Falling down isn’t failure

Throughout her decades-long career, security professional Christina has seen it all and has learned that failure isn’t an option. Over the years she has held various roles in security, safety, facilities management and profit protection. She has also worked on the technology vendor side — at companies such as Lucent Technologies and Avaya — and security systems integrators, starting at the internship entry level and gradually progressing to senior management roles.

“Each step allowed me to learn, adapt and contribute to my organization’s goals. To quote the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, ‘Falling down is not a failure. Failure comes when you stay where you have fallen’,” Alexandropoulou says. “My growth can be attributed to continuous learning, networking, and embracing new technologies. Building strong relationships with stakeholders and demonstrating tangible results have also been crucial.”

Growing up in a military family, Greek-American Alexandropoulou is no stranger to travel. Although born in New Jersey, Alexandropoulou has lived all over Europe including Dubai and most recently Greece where she currently serves as Cluster Manager for Security & Market Safety in South East Europe for Philip Morris International (PMI). In this role, Alexandropoulou oversees security and market safety across multiple countries within the region with responsibilities ranging from risk assessment, strategy implementation, and incident response and ensuring compliance with safety standards.

“More specifically, in my ‘day to day’ duties I supervise the development, implementation and continuous improvement of Security and Market Safety systems and programs and our Fleet Safety initiatives, by controlling and preventing fleet related crashes, injuries or fatalities to employees and third parties,” Alexandropoulou says. “I support our function's strategy, objectives, plans and budget execution, ensuring the execution complies with PMI’s and local OHS and fleet safety regulatory requirements while performing the local security, market and fleet safety risk assessment and execution, providing input for the risk mitigation action plan, performing annual risk assessment review and gap analysis.”

Alexandropoulou also actively contributes to the production and the maintenance of local security and market safety guidelines, procedures and market emergency response plans.

Every role in my 20-year journey has taught me something valuable. Whether it’s crisis management, team leadership, or technology adoption, I’ve grown by learning from both successes and challenges.”

“A crucial part of my role is to also engage with local law enforcement agencies and other relevant external security stakeholders to develop a strong information sharing network,” she says. “But the most important part is to bring people together to achieve our common goals – for in security, we can only succeed as a team.”

Success for the Future

The dynamic nature of the security field is something that has kept Alexandropoulou passionate throughout her career.

“It requires constant vigilance, adaptability, and problem-solving skills,” she says. “The challenge of safeguarding people, assets, corporate reputation and information motivates me. I have a passion for building strong, inclusive and empathetic teams. I’m on a journey for continuous improvement, I never stop learning and I have a sincere willingness to evolve. I take calculated risks and this has shaped my own unique leadership style. I want my team members to grow and thrive and their development and wellbeing are my priority.”

In addition to her passion and continuous drive towards self-improvement, Alexandropoulou credits her success – in no small part - to her support system.

“This is comprised of colleagues, mentors, and family – my 15-year-old twin girls are my greatest supporters and my husband, a professional basketball coach in the Greek Elite League division, inspires me daily to focus on creating winning teams that flourish,” she says.

In the often male-dominated security industry, Alexandropoulou hopes that by paying it forward, through mentoring and volunteering, she will help others break down barriers and reach their goals.

“Every role in my 20-year journey has taught me something valuable. Whether it’s crisis management, team leadership, or technology adoption, I’ve grown by learning from both successes and challenges,” she says. “I have evolved as a manager and a leader by being able to embrace my own vulnerabilities and grow as a professional – never forgetting my beginning and the allies that have helped me and mentored me along the way.”

At her current company, Alexandropoulou takes part in PMI’s “Elevate” development program along with 40 women leaders from all areas of operations. The six-month program empowers Alexandropoulou and her female colleagues to drive their careers in ways that are right for them. The program focuses on building upon strengths and taking the time to invest in development and personal growth.

In addition, Alexandropoulou also takes part in PMI’s global mentoring program “iGrow”, while also being the program Ambassador for Greece.

“Mentoring is more important than ever, as most employees are connecting via a computer screen and human-centric relationships are back at the forefront of business,” Alexandropoulou says. “Mentoring drives authenticity, psychological safety, and inclusion… As someone who has worn both the Mentee and Mentor hats, I can attest to the fantastic feeling of fulfilment and enrichment that mentorship brings.”

Strong analytical skills, adaptability, empathy, and the ability to collaborate across functions are critical to success in the security field. Offering advice to others looking to grow and advancing within the security industry, Alexandropoulou says curiosity is key.

“Stay curious, learn from diverse sources, and seek mentorship,” she says. “Adaptability, integrity, and resilience are essential traits. This industry requires round the clock availability and non-traditional working hours. Mental health and wellbeing, especially caring for your work life balance, is a must. Work-life balance is a key responsibility. Even if a role expects a lot of your time, it is on you to create that boundary between your work and personal life.”