience within our members’ fields of competence, which include banking and financial services, consulting, accounting, and law. Working professionals should be mentored. Students who want to work in the City should be supported.”

What, in your opinion, have been the key highlights for the association in 2023?
“In collaboration with the Cyprus High Commission in the United Kingdom and Invest Cyprus – CIPA, we organised a roundtable discussion with the Minister of Energy, Commerce, and Industry of the Republic of Cyprus, the Chairman of the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, the Chairman of Invest Cyprus, the CEO of Invest Cyprus, and the Special Advisor to the President of Cyprus on Economic Affairs.

“The roundtable discussion focused on “How to Improve Cyprus’ Offering and Competitiveness,” and we brought together Cypriots from all communities in Cyprus who work in the finance, legal, accounting, technology, and consulting sectors in the UK, with the goal of developing a strategic approach to improving Cyprus’ offering and competitiveness.

“In addition, we established the first student subcommittee and mentored third-country nationals. Finally, we have brought together Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Armenian Cypriots, Maronite Cypriots, and Latin Cypriots.”

Can you tell us more about the mentoring scheme that Cypriots in the City offers in terms of achieving career goals in the UK?
“We have a mentoring scheme for students who aspire to work in the city, and we assist them with job applications, interview preparation, and so on. Our initiative is now in its fourth year, and we also have a scheme for experienced professionals looking for advice on how to advance in their professions.”

Are you able to share any success stories with us?
“We have so many success stories, and many of these young individuals are willing to give back, which is the most significant result of our mentoring programme in my opinion. Many of the students we have supervised have gone on to work for some of the world’s most prestigious banks, accounting firms, consulting firms, and law firms. We also mentored third-country nationals who applied to our scheme. But, returning to Cypriots, a Turkish Cypriot recently mentored a Greek Cypriot, demonstrating how we can live and work together as Cypriots, and this is a success story.”

What are some of the activities that the group is implementing to promote Cypriot culture in the United Kingdom?
“We are an active member of the National Federation of Cypriots in the United Kingdom and attend several community events as a result. We promote what it means to be a Cypriot. Many people who are unfamiliar with Cyprus were taken aback by the Armenian, Maronite, and Latin membership.”

What other initiatives has the association organised to promote Cyprus as a competitive investment hub?
“We have frequently conveyed our opinions on certain topics to Invest Cyprus and the Economic Diplomacy Unit, and we have organised meetings with various officials from the Cyprus government in which we have expressed our views on certain issues.”
London has traditionally been the first choice for Cypriot students interested in studying law, finance, accounting, and other related fields.

What advice would you provide to students or new graduates who want to work in London?
“An interesting question. When I was growing up in Cyprus, the belief was that being a good student ensured success. Coming to the UK at the time, I realised that while being a brilliant student is an advantage, it is not sufficient. Those who wish to work in the City should do a lot of internships, know exactly where they want to work and why, and be well prepared for interviews.”

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