BBS Alumni talk about themselves: what was before, what came after and the memories of the student’s life, to offer a personal story and a narration of one’s own professional experience. For a history of our Community. The protagonist of the twelfth episode is Lucia Chierchia, Open Innovation Director at Electrolux Group, Executive Master in Technology and Innovation Management.
Lucia’s soundtrack is: Nothing Else Matters, the album by Metallica.
“Music isn’t just an emotion, it also means discipline, being able to relate to the band. Leading it, if necessary.” The need to express oneself during adolescence, as an ideas and exchanges lab. Another place where the role of the leader emerges, where one practices the capacity to work in a team. Who knows whether Lucia ever thought about it, but in the “garage band” one of the first Open Innovations occurred: skills that come together (and, at times, clash) exploding into a unitary outcome. “Metal is in my heart. It’s part of those experiences that form you, youth ‘subbacultcha’ experiences, that leave a mark on you.” So much connected to her identity, that it lead Lucia to choose a heavy metal fan as her partner in life. A solid line that accompanies Lucia in her professional search. Which one? Looking for groups of talents that together create innovation, products for the future.
The story so far
Everything started on the school desks, it could be said. Or, if not everything, a lot. Since primary school, Lucia has always had the gift of the gab. Those are the moments when one understands if one will be able to let the others get caught up in new adventures. In the meantime, she obtained her degree in engineering at the Politecnico in Milan. A lightning quick career followed: it started in a company and then off again, exciting people towards new adventures, recruiting the best minds in order to do “open innovation”. “My professional path started in aerospace, Alenia Difesa, to then finally land at the home appliances industry. At first with Whirlpool, and afterwards with Electrolux”. A fast ascent, during which Lucia covered different managerial positions, all of them though in R&D. In 2011, she became Open Innovation Manager: her role is to look for and select ideas for the Group creating a network of talents, young start-ups, university spin-offs, basically all those that are able to work in synergy with the aim of perfecting or, if possible, creating a product.
Lucia’s case is special, because it comes from a collaboration between Electrolux and BBS. Once again the force of the network, that has been clearly metabolised by the Swedish multinational. “Attending the BBS courses had become more than just a habit, but a training stage for Electrolux Italia executives. That’s why Tiziano Toschi (Senior VP Global R&D at Electrolux, editor’s note) suggested that I could participate too. My main characteristic is that of wanting to learn in order to build, so I enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity. And if I were to say the truth, I’d do it again. Indeed, any vacancy?”. At BBS, Lucia found the network of different skills that she’s used at weaving, connecting apparently disconnected dots. A weird overlapping between learning place and “body” on which to work to find talents occurs. “I’m still in touch with some of them. It even happened that we worked on shared projects.” Who knows if Lucia, now the face and voice of Electrolux on the occasion of important public appointments, such as TedX, to disseminate the meaning of Open Innovation, might not, one day, recount her experience in front of BBS “desks”.
The words I haven’t uttered
Back to school-time. Are we sure it’s a nightmare? Is it really a regression? Not for Lucia. “We, from the EMTIM, were notorious within BBS. We were very close and we were number one as for practical jokes. Small personal tics we recognized among us even by simply raising a hand, secret codes typical of schoolmates”. Her friends made fun of her because she never seemed to find the right word in Italian. “Simply because I’m used at speaking mostly English at work” she clarifies “so, when I felt the need to ask for something specific in class, everyone started laughing, already foreseeing the linguistic chaos that’d be the result of my intervention. And those laughters would confuse the instructor, who’d wonder what they’d said that was so hilarious”. The relationship among the participants is a mysterious alchemy, perfectly portrayed by those laughters. No-one understands completely the reason of it, but it’s irresistible. It’s also thanks to this type of complicity that the place where one learns becomes unforgettable.
Monza might mean two things: the Formula 1 circuit and a pretty little town, just outside Milan. Cosmopolitan suburbs, potentiality and actuality. A perfect place where to get in touch with one’s own dreams, enough to wish them to come true. Lucia grew up in Monza and that energy conveyed by speed became the grit of someone who, dreams to fly over. And, perhaps, for this reason the energy in the air became the mechanical sound of heavy metal. “Keyboardist and singer, with a marked passion for progressive metal”, metal at its most virtuosic, technically demanding form. Who would have guessed that exuberant, outgoing Lucia is a Metallica wild-eyed fan, the trash and speed metal cult band, hard and violent? Just a bias, but in reality it’s part of the logic of things.
A piece of advice to a student
“Wanting to learn and build” are the concepts, the inclinations that Lucia would like to convey to younger people or those about to start attending BBS. “The value of meeting professional figures that are very different from yours.” Enrolling at BBS means knowing the path but not knowing how it will unfold. “Participating at the EMTIM BBS meant going far beyond the curriculum. It meant finding oneself plunged into an experience where to encounter different skills and drawing the most out of diversity.” This continuous renewal of different characters is the additional quality that leads Lucia to suggest the exchange. “Take advantage of the diversity you’ll find in the classroom. Establish a direct, collaborative contact, and not competition. And do it having fun”. After all, isn’t this the fruitful encounter at the basis of every Open Innovation?
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