Pantelis Karanikolau: “Schiller taught me how to think out of the box | Schiller International University Skip to main content Skip to footer

*Interview by Sonia Alegre, Schiller Alumni


Pantelis Karanikolaou graduated from Schiller International University in Madrid, in June 1997 with a double major in Economics and International Relations and Diplomacy. He has developed a successful career in the financial sector working for solution providers and consulting firms in Bangkok, Thailand, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Dublin. Originally from Greece, he currently works in London as a business solution architect at BCM Temenos Offering.

Why did you choose Schiller Madrid?

Schiller was the best option I had in Spain. I had graduated from an American high school where I did the international baccalaureate and I didn´t speak Spanish so Schiller offered me a good opportunity to continue my studies in English.  

What did you like best about Schiller´s methodology?

Schiller gave me the flexibility to study what I wanted and to study 2 degrees at the same time. Although originally I started studying economics, over the years I discovered that if you had the same base classes, with extra credits you could do a second degree, so I have a Major Bachelor of Arts in Economics and International Relations and Diplomacy, 2 Bachelor Degrees at the same time. I graduated in June 1997, and I was the second-best GPA in Schiller with 3.7

What key takeaways, experiences or connections from Schiller Madrid have you found to be most helpful for you in your career path and life?

The most important thing that Schiller taught me was how to think out of the box. Of course, I learned econometrics, mathematics, macroeconomics, etc. but Schiller taught me how to think, specifically how to think out of the box and how to think in life, which doesn't come in the books.

What I studied has nothing to do with what I do now as a solutions architect, but I couldn't do my current job if I had not been taught how to think. In the beginning, I was an idealist and looked for a job in pure economics because I wanted to work for an organization that works on econometrics and defines the market makers and market players. My first job was in this field, in Reuters, providing real-time econometric info to brokers, bankers, and asset managers, but then eventually in Accenture, I went into the banking area, specifically into the implementation of banking systems, implementation of payment systems, front ends, digital transformation, and I started moving into this area and I have been working extensively and exclusively in the implementation of anything that has to do with financial applications implementation, front end and things like that. As a solutions architect, I have to talk to the customer and understand and listen to their requirements and provide them with a solution which can be something easy or it might be a bigger process. I am responsible for telling the clients what they need, putting together a team, the project plan, deliverables, timelines, etc.

 So, I took the thinking of the learning system at Schiller and applied it to my current job and life in general. This is why Behavioral Aspects, from Larry Heglar, was so important because I talk to a person, they tell me something, then I think why did they tell me this, you analyze it and then I have an answer. This was very helpful at the beginning. It helped me put a facade, have a technical hat, now a sales hat, and speak different languages with different people.

What other memories does Schiller bring to you?

I remember very well all my teachers, especially Larry Heglar as I mentioned. Behavioral Aspects has helped me over the years because it taught me how to put myself in the right position when I talk to a client or when I do an interview, or in any situation in life, it puts you in the right context.

 I also remember Luna, a professor of Economics, we had a lot of classes with him. Luna had political approaches too to economics and he taught us how to look at economics in combination with politics. Many times, I had arguments with him in class, but when I graduated he said I was the best in his economics class, and that he had never had somebody to confront him so much and, with the right opinions.

 And I remeber dearly Paloma García-Casenave, for Spanish, I usually took classes with her in the summer.

 And, of course, I also remember my fellow student colleagues. We were a multi-crew, really, very diverse. We had some very rich people, we had foreign students, and we had people who wanted to be independent. There was a mixture of people that was very enriching and that helped me understand life better. I was a foreigner in Spain and this mix of people also helped me understand better how people believe, behave, they think. It was a good opportunity to learn more, especially because I was coming from a closed conservative society in Greece, and moving to Spain with so many foreign students, Spanish, Italians, Serbians, etc, I had the opportunity to expand my mind, and to open up my mind extremely which helped me later for the future as I ended up living in 7 different countries.

 But, I remember Giuseppe Fortunato. Also, I remember we were invited by Lorenzo Sanz Junior to Santiago Bernabeu stadium. And my best friend from Schiller, Tito Jimenez, and my colleagues from ICS in La Moraleja, Elena and Ana de Pedro came also to Schiller later. It was a good environment, very eclectic. One weekend we could end up in a cheap place having drinks in Chueca or Bilbao and then we could go to high-end expensive places like Fortuny or similar.

Any secret crushes?

You, hahaha.

Name two Schiller alumni that are worth a profile in this blog:

José Manuel Fernández Sigmund and Ana and Elena de Pedro.

Any message from your younger self to Schiller students?

My advice would be, first of all, to learn. Try to be a good student. These are the best years of your life. Learn as much as you can now that your mind is young, and you can do a lot. And, of course, be the best student you can but also try to have a good time because once university is over, life starts.

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