Staff Spotlight: Popi Baloglou

Director of Housing and Catering
Popi Baloglu supervises the dining room and is responsible for the general maintenance of the CYA apartments. A Greek who was born in Istanbul, Ms. Baloglu also lived in South Africa and the United States. She studied engineering drafting and worked as a draftsman for eight years. She came to Greece and joined CYA in 1988.

What is your favorite travel memory?

It’s a complex question that lacks a single answer. Trying to get a sense of what solidifies a moment into an unforgettable memory, it’s easier to start with the Princes' Islands summer vacations in Istabul as a child; full of lovely late-19th-century villas and palazzos, as well as pine groves, monasteries and beaches, making them ideal for nature walks and sunbathing. It's a gem with Edwardian elegance.

Also visiting Kruger National Park which, for many, is a bucket-list destination, a glimpse of wild Africa. The scenery was breath-taking; having stopped at the top of a hill, with a beautiful plain full of springboks and just opposite us, another hill, at the top of which is a lion, which aims at its prey against the backdrop of an iconic sunset.

Subsequently, living in Boston the major college town I would like to mention Universities, Plymouth National Wax Museum, Buildings’ featuring impressive Architecture, the best clam chowder I ever tasted, my epic road trip from Sacramento to Boston and last but not least, shovelling snow.

Ending with my favourite travel memory in Greece, I come to the following conclusion: People with Philotimo? Islands? The simple pleasures of food, drinking, or friends? The warmth of the sun on my skin, or my feet on the ground? All together but then again, too few to mention…

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

My remarkable journey at CYA started 33 years ago. Working for the company has been an incredibly rewarding opportunity because I’ve always dreamt of a work environment that combines Greece and abroad. I have been developing myself both in my personal and my career life by constantly expanding my knowledge horizon, net-working with new people, understanding young people’s psychology and bridging up the generation gap.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

There have been countless students over the years that have returned to visit Greece and CYA, but what is the most rewarding is to see how they express greater personal and professional confidence and at the same time cultivating a love for Greece and facilitating connections with CYA that last. It’s really an honour to have been a part of that!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Tough choice – History… Byzantine History in Fall Semester. The program reveals this great civilization's rise to military and cultural supremacy, its spectacular destruction by the Fourth Crusade, and its revival and final conquest in 1453. In my opinion History and Religion are sources of Hellenic Identity.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Corporate culture. I’m talking about values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize our organization and define its nature. At CYA, student and employee’s success and satisfaction are the top two priorities- they go hand-in-hand, and as they build each other up, they create an external and internal army of ambassadors. Both students and employees feel valued in all aspects of their lives, including not only their professional but also their personal aspirations.

CYA team get downright ecstatic whenever there’s a problem to solve. There have been some anguished moments in the past such as the Gulf War in 1990, the earthquake in Athens in 1999, 11 September 2001, the 2008 economic crisis, to name a few; the current Covid-19 situation is peculiar, in many terms- social isolation, quarantine and the unpredictable duration; still indefinite. I couldn't be more proud of my co-workers, as well as of the Fall 2020 semester students whose only motivation to visit our program was their academical curiosity, true desire and quest for knowledge embracing the experience of learning outside of their comfort zone.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

A great team prioritized by a leader who puts the company first and supports team’s ideas and creativity. Also, co-working with capable and committed people who are able to focus on the big picture while directing the small one and have a welcoming and friendly nature inside us. “Home” is the place where a person lives, or a congenial environment. That is exactly what most of us feel about our workplace. At the end of the day, it makes me happy and I look forward to coming back to the office the next day to be with my favorite people, it feels like my second home here.