Dimitri Papakonstantinou Managing Director ASI, shares his extensive experience & knowledge about Expo 2020, current projects, and plans for the future with Design Middle East.

His knowledge, extensive experience, and strong business acumen are incomparable. He has a vision on creating cultures that are flexible and innovative and helps in building a great team than just merely making the strategies. Meet Dimitri Papakonstantinou, managing director at Al Shafar Interiors (ASI) who is all this and much more. Papakonstantinou emphasises: "My focus had always been on building a culture and it is fundamental for building a good team. I firmly believe in the expression by legendary management consultant and writer Peter Drucker, 'Culture eats strategy for breakfast'. Clearly, you cannot underestimate the power of culture."

Papakonstantinou started his career journey with Murray & Roberts Construction in South Africa in 2000. Four years later, he was promoted in his role and shifted his base to UAE where he was responsible for managing large-scale commissions such as Madinat Jumeirah and Dubai International Airport (Airside projects). In 2008, Papakonstantinou launched Plafond Fit-Out, he was one of the found members.

In 2018, Papakonstantinou joined ASI, a  subsidiary of ASGC Construction, headquartered in the UAE. With just over a year in his new role, Papakonstantinou had a busy 2019, despite the overall market slowdown. He says: "The market overall is going through a slowdown. As a business, we've gone through some major transformations and we're excited about them. Last year, we received a lot of enquiries from different sectors like education, commercial, public, and we successfully completed various hospitality projects."

As Dubai is gearing up for the biggest show in its history—Expo 2020, it's expected that this mega event will boost the economy with an estimated AED123bn as a result of the investment, tourism, and other revenue streams. Both ASGC and ASI are also doing various pavilions for Expo 2020. Papakonstantinou shares: "Expo 2020, has impacted all the businesses positively especially ours. We have done some amazing works for the Sustainability Pavilion, and then there are other five other pavilions we're involved in like Ukraine, Australian,  and Azerbaijan. We have made separate departments to just focus on Expo 2020 projects for the next eight-nine months."

There is so much buzz around Expo 2020 but what happens once the greatest show gets over? Papakonstantinou has his concerns: "It can be difficult to gauge the effect of such an event after it's over. However, case studies have shown, that there are tangible benefits for our industry that come out of organising such an event. Beyond Expo 2020 I am aware of the slowdown that might occur in the market. I am also feeling positive about the good and decent amount of work that is there with the right clients. We just have to work a little bit harder getting that work in."

Papakonstantinou is from the modern school of thought and highly value the role of technology in business operations. He explains: "Our focus is on technology, fortunately, we have a company in our group called Analytica which has been assisting us with innovative systems and software.

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