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, to form a history of our Community. The protagonist of the XXVIII is Giorgio Montanari, CIO presso Beghelli S.p.A. EMBA XI.
Giorgio's soundtrack is “Seven Minute Mind”, by The Bad Plus.
“During the master's at BBS, I had to reconcile my work for a company and studying, finding the right concentration after long, hectic days wasn't easy at all. Music, mostly jazz, helped me focus on the topic at hand. It was an experience that involved me completely, one that managed to support the effort by stimulating my curiosity”. What Giorgio isn't saying, is that the song he's chosen, his soundtrack, as a source of inspiration, is the most geometrical, angular and irregular piece you can find on the music market. Could this be a clue?
The story so far
Giorgio is from Romagna [Emilia-Romagna region], from a small town called Alfonsine, not far from Ravenna but close to the “border”, close to another small town, Argenta, belonging to a different province, Ferrara. Proud to be from Romagna. No hesitations though when he had to move to Bologna. A betrayal done for the most important of reasons: love. “I studied in Ravenna, accounting with IT specialization. Then, University in Bologna, Statistical Sciences. A year spent in Madrid with the Erasmus scheme and then a few specialization courses in Digital Transformation in Milan, as there were none in Bologna. Finally, in 2012 the enrolment for the EMBA.” In short, Giorgio's education. His professional story though is much more complex, rich in technical and, particularly, human aspects.
Giorgio got his degree in statistical and economic sciences in a period when technologies were exploding. “The year 2000 and the switch from Lira to Euro were just round the corner, companies needed to update their technologies. For those who had IT skills, that period was “hirings galore”. Job interviews were just a formality.” And then, the urgency gone, a trend reversal. “Since 2002, once the post-Euro projects were completed, there has been a dramatic decline as for IT projects. Professionals' cost estimates went down sharply.” Giorgio was a direct witness of such change, but he wasn't personally involved. “I'd completed my consultancy job in Ravenna at the end of 2000. In 2002 I had already been hired by Beghelli. This type of professional “suffering”, I witnessed it within the company, where the role of enterprise resource planning manager (ERP) was losing its relevance.” Then, all of a sudden, a series of personal events that created a sort of black hole in Giorgio's life.
A new phase started, a delicate one, to reconstruct his own existential path.
His company placed trust in Giorgio. And he rewarded the company by turning out to be precious for projects and situations for which he solved problems and emergencies. He relaunched his career with his previous stamina. Project manager, IT application manager and finally CIO. These job titles are the sign of the recovery of a linear path. CIO: “The manager who supervises strategies and the implementation of projects concerning the group's IT systems. At Beghelli, we're talking about an international scope, we're getting bigger.” Giorgio is indeed writing policies for all the IT facilities they have in their offices abroad. At the beginning of his career at Beghelli, while a whole generation of IT consultants had to tackle the crisis, Giorgio found himself in a corporate context that was moving towards new technological directions. “It meant that there was the chance of proposing and implementing projects. Always being clear on one concept: it's hard to identify and recognise winning technologies. The danger is launching projects that haven't got any real added value or, worse, not recognising the right ones and thus losing the race.” Now, rather than implementing, Giorgio analyses, proposes and manages. “I relate to technologies in a very critical way. I have to look at them, I have heated exchanges with the system integrators. When they try to convince me that they're presenting the technology that'll save the world, I need to understand whether it's a road that will actually take us somewhere. Some other time I interrupt them: I haven't really understood what you're getting at but go on nonetheless”. The danger dealing with technology, Giorgio explains, is to get stuck in the context. “It happens that you get so enmeshed with the problem that you lose sight of the bigger picture. You have to gain some distance in order to understand what you're doing, from a distance you can refocus.” And it was BBS precisely that provided Giorgio with new lenses.
“Aged 17, I was attending the accounting high school, I felt that corporate dynamics were boring. Or perhaps our professors were.” Regaining your motivation is the key-word according to Giorgio. “Faculty competencies, real-life cases, workshops. Attending the master's at BBS gave a me a great deal of energy.” Giorgio ended his course with about fifteen new projects in mind, which had a ready and concrete value for his company. “I implemented, and completed, many of them already, and I believe I've achieved something important for myself and the company itself.” The master's training concept allowed him to develop an overall vision of the idea, from the analysis to the budget and cash flows management. “I've acquired enough tools to cope with new issues. But mostly, I developed an interest for the business “system”, something I didn't expect to happen. I sensed something which I couldn't believe existed, a “beauty” of dynamics that goes way beyond what the product can convey.”
A piece of advice to a student
“You need to commit, working and attending the master's isn't a piece of cake. But you have your payback when you realise about the change that's happened in you, personally, not just professionally.” Giorgio has re-printed all the modules, exam by exam, to refresh the things he's learnt. “Business concepts remain valid over time. Some people call them “the toolkit”, because they are skills you can tap into at any time and I want to be able to go back to them whenever I need. I believe that from now on, until the end of my working career, they'll provide me with base knowledge, method, ideas.” Giorgio also suggests to continue following the BBS community and all that is proposed to those who've joined it. “Participating to the meetings organised by the School helps keeping the interest alive, vitality, to be constantly up-to-date. Taking your diploma and turning the page is a mistake. Now I can better manage that sense of panic that strikes the company during work-related emergencies”. We could say, it's the same tranquillity and depth that Giorgio learnt during his evenings, studying with jazz music in the background.
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