Yianni Liberopoulos did not have it easy.
In episode 2 of Humans of Tech, we discuss his childhood, the education system, throwing himself into work, and his career to date.
At an early age, he moved with his parents from Athens to 90s Britain. A new kid in a new country, Yianni found it difficult to settle at school in Sheffield.
Meanwhile, Yianni’s home life was constantly blighted by violence and trauma. His father, when he was just 7, took Yianni to live with him overseas on an arduous overland journey back to Greece.
As a result, Yianni learned to operate on a high sense of alert from very early on. Trust didn’t come easy.
Today, Yianni is a Consultant and Leader in Change & Technology. While a combination of talent, intelligence and drive has led him to a successful career, Yianni acknowledges that the events of his early childhood have also played a defining role in his professional life.
Ultimately, Yianni’s story is one of triumph in the face of adversity. His resilience and determination saw him overcome a turbulent upbringing, and forge a happy, successful life for himself and his family.
Here’s what you can expect from the episode:
Overcoming imposter syndrome
Yianni’s early experiences in life fostered a deep sense of imposter syndrome within him.
“I've had this sense of embarrassment and imposter syndrome, that I'm trying to be something that I'm not,” he says.
It’s a feeling he continues to struggle with to this day, and something that he’s felt in all aspects of his life, from playing football as a child to building a career in tech.
Ultimately, Yianni has come to accept that it’s normal to feel vulnerable and question one’s sense of belonging. Now, he realises that he is where is as a result of his abilities and efforts, not just his past.
“It's taken me a long, long time to understand that, I am where I am, because of the choices I've made and because of the path that I've chosen,” he says.
Flaws in the education system
With so much going on at home, Yianni feels his life could have gone either way.
But even as a young child, he had the drive, determination and awareness not to let that happen. Instead of sliding into the chaos, he used his experiences as fuel to motivate him towards success.
Academically, Yianni applied himself and excelled, earning a place at university, where he pursued a career in law. At the time, it felt like the natural next step. Looking back, he feels flaws in the education system offered him little choice but to follow the status quo.
“I still think the education system is so academic and focused on natural academics and redbrick curriculums, that it doesn't allow – and maybe it's starting to transition – allow for discussions like this. Where you understand the mechanics of how somebody works.
“Now, actually, I know exactly what type of environment I thrive in professionally because I understand my innate skills.”
Escapism through work
Throughout his life, work has been the one constant for Yianni. So much so that, at points, it became a release – a way to escape and deal with other issues.
Though bittersweet, he suggests that his turbulent upbringing built resilience within him, one that would ultimately help him succeed professionally.
“You have to remember that what it does is it adds a layer of resilience that means that not very much else is difficult,” he says.
“That's why I've had a steep trajectory,” he adds. “Whilst most people are sort of growing up striving to have a level of education, or a level of appreciation, or status, or something, all of that stuff just came to me.
“Because nothing ever really worried me, or would ever come to the point where I would ever feel so scared or intimidated or anxious as I've ever been in any of those other situations.”
But this built-in reliance has come at a price. Over the course of his life, Yianni has struggled to deal with the trauma of his formative years, which has taken a heavy toll on his mental health. In the last three years, Yianni feels like he’s finally begun to deal with the root cause of his issues, although there’s still a long way to go.
It was a privilege to talk with Yianni and bring you his remarkable story. Be sure to watch the full inspiring episode here, and subscribe to the podcast.
Download or Watch the Full Episode Now
That was just a fraction of Yianni’s remarkable story and career.
For the rest of this truly unmissable episode, head over to your favourite streaming platform, or watch it via our site.
Watch the full episode here.