In his current role, he heads a global organization that provides professional development
solutions to individuals, organizations and government agencies in more than 80 countries.
He says his HR background has been an asset
in preparing him to take the reins as the organization’s highest-ranking executive.
“It’s been quite a ride,” he says. “Helping
organizations succeed through efective
people management has defnitely given
me a strong foundation and a deep un-
derstanding of business issues. It’s been
very advantageous to grow up in the HR
Avramidis credits his CEO predeces-
sor, Edward T. Reilly, with giving him
opportunities to develop his talents
during the 16 years they worked to-
gether to strengthen the AMA’s posi-
tion as an education and leadership
training provider. He strives to do
the same for others.
“If you want to measure your-
self as a leader, look no further
than the people you surround
yourself with. It’s important to
lead by example and to give peo-
ple the resources they need to do
their jobs—and then to get out of
He recently spoke with HR Maga-
zine about his career journey.
I grew up in North Bergen, N.J., the
LEARNING ON THE JOB
youngest of fve children in a very disci-
plined household. My dad was a lieutenant
in the Army, and my mother was a seamstress.
They immigrated here from Greece. They
preached about the importance of having eth-
ics, integrity and accountability—values they
lived every day. Their example made me grow to
truly believe that one’s actions today infuence
your choices in the future.
I got my frst job was when I was in college, working part time at a restaurant a few blocks from
Times Square, not too far from where I work now.
It introduced me to people from a multitude of
cultures and gave me an appreciation for the demands of long hours and hard work. It instilled
a work ethic that has served me well throughout
I fell into HR by accident. I was working as a
claims customer service representative at a health
insurance company in New York City when I was
promoted to trainer. My role was to train other
claims customer service reps. From there, I was
promoted to training manager, reporting to the
head of HR. After that, I moved into roles in talent
acquisition, compliance, compensation and benefts, and human resource information systems
management. It gave me a well-rounded HR background.
I joined the AMA almost 20 years ago to run
the organization’s HR product line. In 2002, I became CHRO. I’ve had an opportunity to assume
a variety of roles and to gain quite a bit of experience with governing boards of directors. I’ve
been challenged both as an HR professional and
as an executive.
WHAT HE LOOKS FOR
The three questions I always ask when hiring
ā Can they do the job?
ā Will they do the job?
ā Are they the right ft for the organization?
I want to hire people who are smarter than I
am in their feld. I’m seeking positive, independent thinkers and innovators who support change
and can exercise a strong degree of agility and
adaptability. I also place a high value on a candidate’s level of curiosity and their willingness to
take smart risks.
ON BEING A SERVANT-LEADER
I’ve been fortunate to have had several people
throughout my career who have inspired me to
He was appointed president and
CEO of the 94-year-old institution
after serving as senior vice president
of product development and chief
human resources officer, where he
led a 20-person team responsible
for the strategy and direction of the
company’s international HR function.