Ioannis Michos: The Face Behind Success

Ioannis Michos is an acclaimed thought leader in the industry, named as the Top FS Leader globally for 2023 by “the Consulting Report”, and throughout his career, he has been involved and led some of the most iconic initiatives in the Financial Services and Insurance sectors. Currently, he serves as a Managing Partner in TCS, where he heads up the Financial Services and Insurance Consulting Practice in EMEA. He is at his best when designing, directing, and managing teams that challenge the status quo and influence large-scale change in the world of business. Name few of the industry’s biggest success stories and you’re very likely to find Ioannis’ footprints.

As a true value creator, Ioannis is well known in the industry for his deep knowledge of different markets and practices across the globe, as well as his high degree of business, political, and commercial acumen. Adding to the above his deep expertise in building, motivating, and retaining competent teams, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his name has become a synonym of success in his field.

Prior to joining TCS, Ioannis served in multiple senior executive positions both in the consulting and in the industry, in organizations like Willis Towers Watson, PwC, Grant Thornton, and Achmea Group to name a few. He holds a Master’s in Management, and a Bachelor’s in Economics, he is an INSEAD alumnus, a Chartered Accountant (FCCA), a CFA Charter holder, an AWS Cloud Practitioner, and Prince2 qualified.

A Career of Choice

Ioannis always wanted to run businesses, share (in many cases create) best market practices, and advise senior executives about how they can improve their firms. And from the positions he had over the years, this is exactly what he has been doing. Even after almost 2 decades now, he does it with the same passion as day 1. Across geographies, across industries, and across topics such as strategy, operations, finance, risk, and technology – just to name a few. This multifaceted nature of his role is what he enjoys the most and what keeps him motivated.

In his current role as a Managing Partner in TCS Ioannis works closely with a number of FS and Insurance clients across EMEA to help them optimize their strategies and operations, improve their profitability, achieve quantifiable operational and financial efficiencies, and reduce their cost base. Also, as expected from someone at his level, he is responsible for the pipeline, the go-to-market strategy, the P&L, and all the strategic, operational, and financial aspects of this part of the business.

And what makes the work even more interesting is the work environment at TCS.

“The reason why I decided to join TCS in the first place is because of the unparalleled technological capabilities and advancements that it can offer to its clients combined with its deep domain knowledge. Not in theory, but in a very practical way; something I didn’t have in my previous firms. And, according to my personal view, the latter is one of the biggest key competitive advantages that TCS has. Yes, I do enjoy being at the forefront of every revolutionary change in my industry globally, but always in a way that can actually help my clients; I don’t like revolutionizing just for the sake of it,” says Ioannis.

An Optimistic and Approachable Leader

Ioannis does not believe in hierarchies. He feels that hierarchical structures eventually lead to unnecessary inefficiencies and bottlenecks that unavoidably affect peoples’ productivity, effectiveness, efficiency, and – ultimately – their morale. “Throughout my career, I have always tried to be very approachable, open to everyone (regardless of their seniority), and lead by example. Trust me when I say that no one will get inspired and follow a leader if this leader does not live by his / her beliefs. At least not in the long run,” he says.

An inherently optimistic person, Ioannis is always trying to see the bright side of things. His personal philosophy is that nothing is impossible and that we should always aim high, regardless of the hardships. Not a fan of excuses, Ioannis has always believed that excuses are there, only to hold us back. Trying to find justifications about why we failed in something is undeniably in human nature. However, he does not think it is constructive.

“It is much better to say that I failed because of XYZ so next time you solve the problem in a different way that addresses / takes into account the XYZ, than find all the excuses in the world so we can go easy on ourselves and get us “off the hook”. I do appreciate that the latter comes much more naturally, but the former is what helps us become better! Personal development and self-improvement is a never-ending journey, but the sooner we embark on it the better it will be for our professional and personal lives,” he explains.

Problem-solving and Strategic Planning

What truly matters to Ioannis is his clients. He always puts them at the center of everything he does. But he never forgets that this is the case with his clients too. Their clients are their most valuable asset. This is exactly the reason why it is very important in every problem-solving and strategic planning exercise to reverse engineer and carefully consider the impact that a decision will have on clients.

“This is my approach and one of the key strategic advices I give to the CxOs of the Firms I work with. Always consider your clients; they are the end buyers of your services / products and the ones who ultimately determine how successful – or not – an organization is. Everything you do should aim to have a positive impact on them,” he explains.

Pointers that Drive Growth

Diversification and strong knowledge of the market are the two factors Ioannis believes drive growth. “Diversification when it comes to services, offerings, market propositions, solutions, and accelerators so we can cover fully the breadth and depth of the demand we are creating. And strong knowledge of the market because understanding the true needs of the clients, their agendas, their pain points, and in many cases also helping CxOs to actually identify the aforementioned based on where the market is moving and what their peers are doing, should bea critical success factor for any business,” he shares.

The combination of these two is the recipe for success. But a recipe without a strong brigade is just words on paper. And this is why he cannot stress enough how important it is to have the right team. “As we used to say, if you want to go fast go by yourself but if you want to go far, go with your team,” he states.

Challenging Projects

Challenges have been the very nature of his work for two decades now. Challenging the status quo and helping CxOs achieve extraordinary results is what Ioannis excels at. One way or another, he has been involved in some of the most challenging programs in the world. Some had to do with redesigning from scratch and transforming end-to-end clients’ core operations so measurable efficiencies, improved profitability, and better bottom lines could be achieved. Some others had to do with designing and optimizing divisional and group-level strategies and business plans. Some involved material technology and/or outsourcing interventions across clients’ value chains with the aim of achieving significant cost cuttings and/or better valuations.

Despite the uniqueness of each program he has run over the years, there is one common denominator in all of them (one can call this a “lesson learned”). And this is that every single program in the world, regardless of the industry, the complexity, or the region, is doomed to eventually fail if the people in the business are not onboard!

“The people who are working in the business need to understand why something is happening, how it may influence their day-to-day jobs, what they will get out of it, and why they should support it. At the end of the day, they will be the ones who will live with its outcomes at the Business As Usual phase,” he explains.

Emerging Trends in Financial Services

The biggest trend Ioannis sees at the moment is Artificial Intelligence (more specifically Generative Artificial Intelligence) and its practical applications – and implications – that it can have on existing business models.

“Last week, I was reading a comprehensive study which involved approximately 1,300 senior executives from 24 countries in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and North America (more than half with revenue over USD 5 billion), that proved – actually emphasized – exactly that. More than half of the respondents believed that AI will be greater than (or equal to) the Internet (!) and that they are excited about its potential impact on their business,” he points out.

“Also, a stunning 60% believed that the impact of AI will be greater than (or equal to) smartphones! Let me repeat that. Greater than smartphones! As you (and hopefully our readers) can understand, this megatrend has the potential to truly transform the Financial Services and Insurance sectors as we know them,” he adds.

Envisioning the Future

Ioannis vision for the future is to expand his reach in less “popular” regions and businesses, and to also continue to deliver unparalleled value to his clients by revolutionizing their current ways of working with practical and well-tested interventions. The reason for that is because despite all the transformations the industry has undergone over the past decade or so, the truth is that there are still significant quantifiable efficiencies to be explored and “unlocked” in the ways the vast majority of Firms globally are conducting their business.

“Efficiencies that have the potential to skyrocket their profitability, their bottom lines, and their valuations. Efficiencies that no one may have been able to realize a few years back due to technological (and perceptual) constraints. This is what experience is showing us. Not in theory, but in practice since I am seeing this actually happening day after day,” he shares.

Words of Experience

To the aspiring executives, here is what Ioannis has to say in the concluding lines:

“I would give them exactly the same advice my mentor gave me 20-plus years ago (this is what I have drawn to my daughter’s room when she was born by the way). Always have a clear target (a dream if you wish) and then strive to “fly” above it! Never, NEVER stop until you reach it. And then, set up your next target, and then the one after. And so on… We all need to redefine ourselves in the process of course, but this is the beauty of it! Throughout my career, I have seen many great minds with huge potential fail, because they were not persistent enough! They quit after the first or the second “fall”. We should never forget that it really doesn’t matter how many times we “fall”, but how many times we get back on our feet. As long as the latter is greater than the former, success will eventually come.”

A Quote to Live By

Undoubtedly, sky is the limit!

“From a very young age, this is the motto I passionately believed in and lived by. The reason is simple. If someone truly believes that the sky is the limit and he continuously strives to reach it with everything he has, then even if he fails and stops somewhere in the middle, well; it is high enough!”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the interviewee and they do not represent the views of TCS and its clients.