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Who is Grigoratos Theodoros, Theo?

Updated: Jun 29

On a late May 2018 evening, after having spent all day in conferences, sipping on cold beverages, I asked Theo about his day. While looking over the beautiful harbor in the Hague with the endless lines of pleasure boats, Theo responded that any day not talking about brake emissions is a good day. Theo’s turn to speak about the subject matter was the next day. I could sense that his mind was racing, reviewing his presentation and panel discussion, trying to predict the questions from the participants and after all deciding that “Oh, well, I have thought about it long and hard enough, let’s enjoy the moment.” I know the feeling. I have been there, done that. But what puzzled me most was his definition of a “good day”, making me ponder that if not talking about brake emission is good, then what are better and best days for Theo?


Grigoratos Theodoros, known amongst his friends and collogues as “Theo,” was born and raised in Preveza, a small town in the west coast of Greece. Theo and his younger sister grew up helping their parents in their family business. The 24/7 family café taught him the value of hard work as a means of achieving your goals and getting ahead. Having been surrounded by nature growing up in a small coastal town in Greece, Theo developed an interest in protecting and preserving the environment.


After finishing high school, he enrolled in Chemistry at the University of Thessaloniki. Theo very much enjoyed and appreciated the vivid multicultural life of Thessaloniki. He completed his bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemistry and was lucky enough to receive a scholarship towards his PhD to follow his dream of becoming an environmentalist. As a young scientist, Theo was influenced by many of his professors, especially Professor Themistoklis Kouimtzis who taught him how to be himself. That gave him the confidence to go on and evolve as a person. Another influential person in his career to follow was Giorgio Martini, current deputy head of Unit at the EC's JRC.


Since Greece was going through some economical turmoil making it a challenge to find a job, Theo was forced to look beyond its borders. In 2013 a job opportunity presented itself at the European Commission’s Joint Research Center. He migrated to Italy without thinking about it twice. Theo joined a community of like-minded scientists in a cosmopolitan, multilingual institute. There, he had to transition from academia to a science policy organization. Luckily, he worked along with professionals who made it easy for him to integrate smoothly. Theo worked in project management, as a policy officer preparing relevant regulations, and of course, science research in the field of air pollution and sustainable transport.


Among his achievements to date are the development of the first-ever regulations on brake particle emissions and tire abrasion. Both are important milestones in Theo’s career. UN Global Technical Regulation number 24 to reduce brake PM and PN emissions and UN Regulation number 117  to reduce microplastic emissions from tires, respectively. What makes Theo proud is that for nearly two decades, he has been serving the common good. Theo believes that knowledge is never final and that there is always room for learning and improvement if one keeps a positive attitude. He has learned to admire reliability, respect, and common sense. Setbacks are opportunities for Theo to investigate what went wrong and try to find a solution. Nothing personal.        


Significant challenges of his multicultural work are to bring the stakeholders

together. Often people of different interests. To Theo, work is a never-ending phenomenon no matter how hard one goes about it. There will always be more work for tomorrow, so he tries to leave work on time to pick up his daughter from school. If he faces challenges to keep his personal and professional lives balanced, he finishes the task on hand and takes time off to reboot and reset. As for long term plans, Theo is content to continue working towards a cleaner environment, whether at his current job or something similar.


He has learned that people from different walks of life, with entirely different interests and aspirations can collaborate smoothly. Never to trust experts who claim know it all. Theo doesn’t take anything for granted. He patiently conducts research, doubts, and waits for the reward. He keeps a semblance of balance by participating in sports, watching movies, and spending time with his family.


I trusted Theo when he said any day I don’t talk about brake emission is a good day. Then I realized that his better days are the ones that he does work on brake emission and attends different conferences to report his work.  As for his best days, those are spent with his daughter. Priceless!



Editor's note: We are seeking to highlight the professional journeys of individuals who have made significant contributions to Brake Technology or Business. Referrals are encouraged.

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