From the Executive MBA to the assignment with the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the fascination of “connecting the dots”

21 September 2021

by Dario Ciampoli, MBA. 

Program Manager for the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers – Department for the Digital Transformation, Co-chairman of the BBS Alumni Association. 

In describing my professional journey, I can’t help but think about how I “connected the dots” to get here. I’m referring, of course, to Steve Jobs‘ famous speech at Stanford University:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future”.

So, let’s start from the end, that is, from my last assignment, which more than anything else allows me to understand the meaning of my human and professional path. Today I work at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and, actively participating in the program of the digital transformation of the country, I had to radically change perspective. Collaborating on projects with the eyes of the Citizen and with the awareness of contributing to the needs of the community is, in fact, a very different experience from the typical corporate one.

Impacted by a pandemic emergency context, a number of strategic growth and development interventions are being launched that will allow Citizens to work with state-of-the-art infrastructures using integrated services.

Specifically, I deal with interoperability between Administrations and front-end solutions for Citizens, realized according to the founding principle of the Once Only, which provides for the request of data, to citizens and businesses, only once and only for those data and information that are not already in possession of the Administration itself. This is undoubtedly an epoch-making turning point for the Public Administration.

This new opportunity also gives me a new perspective on my entire journey. I feel that I have connected a new dot, with the awareness that I will only be able to see the final picture at the end, at the end of my professional journey, which I am trying to retrace here, trying, with my experience, to show that no step, no dot, is useless: everything helps to make us the people we must become. 

When I started, it was impossible, even by casting my gaze into the future, to understand what everything I was experiencing would have materialized into. I was able to do it only twenty years later, looking back and understanding the value of each individual step, with its positive experiences, but, above all, with the less positive ones.

In the second half of the ’90s, in the middle of the new economy, with a university education in computer science, I entered the world of work full of motivation and expectations, moving from user support to computer consulting. I took this decision partly to be able to pay for my travels to reach the woman who would later become my wife, but even more to prove, not only to myself, that the theory must be consolidated through the comparison with the daily reality and the actual needs of customers.

A few years later, at the end of an experience in a large company, which had been highly formative, both from a professional and a human point of view, I felt the desire and the professional need to try a different path and breathe new air. At that juncture, a colleague said something that struck me: “What do you think you’ll find out there?” 

That question often echoes in my mind, like a fundamental watershed. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I certainly know that I was eager to grow, curious to discover new technologies, meet new people, have new experiences, feeling that pleasant fear that every job change can generate, since it implies the inevitable transition from one’s comfort zone to an unknown context, starting all over again. And this desire has never left me.

After several years, I can say that I have experienced at least five other times, in as many companies or corporate roles, that strong drive for change, while moving through diverse contexts and taking on new tasks and responsibilities. All this combined with the most intense training experience of the last three decades: my beloved Executive MBA.

The Executive MBA is at the center of a network that has connected all my working lives, thanks to a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary training, which is still today, as in the past, a critical success factor in the complex mechanism of “multiplying opportunities“.

I’d like to end this contribution, which I hope will not be the last, but rather the first of a series that will keep me and you company during my new professional commitment, by sharing the three main themes that have characterized my way of working.

The first is attention for the individual, as opposed to what I call “the management of arrogance”. I have had the opportunity to get to know many people, both male and female colleagues and real teammates, with whom I have shared experiences, victories, defeats and even glimpses of personal life. The attention I have always paid to relationship management has characterized my interpersonal approach, whatever the working or hierarchical relationship. The willingness to listen and the openness to points of view different from one’s own represents an element of personal and professional growth and enhancement. From this point of view, fortunately, the aspect related to kindness in management is a value that is recently being rediscovered, after a few years of weakening in favor of the management of arrogance, in which authority has often had the better over authoritativeness. 

The second theme is the manager’s ability to ensure and facilitate managerial and decision-making autonomy for their associates. With the passage of time, with growth and with experience, one can run the risk of losing some of one’s own ability to implement and can become inclined to manage what others accomplish directly. In recent years, I have often been led to reflect on the ability to delegate but accompanying it with the ability to support staff along the path to growth, making them autonomous.

The third and last theme, but no less important, is the opportunity to make mistakes. Starting from the assumption that every experience, whether negative or positive, constitutes an important stage, I remember failures as the occasions that gave me the most profound lessons. Once the disappointment of the moment has passed, the rationalization of the error constitutes the most precious step, which, in a business context, passes through two distinct moments: the inner (personal) one and the shared (collective or team) one.

Connecting all of these themes, a common thread in all of my dots, are people. The people you meet and relate to are the most important thing. Once this premise has been established, the direction towards which you will direct the next dot depends only on you, your behaviors, and your way of being.


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