BBS Alumni talk about themselves: what was before, what came after and the memories of life as students, to offer a personal story and a narration of their professional experience, for a history of our Community. The protagonist of the XXVI episode is Giovanni Papa, Relationship Manager, Linkedin. Master in Management.
Giovanni’s soundtrack is Fragile by Sting.
“Past experiences have a logical thread. But you have to interpret them starting from today and tracing your steps back, to the beginning”. Giovanni’s general view proves the famous expression “don’t look back” wrong. In order to have a complete view, you need to “connect the dots”, professional and human ones, backwards through time. Our past is fundamental to understand where we’re going. And Giovanni’s journey has been so far quite rich in experiences, especially human experiences.
The story so far
“I received my degree in economics at the end of the 90s.” Quick, short, sudden flashback. Giovanni hasn’t got his degree yet. He’s preparing his final dissertation on the tools that may help SME’s grow. “The study was about the comparison with activities in developing countries”. An NGO gets in touch with him, asking for his help organizing a seminar on the topic. Destination Mozambique. Three months of reflections and implementation of the project then back to Italy, just in time for his degree ceremony. He’s immediately called back to Mozambique, with the proposal of becoming part of the project, managing it. “I should have remained 3 months. I stayed for two years”.
Some time in Mozambique
“We gathered around the table all donor Countries to create a trait d’union with the local businesses. The aim was to provide entrepreneurial “training” to former soldiers, after the signing of the peace treaty.” It was the year 2000 and Mozambique ranked as the poorest country in the world in the statistics. After the end of the reign of warlords, there was the need to teach the veterans a simple but profitable craft. Also in view of rebuilding the social and economic fabric of the Country. The country was in need of electricians, plumbers, construction workers. “We managed the courses then we provided a toolkit to start working. As the saying goes, we gave them the fishing rod, not the fish.” Afterwards, follow-up analysis 6 months or one year later were performed to see how many had established their activity. “Employment increased by 50%. Not bad, considering that many re-sold the toolkit we’d given them to work at the market.” For every trained person, ten would be able to make a living. The average components of a household. The most important lesson? “Understanding people’s actual needs, what they really need”.
A lab devoted to the then innovative field of management and information technology. Giovanni describes this way his participation in the Master’s course at BBS, at the time still called AlmaWeb. It was the year 2001: a context characterized by an extremely difficult international political and economic situation. “It was a sort of pilot training, where professors and students contributed in a mutual relationship to the definition of the path to follow.” Like many of his colleagues, Giovanni remembers the sacrifices of that period. “I remember waking up as early as 6, I commuted from Ferrara to Bologna, to be present at the 7 o’clock lecture.” Since then Giovanni has been through several working experiences, all very different. Now he’s living and working in Dublin “but I keep on having a strong link with the school as I’m a member of a board of one of the Master’s courses.” And then the value of the relationships developed at Villa Guastavillani. “I still see a couple of the people I met. I was even the best man for one of them.”
A piece of advice to a student
I’ve been invited to speak at the Master’s course in Human Resources & Organization at BBS about my experience for LinkedIn, to explain to the students how to create a profile that would appear compelling to companies. It’s been great. I was surprised though, that after my presentation not many students asked me to become one of their connections. “What a shame! Networking is a very important value nowadays, because if they are cultivated, connections stay, while notions age rapidly. The master’s gives you the toolkit but the knowledge must be put to the test and daily updated.” Giovanni believes that “it’s fundamental to take care of one’s own personal branding. Rather than being passive and allow others to label you, it’s better to be active sharing your skills, the qualities you acquired. You can’t decide not to be in the Net and you must lead your presence, rather than having others assigning your reputation to you. And enriching your journey with a BBS Master’s is a question of prestige”.
“Relationships are that special glue, which through the exchange of experiences, allows remaining updated on what’s happening in the world.” Today Giovanni works for a leading multinational company in web-based Human Resource. Relationships and the knowledge of different experiences are is bread and butter and he’s able to grasp their exact meaning and relevance. “Let’s make good use of them.”.
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