Dear Friend, Dear Reader, Dear Casual Visitor,
We always celebrate birthdays and some anniversaries. But do you all recall your first day at work?
I have to say that I’ve had many first days. Work started as an early experience for me. My father owned a Bar in central Nuoro, and I started helping out very early as a kid. I recall putting in order the small bottles of fruit juice in the refrigerator at around 6. Or preparing the first espresso standing on a plastic box. Around 14, I started doing full shifts at the bar, serving at the table, cleaning and learning to prepare ice-creams. I still recall the moment when the preparation process was over, and you’d open the ice-cream maker to let it flow into the service containers. No way I could avoid dipping a spoon into that soft mass, ensuring the taste was just perfect. Early quality control was simply necessary 🤓
During my university years, I added a long experience working in a Students NGO. I moved to Brussels as I served on the board of AEGEE Europe, the European Student’s Forum. A voluntary role, that period completely absorbed me and shaped my personality a lot more than my studies. It’s during that experience that I understood the relevance of individuals within organisations. There I made the deliberate choice to work with people as part of my future. But I didn’t know precisely how.
After my graduation in International Affairs and Diplomacy, I did a postgraduate master in Business Administration. As part of that, I did an internship at Trieste’s Business Innovation Center. There I learned about business cases, start-ups funding, accounting, operations support. Although the core idea was to support entrepreneurship, I was often missing the Human Factor into the picture.
Scouting through job ads, I found one that read Human Capital Consultant. I must admit I wasn’t completely clear of what it meant. Still, the idea of Human Capital sounded appealing and innovative. I gave it a shot and got my first Job Offer.
I moved to Milan. As I entered the offices of Summit on October 1st 2000, I realised this would have been my first paid employment. An important step, even if I didn’t precisely understand what my journey would be from the moment on. The choice of taking care go humans at work was, however, a definitive choice on my path.
At Summit, I worked with Franco d’Egidio, a genuinely prolific author of management books and visionary advisor for many of the most fascinating Italian entrepreneurs. I helped writing three books for him and supported him in endless presentations and projects. Through him, I understood the importance of having a Vision and the relevance of Authentic Leadership in bringing it to practice. Above all the difference that a passionate individual (a champion he would name it) could do for a team and a company. As I toured many firms, I also grew disillusioned of many of the features of organisations such as rigidity, bureaucracy, excessive control, secrecy, unethical behaviours.
Twenty years after as I look back, I can see some conscious choices and a lot of emergent opportunities in my journey. To those that ask, I often mention that career is often about being at the right spot at the right moment. Yet, I clearly see a consolidation of my personal purpose over time.
These twenty years have seen a lot of changes in the environment—terrorist attacks, wars, financial crisis, technology disruptions, global warming, pandemics. Personally, I moved across 7 houses, 3 countries, working in projects for over 100 different companies in 25 various industries in 15 countries. I kept playing with Technology as part of my job, always considering it a tool, never an end. Yet, every day I continued to learn that impact is the direct effect of the passions and hearts of individuals and teams. And this across countries and cultures. The more Diverse a group was, the more the multiple impacts would complement each other, creating exponential values for the ecosystems.
This was also the richness that I tried to instil in my teams as a manager and my colleagues as a peer.
As I look ahead for my next twenty (and hopefully more) years of work, I genuinely see my purpose complementing with a mission of bringing back human into HR.
We need a new humanism, able to focus on the centrality of the women and men that through their work every day ensure a flourishing society.
Organisations must play a vital role in this. By overcoming the limits of individuals, they need to build the necessary cells of a new ecosystem. This touches all types of organisation, both profit and non-profit, public and private, governmental and non-governmental. But we need to reform every organisation thoroughly, freeing them from tayloristic reductionism and imperative financialisation.
I start my next challenges for the future with this idea in mind. I don’t know where the journey will lead me to. I must admit, I don’t particularly care in knowing this now. I just know that I will possess a strong compass to make the right choice at every turn. Based on my memories, for sure, but also on an endless willingness to learn and transform.
This is also the meaning of this open letter. It is also a way to thank you all for being (or have been) a big part of this journey. Because every person I met, and every person I will meet contributes to this ongoing flow of meaning about the real value of our shared multifaceted journeys.
A big and warm thank you to all, for having made this a fantastic ride so far.
This Open Letter was originally published in my Newsletter “The Intentional Organisation” on October 1st, 2020.