My Story, Our Story: Rita Melcarne

5 August 2016

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 XXIV episode is Rita Melcarne, HR Manager at Ducati Motor Holding, EMBA.

Rita’s soundtrack is “L’Isola che non c’è” by Edoardo Bennato

The attachment to loved things and a great talent for relations. Attachment to work, a true passion. Attachment to one’s roots, to one’s land, in this case the Salento area, in the south of Italy. Attachment to friendship, but only with a capital F. Attachment to family links. In particular, to a father who has been able to teach and provide advice, with a gentle touch. What follows is Rita’s professional story, through experiences that shape the character in the first place.

The story so far 
A path that started with the study of the humanities that was destined, when Rita followed the road to an EMBA at BBS, to divert towards less travelled roads. “The toughest subjects, especially those financially-related, offer me the pleasure of stopping to do some introspection. Working in HR, you deal a lot with others and you haven’t got much time to reflect on yourself and your skills”. The path she followed at BBS allowed Rita to find the time to cultivate knowledge, to assess herself. Reconciling her professional life with study and in general with her private life. “If you’re not interested in investing in yourself while attending the Master’s at BBS, you can’t go on.” It all started in a high school in Tricase, a small town near Lecce. Rita is the only one among her girl-schoolmates who decided to remain in her beloved native area to continue with her studies. She attended the Law Faculty at the university in Lecce, which made her boyfriend draw a sigh of relief, and she chose the administrative specialization and not the legal one, a tribute to her father, a public administrator, who would have liked her to study at a prestigious and old university like Bologna. Then it was the time to attend the specialization school for legal professions and the practice at the State legal advisory board. “I remember when I was a child, travelling on the motorway, from Apulia to Trentino. Around the Modena Nord exit, I could see the buildings of large companies, illuminated, with many people working inside them.” A memory etched in Rita’s mind. At the end of her practice internship, a friend asked her to set up together an international legal firm in Lecce. Rita suddenly remembered the tall, glass buildings, then she visualized a desk encumbered with legal papers and documents, and she replied to her friend “You’re out of your mind!”. Then an HR Master’s in Bologna and another in Modena followed. An interview where she arrived after an apocalyptic journey through a snow blizzard, launched Rita into two project works, one for a personal care company and the other in the automotive industry. At the end, she had to choose where to stand on: “I never had a great passion for hair. I wash it and it’s already in place. With engines it’s an altogether different story.”

“I joined Volkswagen for a 6-month internship and then they hired me. They were about to start a new legal-administrative profile: inspection auditors. I was tempted. It meant travelling around Italy to visit dealers. The auditor was defined as “the customs policeman from the Verona HQ”. There were two of us travelling together. Dealers were informed two weeks prior to our visit and then we went to check that they didn’t fix false deals with their customers.” It basically meant staying locked inside offices for days on end to check the paperwork. “In Calabria, someone tried to intimidate me, should the audit result be a sanction”. Three years of practice, to train character and courage. From the large dealers in big cities, to small provincial affiliates. Then another jump in terms of competences. Rita went back to the legal field, taking care of industrial and TU relations for the Florence HQ. For a company like Volkswagen where the workers’ representatives sit next to the shareholders during the BoD meetings. Another hard task, where one’s forced to impose penalties, even very unpleasant ones. And then Ducati made its appearance.

Starting up 
The daughter of a father who’s convinced that buying a car is the worst possible investment, while her brother showed a passion for motorbikes that’s quite common for his age. “At that point, purely to imitate him, I decided I wanted a bike myself, but not just any other bike, a Tuareg Aprilia 125. I jumped on my motorbike at the age of 17 and never got off. It’s become an integral part of my job, of my world.” After the experience with Volkswagen in Florence, Rita discovered that a position was available in Ducati. An appointment was made. “There was my desire to test myself in the engineering automotive sector, that for me at the time meant either Lamborghini or Ducati.” The target at Ducati was to import all corporate processes, and to do so they needed someone who coordinated the knowledge transfer. Someone in charge of training. “As person in charge of Ducati training, I had the chance to attend the EMBA within a context of exchange of views, there’s a lot one can get from BBS to then bring it to one’s business. There was the world of the digital transformation, the world of the in-house corporate training that had to be finalised in a specific structure, with a training plan that’s soon to become a catalogue.”

“BBS, for the EMBA, has got an interesting classroom to offer, with which it’s very easy to exchange views in a fruitful way. As opposed to other Master’s courses, there’s a different way of relating to the faculty. It’s a continuous, intensive exchange, which allows acquiring in depth-skills, also thanks to tools such as the forum.” Through challenging events, like the creation of the team to discuss the projects in the classroom, Rita discovered her true friendships, those with a capital F, as she calls them. The network of acquaintances and relationships at BBS involves professors and former students alike, with whom it is possible to meet and exchange views at BBS. “In the evening, going back home to read the lecture notes on leadership was a compelling moment. Because it helps understanding who you are and where you want to go. Studying indexes and cost management was extremely interesting and hard, just like the finance course. I’ll certainly won’t work in finance in the future, but possessing new elements to interpret what surrounds me at work is fundamental. It completes the view and the interpretation of what happens all along the company chain.” What about the relationship with your colleagues in the classroom? “When you work in HR, you also focus on getting to know people because if they have a relevant added value, it’d be great to have them as a part of the team with which you work on a daily basis. I leave it to the future to see whether there’ll be possibilities to make these relationships become something more to bring added value to the company. Also because the company too would be happy to find new talents.”

A piece advice to a student
“At BBS, some of the participants offered me their support. It’s important to acknowledge who’s ahead of you, finding a mentor. It’s fundamental to exchange views with the teacher whom you believe might be providing you with features to interpret what you’re experiencing in your profession. At times, even simply a different viewpoint on your professional experience may be enough. My suggestion is not to underestimate that channel of relationships and information made up of those small groups of colleagues in the classroom, with whom you meet at the bar as well. Because also when you’re having fun, there’s an important exchange on your everyday experiences.” As for the world of work in general, Rita offers her suggestion: “Nowadays, from a professional point of view, specialization plays a relevant role, but so does leadership. In order to find your road, you need to believe in what you do and try to get to the bottom of it. And you need to be willing to open your mind, be flexible to change. I’m talking about the inclination to change that must be based on the culture of not being afraid of working with others and spurring those who are reluctant to be part of the group. Because, first and foremost, there’s our personal growth at stake.”


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