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 first episode is Federico Palomba, Head of Marketing, Digital, Fan Relationship Management – Juventus Football Club, who attended the first BBS Master, ICT Management, 2001.
Federico has chosen his soundtrack: Star Guitar, Chemical Brothers.
“My job… grandma wouldn’t understand”. Federico’s job isn’t a little flag you can put in the traditional scale model of a city, like the lawyer over the court or the bank employee over a large Dollar sign. Federico works at Juventus Football Club and deals with Marketing and the Digital operations. Probably, before a scale model of his city, he’d grin at the black and white zebra crossings.
The story so far
“I almost consistently worked in traditional contexts, with the need to change, to shift the business over to the digital side”. Before working at the national pastime, Federico was at Corriere della Sera, Google and Ferrari. Very quietly, he admits he’s privileged: he’s always worked at products he liked. Being “the web dude” in the roaring Zero Years wasn’t a leisurely stroll. “I was lucky enough to witness a few innovations being implemented in the companies, both at the business and from the organizational point of view. But it also occurred that the boss would call me to tell me his PC didn’t work. Those moments made it clear how hard it was to let people understand what I was actually doing”. Then Google came, and then friends were the ones who wouldn’t understand. “You must be crazy to sell an empty site”, he quotes from memory. In the end, though, Love conquers all.
The courting starts with a night buzz, a computer’s, while downloading music. That thing called Internet is intriguing for Federico, already in the second half of the ’90s, so much that he’d like to transform his desire to put his hands on it into a proper job. He also understands his passion for things digital is not enough. He’d like to bridge some gaps. Thus he manages to win a scholarship at Columbia University, to attend the courses that will start just four months after obtaining his degree, in October 2001. A few days before his departure, an unforgettable day in that year comes: 9/11. Federico can’t leave. He looks around, in search of an alternative to what he would have found in New York. The answer arrives through the mouth of love, browsing the Internet. He finds the first Italian MBA on ICT Management: he goes from Manhattan to the hills surrounding Bologna. Goodbye plane, hello train as Federico makes it his preferred means of transport. First BBS in Bologna, to study, then Modena for his internship at Ferrari, as a part of his Master. Then Rome, Milan, and Turin follow.
Sunday at last!
“There’s a statement I read somewhere: it’s not a question of doing digital marketing, but of doing marketing in a digital world.” Federico talks willingly about his job at Juventus. He’s been there for the last four years, the longest he’s spent in a given company. He says 75% of his job is done together with others, their working schedules once again would leave grandma bewildered. “When the rest of the world rests and has fun, we work. We spend our Sundays focusing on the match, and August is one of the most complicated months”.
At one point I ask Federico what is perseverance. He replies it’s mostly bravery, together with a great confidence in one’s own choices. “People often tend to think that the brave are those who upset and turn the establishment upside down. Over time, thanks to examples close to me, my wife in the first place, I understood that’s not the case. There’s much more bravery in making things go on”. Someone else, thinking along the same lines, might have said that perseverance is strength. In Federico’s words though there’s a different perspective. It’s a blend of sense of responsibility and feeling present to oneself, stretched like a Fibonacci sequence and with the Alps as a backdrop. I tease him and tell him that what he’s saying sounds terribly like what someone from Turin would say. Federico discloses his cards and tells me he was born and grew up there. “I’d never thought I’d come back to live here, I did it for Juventus. I have a very low level of tolerance for this place and it’s the indicator of the extent to which I can’t bear certain sides of me”. Besides a great deal of ‘Turinness’, Federico’s words sound very much like the words of those who familiarized with the Internet between 1995 and 2002: electronic music, the initial crush for file sharing, having overcome the bursting of the Internet bubble and a lot of questions on the social effects of the net.
Did you use to read Rekombinant?
“I don’t believe in long speeches, made by the patriarch sitting in his chair, perhaps because long speeches don’t suit me.” Federico has two daughters, aged five and six, his gagne (little girls in the Turin dialect). He has a few questions in mind on how to educate young people to use digital tools. “We call them digital natives, but being able to use an iPad doesn’t mean you know what technology is. I think there isn’t much awareness, even more so among people my age, as they’re convinced they know because they spend all day on Facebook”. We talk about Coder Dojo, but I can sense him shaking his head “Why? Why should coding be more important to a child than being able to play a musical instrument well?”. We keep on talking, he thinks back about himself, as an adolescent and about how his gagne’s adolescence might be. What will it mean to arrive at the threshold of adult age with a photographic record of one’s own adolescent experiences on the social networks?
A piece of advice to a student
“My suggestion is to understand well what type of life you want to lead. Before your job, the type of career or profession, before knowing how much you want to earn, you should make the effort to really understand what that type of life implies. During job interviews I always say: you know, we work weekends here; when your friends invite you to a wedding you’re at the match; no way you can go on holiday in August. I often find myself faced with young women and men, in their late twenties, who open their eyes wide. It’s a shame, because they put a lot of the enthusiasm people have at that age into something that, perhaps, doesn’t belong to them. There’s something else as well: jobs change, and it’s weird to see so many young people drawn towards five or six professions that have been around for 50 years. New opportunities exist, you need to be brave and go and look for them. At times you end up down a funnel. Less than 10 years ago, my job didn’t even exist”.
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