Demetris Papadopoulos: The Power of Mentoring

Wednesday, July 1, 2009
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Ethos, pathos and logos. For Demetris Papadopoulos, HR director of European compensation and benefits at scientific and laboratory-equipment company Thermo Fisher Scientific, those values were instilled in him through the mentoring he received at key moments in his personal and professional life.

"Throughout my career I've had people in my life who have influenced me in a way that created energy, passion, curiosity and a thirst for knowledge to find out what was out there for me," says Papadopoulos, a 2009 HR's Rising Star.

Ethos, which he describes as integrity and individual responsibility, came from his parents who raised him in his native Cyprus.

Pathos, Papadopoulos' passion for his career, came from Aris Petasis, founder of Petasis Associates in Cyprus, who gave him his first internship in HR in 1997.

At the tender age of 22, Papadopoulos helped port workers negotiate a new, more workable schedule with the Cyprus Ports Authority.

"Through that experience, I saw that things were possible, from an analytical point of view and from a people point of view," says Papadopoulos, who now works out of Thermo Fisher's London office. "[Petasis] was the main reason I chose a career in HR."

Logos, the development of his knowledge and experience, came from Papadopoulos' relationship with Steve Sheehan, senior vice president of human resources at Thermo Fisher, based in Waltham, Mass.

Papadopoulos was hired in 2003 to help the company (then called Thermo Electron) set up the HR infrastructure while it underwent a transformation from a holding company with 23 public businesses to an operating company with one HR structure.

He fulfilled the very same function three years later when Thermo Electron merged with Fisher Scientific.

Working as head of compensation at the time, he was tasked with creating the entire structure for compensation -- complete with a salary management guide and a framework for rewards and recognition.

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"The nuts and bolts of compensation that companies have, it just was not there," he says.

In 2006, when Thermo merged with the much larger Fisher Scientific, he had to take the compensation model he created and integrate it with the processes at Fisher -- then roll it out to the 30,000-plus employees in the newly combined company.

"We went from a payroll that was just shy of $600 [million] to $700 million to a payroll that's now $1.6 billion," he says.

Sheehan says Papadopoulos has been successful due to his "exceptionally strong work ethic" and setting an aggressive agenda for himself.

"In my 31 years of doing human resource work, I've seen very few people who are able to gain support throughout the company, and human resources especially, so well," says Sheehan.

Papadopoulos, he says, has responded so well to his mentoring -- as well as that of his parents and Petasis -- because he is able to seize opportunities when given.

"Demitris has a unique ability to take something conceptually and run with it farther and faster than most," he says.

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