My Story, Our Story: Paolo Longobardi

19 May 2015

The Alumni of BBS talk about themselves: what was before, what came after, and the memories of being a student. They open a window to their life to share a personal story and a narration of one’s own professional experience, to share a story of our Community.
The protagonist of the third episode is Paolo Longobardi, Senior Partner of Praxi SPA, a consulting company, EMBA 2, 2004-2005.

Paolo has chosen his soundtrack: the Penguin Café Orchestra, When in Rome. Or AC/DC, Thunderstruck!.


“I started dealing with HR in the Cenozoic era, which means I saw several professional generational changes.” Paolo Longobardi, talking about the beginning of his career, dares using a geological metaphor: by performing a core drilling it is possible to appreciate its cyclical nature and the stratification, over time. After a rather quick start at Praxi SPA, he became the CEO of a training institution, then the managing director of a couple of service companies and chairman for various Boards of Directors. Then an experience as general manager in an industrial association followed, ended with his return to Praxi SPA, where he now occupies his boss’ position a decade ago.

Paolo was asked to choose between talking about his typical day or a vision of his profession, and he went for the second. “I like thinking about myself as someone who may be useful to businesses, while earning doing it”, he summarizes quite naturally.


The story so far
Attending a Master was his dream, as a newly graduate student, hindered though by the luck of starting replying very early to job advertisements and by a speedy career. So speedy that it triggered criticism: many told him he was way too young for his job. That was the time when the mistakes that still burn today took place. For him, 75% of the work is done in collaboration with others, but that was precisely the time when, during the past, he wasn’t able to team up with some. “These are people who left, who made great careers after growing with us. It’s a mistake I learned a lot from, which I repeat very, very rarely these days”.

At last, the chance to take part in an Executive Master arrived, in parallel with his working activity. At last his dream came true, combined with the awareness of doing something important for his career. “It’s exciting sitting in a classroom filled with people who are very demanding of themselves. It forces you to constantly raise the bar, jump higher, run faster. You must learn to shoot better, going back to basketball”.


Baskets and potential
Basketball, the forever unrequited love. He defines himself as a team person, Paolo, so much so that the action he remembers with more affection is an assist to a fellow player. Not a three-pointer, not one more rebound: a surgical action leading the team to score a basket. Every player is the product of their team, every match the result of everyone’s work. But when the moment arrives to shoot at the basket, only one person is down there. It’s the validating gesture, the one bearing responsibility, the lonely instant that is a watershed between before and after, an expectation met by a promise that wasn’t kept.

“A significant book for me was ‘To a God Unknown’ by John Steinbeck. It’s about unexpressed potential and the possibility that unsuspected people may actually grow in the end. In this sense, my mentor was a friend, Giovanni, the type of person Americans call a natural. When we were 22, he helped me shifting from potential to actual, finding the capacity to express my potential”.


(Editor’s Note)
To the ears of who’s writing this, Paolo talks out of freed-up energies. Individuals who make the group, the team offering the player the chance, fortune granting hard work a chance and vice-versa. For him, perseverance is “the capacity of being consistently efficient and effective”. Freed-up energies and a tough built re-emerge also in relation to his way of dealing with work-life balance. Paolo made vows, several, that he manages to keep. The most important of all is to quarrel at least twice with his son, a 22-year-old rugby player. “It keeps me fit”, he says laughing.


“Because I’d known about it for a long time, because I trust the institution and the people who make it. I saw the BBS staff work very well, they’re positive and interesting people, they’re able to shape an exciting and entertaining environment. I couldn’t have done anything else but an Executive Master and I felt its programs were very close to my needs.”


A piece of advice to a student
“Study hard! Use the occasions you’ve found for yourself as much as you can, as no-one will give you anything for free. Choosing a Master is a truly important moment, it’ll allow you to acquire knowledge, notions, skills, you’ll be able to improve yourself thanks to the exchange with others. The fruits will arrive with time”.

Do you want to read more stories from the BBS Alumnae and Alumni Community? Click here.


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