Glocal Success

TWSM visited some of the most successful companies operating in Italy today in different fields. After interviewing their managers, it was notable that that the basis of their success is their employees.


Fater new headquarters designed by Massimiliano Fuksas

To enable companies of all sizes to become the best-run businesses, Sap Italy made customer orientation one of his founding values. It is a company where 250 employees ‘live’ from Monday to Thursday with their customers, only coming into Sap’s offices on Friday to plan the following week. “It is essential,” explains Tiberio Tesi, Sap Italy’s Organisation and Hr Director, “to let your employees feel the company’s support.” Thus, market orientation is balanced with special attention to employees, who receive a lot of personal support services such as laundry, kindergarten, and online shopping directly delivered to the workplace. In addition, Sap Italy‘s employees are continually enriching their skills and are promoted through rigorously meritocratic policies.

The business guideline in Fater, a joint venture between Angelini and Procter & Gamble in the supply of sanitary products, is respect for each person. The business believes that it can gain employee motivation and commitment just by giving them attention. “To do this,” suggests Roberto Marinucci, Fater General Manager, “you need to be clear with people, listen to them and create an honest dialogue between the various levels of the firm.” Fater was so convinced about this approach that they created “Liad”, a laboratory where modern technology allows employees to experience and explore all aspects of communication with managers. Employees are evaluated, in addition to work performance, on their ability to create collaboration between people. “I’m sure that in a period of crisis you become more competitive just by having people who are strongly committed the company’s survival and you all feel even more like a team. This is a great source of energy for the company,” added Marinucci.


Alessandro Annese, Cisco Italy HR Country Manager

“If you want to be competitive and excel you need to balance attention to the market with attention to employees”. This is what Alessandro Annese, Italy Hr Country Manager, believes makes a difference for Cisco Italy. The company’s vision of the market is clear and shared at all levels by all employees. Skills development is strongly supported in order to affirm employee’s belief in their ability to deliver on projects. To encourage all employees to be active participants in the company’s development, Cisco Italy created the “Human Network” project. This project is centred on the extensive use of communications technologies which integrates employees into an open net where,” as Annese says, “many heads are better than one”.

To protect a designer’s freedom of creativity from the company’s influence, Italian design factory Alessi developed a special workplace that Managing Director, Alessandro Bonfiglioli, calls “a galaxy of designers”. This is a network of around 200 external and independent designers who are linked into the factory without being in-house employees. They can propose new concepts or work on already existing ideas coming from the factory and have no fixed deadlines for their projects. “When we asked Richard Sapper to create a new kettle, he said that he could create a boiler that would sound like the boats on the River Rhine,” says Bonfiglioli. “He succeeded in finding the right sound just when his sister met some sounds producers. We had our kettle five years after we first asked Sapper to create it!” reflects Bonfiglioli.

According to the latest companies’ survey, the rate of engagement amongst Sara Lee’s Italian employees is above the Italian national standard, and is in turn above other Sara Lee branches worldwide. After three years, in which it financially underperformed with low employee engagement levels, Sara Lee launched a program in 2005 that has improved these results. “We chose to build our credibility on aspirations of where we wanted to be in five years and finding common goals that was shared by all employees”, says Domenico Zaccone, Sara Lee Italy’s Managing Director. “Choosing new company assets, we transformed ourselves from a traditional manufacturing operation to an advanced enterprise where ‘intangibles’, including employee engagement, are now pillars of our success.


Published in the hard-copy of Work Style Magazine, Spring 2009