Let’s go back to where it all began. What memories do you have of your university years at Luiss?
I hold many fond memories. Thanks to the size of Luiss, I had the opportunity to build relationships with professors and peers. Moreover, the syllabus made up of case histories and paperwork allowed me to adopt a concrete and tangible approach to tasks assigned. I was lucky enough to participate in the Luiss Sport program, which began when I started university, and to play on the basketball team. A wonderful initiative that I have seen grow over time and that has allowed me to combine my sporting ambitions and continue my studies.
What are the lessons learned through playing sports at university?
Unlike those who become professional athletes and then build a future after their sports career, for me it has been a great training ground in terms of understanding about group dynamics, locker room management, and leadership. These are valuable lessons that are applicable to the professional realm.
Draw a timeline of your career. What are your key milestones?
After graduation, I went through a period of orientation and exploration. I did community service for a short time and then went to China to develop an edutainment robot for children. I worked in the toys market without any work experience, but I had a driven mindset. Then I came back to Italy, I continued to work in this fantastic sector for three years at a Sardinian company, which grew exponentially. I moved to New York and then to Dublin. After this adventure phase, I joined Bain & Company with the goal of building my mental toolbox, thanks to the possibility to oversee different projects on multiple clients and industries. After 4 years, however, I lacked that ownership of projects, team management and resources, so I moved to Philip Morris, a company that invests in its people and training, and offers interesting job rotation opportunities that allowed me to move between the fields of strategy, marketing, and sales in the southern regions of Italy. I then returned to Rome as Head of Marlboro. I approached the digital world and then accepted the challenge of De’Longhi, taking me to Veneto to manage strategic marketing and lead the entire digital transformation of the group. For a year and a half, I have also been following the e-commerce and the global management at Amazon.
Your experiences call on challenges and innovations, in short, your passion comes through. What transformations have you seen in the digital industry?
The world is moving faster, and the situation is more fluid. This is also true for the digital world. The approach is to observe these rapid transformations and changes in the digital world by putting the consumer’s logic into perspective with a lens that can identify needs from a business viewpoint. I try to keep updated about the developments and changes in technology. I also have a team of about 30 people. They are the real talents who grasp the latest developments that I rely on to make things happen, offering them the framework of the business.
What has changed in the last two years of the pandemic?
There is no doubt that consumer behavior has changed with Covid, although in some cases I would argue it is more accurate to talk about an acceleration. During the pandemic, those who did not buy online, in particular those markets like Italy where ecommerce is not yet mature, discovered that the credit card fear is irrational and in fact, the user experience can be easier.
“Experience” seems to be today’s key word. How much work is there behind the scenes of the digital world?
There is a lot of study that is going to be more in-depth for a series of factors. Firstly, because the consumer journey mapping or service design has many purposes (that goes beyond communicating a company’s value proposition to consumers), it is necessary to understand the user journey who was unaware of the brand, begins to consider purchase options, and makes purchase transactions.
So, the wonderful thing about digital is that it manages to take care of different digital touch points i.e., the website, email, social media, apps, and put them into a system, creating a real experience for consumers who are increasingly demanding and used to having an open dialogue, which is another significant challenge of today’s brands. Many people are afraid to enter the social media world because they have to interact with consumers. This great paradigm changed in the last 10 years.
What will happen to the physical dimension?
The physical dimension certainly will not disappear. There is a lot of talk about omni-channel journey. The physical dimension will always exist, especially for a category like ours, i.e., understanding the forms and sizes of high receipt and products. Despite the growth of e-commerce in recent years, retail will never disappear. Business formulas will change. Retail will be increasingly service-oriented, and be key for the discovery part of our products, but no, it will not disappear! Surely, for retail chains to survive, they must optimize their operational structure to make the business sustainable. We will increasingly try to combine the two and not create competing channels.
Steve Jobs once said, “you can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backward connect the dots you only have to look behind”. What is your advice for a young graduate who is going through that orientation period you were talking about earlier?
I would say don’t wait! I, mistakenly, waited until I graduated to see what was out there beyond university. Try to maximize any kind of exposure to the corporate world, that means internships, apprenticeships, discussing with company employers. Also, get out there, participate and follow events, blogs, and podcasts in the sector, because by now the gap between university and the job world has diminished. In other words, stay curious. And I think that is a valid tip for people of all ages!
Virginia Gullotta, Journalist