Leonardo SpA: the future is only in innovation

4 February 2020

“It seems strange to me that a not very bright student like me is now in front of such educated people”: it is with a classic icebreaker joke that Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo SpA since March 2017 and a long career at the head of Unicredit, opened the meeting with the BBS Community, dedicated to the story of the third European defense company, which he defined as “a real strategic asset for the development of our country”.

“The word that best describes my arrival in Leonardo is freedom – says Profumo – because I got there at 60 years of age, from a completely different sector, the banking one, and I was free from conditioning. This allowed me to make unexpected choices: when I presented the 2018-2022 business plan, the stock fell by 10 percent. But for me, it was positive news because we were starting a long-term investment plan, capable of guaranteeing corporate sustainability in the years to come”.

A good choice and the data prove it: in 2018 Leonardo had a turnover of 12.2 billion, allocating 1.4 billion euros in R&D (12% of revenues), exporting goods for 6.4% of total exports Italian, with an order backlog of over 36 billion euros. Almost 30 thousand Italian employees (“Since my arrival, we have stabilized almost all temporary workers, because there were too many, a shame” – Profumo says), 70% of whom have a degree in STEM subjects.

“Leonardo’s future is not to sell helicopters, but to sell the ability to fly, not satellites, but the ability to observe: for this reason the issue of digitization is crucial for us because we must have the ability to make digital simulations of all our products, also with a view to customer support”. And technology is the real frontier with which Leonardo is confronted: because there is a very high tension between the life cycle of complex products (which require years of development) and the speed of change technology. “We are thinking today about products that will go into production in 2035, a huge effort also from a cultural point of view, but it is the only way to remain truly competitive”.

Present in 15 Italian regions, 20 technological districts and national clusters, Leonardo is a system with territorial excellence (companies, research centers, universities), promoting the creation of a technologically advanced armature, contributing to the development of the country and the competitiveness of its system. industrial.

“We are incredibly big for our country, and we have no competitors in Italy: it is a double risk because we can seem arrogant and become self-referential. Furthermore, it is more difficult to change if you do not feel constantly challenged, but we are aware of having a colossal responsibility towards the huge chain of entrepreneurs who allow us to complete our projects, it is an economic piece of Italy that we are called to protect and grow”.

Stimulated by the questions of the students of the BBS Community, Profumo also told how he tackled the jump from the banking to the aerospace world: “It was very stimulating, and I tried to apply common sense, focusing on two things: the choice of people and the quality of decision-making processes. And the quality of the decision-making processes is the same in the bank as in Leonardo, you have to choose the right people and make them work well because it is the only way to make correct decisions, minimizing errors”.


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