The old adage “it’s a man’s world” does not apply to Lefkada-native Eirini Argyrou, the first female in Greek history to be appointed to the position of Port Authority Chief, in Chios where she has worked the last 14 years.
The road to marking this milestone was one of endless study, discipline and sheer determination, to the extent her own mother had lamented it did not seem likely Argyrou would marry.
After completing her studies, which included chemical engineering, Argyrou submitted her application to the Coastal Guard and hasn’t looked back.
Intelligent, articulate, attractive with a steely determination she is also a mother to 14-year-old daughter, Elli, and is the first to admit one of her biggest challenges is maintaining a balance between fulfilling her duty as a mother and her responsibility at the helm of a major port in what has been a difficult time for Greece, and for Chios.
Fortunately, Elli has long since adjusted to her mother’s work obligation and sense of duty. Argyrou is quick to admit that if Elli was not on board with her line of work it would not be possible to remain in this industry.
Steered by ethics, dignity, respect and human rights, Argyrou credits her strict discipline as a source of her success, but also acknowledges the role luck has played.
Navigating the waters of a male-dominated industry, Argyrou quickly gained the esteem of her male colleagues who respected her for her hard work and dedication. Argyrou worked alongside them on the front line, wanting to experience firsthand all that she would need to know to be able to handle situations from an office environment.
On the topic of the humanitarian-refugee crisis in Chios, she recalls the events of April of 2015, with thousands of people flowing through, as she worked with her colleagues from dawn to dusk, clad in gloves and facemasks. “We could not understand how this had happened and asked ourselves when it would end. We got used to it. We tried and continue to try to get through it,“ Argyrou says. “It has been an emotional few years. The most emotional I have ever been, and also the angriest.”
Spurred by the magnitude of catastrophe she has witnessed in Chios, Argyrou has set her sights on creating a postgraduate study program in Crisis Management.