BBS alumni talk about themselves: what was before, what came after and the memories of life as a student, to offer a personal story and a narration of one’s own professional experience, for a history of our Community. The protagonist of the XXI episode is Federica Ragusa, Sales Account at TeamSystem, MBA Evening.
Federica’s soundtrack is: TNT of AC/DC.
“A legacy I was left with after being in Japan. My drawings look like Manga and, more in general, they belong to the Fantasy genre. It’s something I keep to myself. It’s a way to unload, internally, and I share it only with friends and literally, within my four walls, at home. Actually, it’s something I’ve been doing since when I was young. I draw and then I take a photo, to consolidate the memory of it. I draw in black and white on walls, and only using pencils, because a sheet of paper has always been too small for my fantasy. And every time I had to move, I had to repaint the walls. I can’t help it”.
The Story so far
Federica isn’t a writer. She isn’t even a professional artist. Professionally and because of her training, Federica has mainly dealt with foreign languages. “I’m from Grottaglie, close to Taranto [region Apulia, Southern Italy], but I studied in Lecce, where there’s a very well-known course for interpreters and translators”. Travelling, communicating in different languages, this if Federica’s other passion, or better her vocation. “At university, you had to study English and a second oriental language, either Chinese or Japanese. At the time, the only native language lecturer was Japanese and this was decisive for my choice”. And there started the adventure that took her to England, France, the Netherlands, and many other countries, among which indeed Japan.
The “Marco Polo syndrome”
A new world. Federica describes this way her landing in the agri-food sales sector. After extensively travelling the world (study and tourism, both), she arrived in Bologna for an internship, recognized as an apprenticeship, with a remuneration that wasn’t enough to move there. It was a small company dealing with foreign trading. Nonetheless, Federica accepted those conditions in view of her professional growth. “I had to deal with all the contacts with wholesalers and foreign importers, and take care of sales. We also managed an outsourcing office with the Italian companies that didn’t have a specific department”. The first three months of internship became a three-year contract, during which she learnt to manage the back office and thus the role of export sales manager. The East and sales. These are two of Federica’s passions for which we could coin the expression “the Marco Polo syndrome”. With the agri-food sector she actually went back to her roots. “My father has always worked as sales manager in the wine sector. When I was young, I used to help him, in the summer, in wineries and stores. In Apulia it’s a common job, because a lot of the economy revolves around the vineyards. The Primitivo wine is from Manduria, close to home”.
A short spell in the B2C financial sector and then three more years in profile recruiting for companies. “From interns, to middle management, up to executives.” Federica worked on two fronts: analysing the candidates’ skills and finding how to best fit them into the corporate process. “The method was to learn listening to the candidates. From an operative interview, you can gather a lot from people. For your own growth as well.” At that point, Federica found herself at a juncture: either turning to HR or devote herself to the sales sector, as the candidates’ “placement” job was a commercial one. And Federica’s vocation reappeared. She decided for a career in sales but with a new company dealing with IT systems. “I look for new clients and propose solutions that are suited to the company needs, analysing their functional processes”. At this point she encountered BBS. And she made her big jump in terms of skills.
“The idea of attending a Master’s course came from the desire to complete my skills.” Federica arrived at BBS thanks to the contacts her company has with the School. “It was my current boss, who’d attended a Master’s at BBS, who directed me to Villa Guastavillani. I shared with him this desire to bridge the gaps”. Now Federica is able to talk with her clients about budget cash flow, she strengthened the digital side of herprofession, she has more awareness of the sales part, she learnt the rules of finance.” Much of my professional know-how comes from practice. I needed a theoretical overview to bring inside the company framework. I now have a systematic approach. Especially for subjects such as admin, accounting and finance, they’d been unknown to me up to then. I could deal with sales figures, certainly not with the financial aspect.” Result? As of this year, from the end of January, Federica is in charge of a company branch of which she manages everything, from sales people to technical consultants.
A piece of advice to a student
“Deciding to do two things at a time is a challenge”. Federica was faced with the sacrifice of working and studying. “Once the day at work had ended, it wasn’t easy going to school from 6 until 10 p.m., but it was important. First of all, because my effort was rewarded and I moved forward to managerial tasks and my career took a leap ahead. All this sacrifice also develops personal motivation. I discovered that with will and motivation, you can do anything.” And the added value of an experience at BBS: “besides the skills you acquire, you meet people with whom to share your experiences. Meeting smart minds triggers new ideas, from different professional viewpoints. The power of the network is to continuously provide opportunities. I’d say to a student: take advantage of it to the very end”.
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