Gaspare Manos 1984

What did you go on to study and where?

After Campion, destiny took me to London where I have been in and out ever since.

I got my Bachelor’s and Ph.D. from the London School of Economics [LSE].  Having been schooled in a very international setting like Campion, LSE seemed like the natural place to go – an open-minded university for global trotters as I call them. My Ph.D. was an intellectual luxury.  I did not know what I wanted to do in life. All those around me took the elevator straight into financial institutions and the so-called City.  I needed time to think, hence a Ph.D. was a good option to justify what was effectively several years of non employment – something possible in those days with a bit of luck..

LSE was a world apart, and still is. It remains a watering place for those keen to question orthodox views. I would go back if I had to start again. Over 150 nationalities are represented amongst LSE’s student body, the highest percentage of international students (70%) of all British universities. As matter of curiosity, almost 30% of all Nobel prizes in economics come from LSE.

Furthermore, the great mix of people means that you have a very humbling experience. You are able to put everything you know into perspective.   I strongly advise all Campion students to try their luck at LSE despite the tough entrance prerequisites. Sometimes, the improbable happens. In my case, I got a rare unconditional offer to join  – which was a surprise  –  and proof again that if you do not try in life, you do not get anywhere !

What were some lasting highlights from your experience at Campion?

Campion teachers gave us a certain freedom to think for ourselves. There was a feeling of real belonging and it felt like a second larger family for many years.

There are so many positive, funny and less funny details one could write a book about Campion in those days.  At school I met many remarkable people who taught me very valuable lessons – the lessons that make you know yourself better, believe in yourself better and ultimately help you achieve what you set out to achieve.

My teachers were also amongst my classmates. I developed a passion for baroque music and an early interest for software because of a Bach fanatic friend who loved early software coding. I developed an interest in photography and sailing because of another film fanatic friend with a passion for sailing,  and so forth..

In a nutshell, Campion successfully provided the right mix of friends and education to make it an interesting and good place to be in a chaotic Athens of the 1980’s…

Tell us a little bit about your life since leaving Campion

It was no bed of roses once I left university. The road has been Rock & Roll all the way. I have been to heaven and hell, and it’s the best train ride I have ever had.

We all end up in the same place, so the idea is to make the life journey as close to a satisfying Formula1 race all the way, with a few pit stops for the sake of sanity.

I do not recommend my strategy to any student, but it paid off in the end through stubbornness. After LSE, I worked in advertising, then media in general for a few years both printed and web. The dot com boom occurred. I dived head first in that ring, got burned several times, re-started, failed again, re-started, almost sold out, retrenched, failed again.

I then got involved in a software company with a foot in telecommunications and the other in media. This led to all sort of ventures.  Social responsibility was of great interest and remains a great issue for any company involvement I have, or have had in the past. I hope Campion students with a passion for business will think the same. Try to make it by all means, but use this success to help others achieve their dreams.

And then the BIG BANG half way down the line!  That happens when we wake up one morning, look at ourselves in the mirror and decide, the same day, to change everything and start again.

Can you guess?

I followed my instinct and passion. I have dedicated my life to painting and sculpting professionally ever since.  The rest is history.

At some point in the future, there will be museum exhibition of my work in Athens. We can all get together then, and I will tell you all about the dark secrets of the art world and how I navigated those rough waters to get here alive and relatively sane of mind…

Any tips for students?

Aristotle teaches us that knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. School unfortunately teaches you very little about yourself because at that age one dreams about a future that feels very distant.

The truth is that 10 years ahead is around the corner and that this figure is only slightly more that 500 Sundays away.. what can one expect to achieve in 500 weekends?  Nothing, unless one make a passionate choice, has a precise quantifiable visible goal, decides on a method to reach this goal, and most importantly sets a deadline to achieve it.

School provides some of the tools to reach this goal, but life experience and failures are the best teachers one will find. Failing is the best possible lesson in life, assuming one has the obsession to reach a goal.  And this is not all. To have luck on your side, one must also be prepared to loose everything to reach that personal state of grace. The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing in the end, and that happiness is achieved when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

Personally, it took me almost 50 years. I hope others from Campion get there faster !

Assiduity and commitment over a whole lifetime is what I recommend to students. Albert Einstein, who was a very fun-loving person once said that imagination is more important than knowledge.  Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.  When you are able to imagine yourself in the future, you are half way there, as long as you are working to a deadline as if that was the last day of life on earth.  The universe should then conspire in helping you to achieve it if you are single-mindedly focused on that thing you want – within reason!

Finally, go to the essential and do not listen to anything people tell you about what and how you should be later on. Be yourself, plan ahead and just do it because you enjoy it, not because of anything else.

Make it a great journey. Good luck!