Today, November 30th, Fabrizio Bernini, Chairman of Zucchetti Centro Sistemi SpA and the Arezzo Industrial Association, was awarded the highest institutional honour for an Italian entrepreneur: the title of Cavaliere del Lavoro (Knight of Labour), directly by Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic, at the Quirinal building in Rome. It was an official ceremony in which Bernini was the sole representative of the Tuscany Region, with 24 other renowned entrepreneurial colleagues.
Still moved by this important event, he responded open-heartedly to some questions.
1. Chairman, what does the title of Cavaliere del Lavoro mean to you?
It is an enormous honour which arises from the awareness of having done something good, not only for myself, but for all of those who are close to me: family, collaborators, employees, partners and suppliers. Considering the entrepreneurial level of my other Cavaliere colleagues, I am flattered yet all the while a bit intimidated by all this. I am of humble origins and in the beginning, my only assets were my enthusiasm and passion for technology. I revolutionised my professional life but I have tried to not change my personal life. Receiving such an important title as this, which is a recognition of one’s entrepreneurial as well as ethical activities together with social responsibility, confirms that the courageous decisions I made were the right ones. Almost like having a medical check-up and finding out I’m in excellent health!
2. 2017 was truly an eventful year: at the age of 60, appointed Chairman of the Industrial Association of the Arezzo Province, Vice-Chairman of the southern Tuscany delegation of Confindustria, Cavaliere del Lavoro, a 15% increase in sales volume this year as compared to 2016, and the achievement of the new Smart building. Which event was the most exciting for you? What was the biggest surprise? And what didn’t happen in 2017?
Speaking on an emotional level, I would undoubtedly say the gift I received for my 60th birthday. A kind gesture from my collaborators: a video with their best wishes conveying warmth, energy and the shared values that I so cherish. As per company results, having established the importance of the economic results that allow ZCS to continue on its path of growth with new investments in research and development, I would say success on international markets as the manufacturers of outstanding technology specialised in robots for gardening, followed by the awareness that the Ambrogio robot remains the sole specialised brand in that sector. This creates an enormous prosperity also for the territory in which we continue to operate. A welcome surprise has been the exponential growth of the new Innovation department with photovoltaic inverters and storage solutions for energy conservation. Even without contributions, subsidies and governmental aid, the market was ready to receive quality products guaranteed for 10 years at an affordable price: all characteristics our Azzurro possesses. However, we need to improve the reorganisation of our internal processes following this period of strong growth registered in recent years. A cultural and managerial development in addition to streamlining procedures so that a bright idea is able to reach the market quickly.
3. Your career path was fuelled by your passion for technology and the innovative spirit of continuously creating new solutions. So what is the key to your success?
I would say the passion and technical curiosity of understanding how an object functions and how to develop an idea. I often convey this vision of mine to my industrial colleagues in Arezzo: an entrepreneur cannot limit himself or herself to managing and administrating a company’s daily activities with a short term outlook (this is the job of a good manager). He or she must be an active part of the technical process and actively contribute to the realisation of a social prosperity that a business must represent.
4. You were born in the Arezzo part of Valdarno and you decided to undertake and proceed in your entrepreneurial business here. What is your relationship with the territory?
I have always had a very strong bond with the territory. The hilly area of Valdarno is like Mother Nature to me. Making ZCS grow meant making the related industries grow and giving new opportunities to those living in the area. I am convinced that I found greater incentives in my area compared to the mere willpower to expand the company for my own particular ambitions. Knowing you have created an industry in your region that invents and produces technological solutions that satisfy the needs of various sectors that are all heterogeneous on an international level is enormously gratifying for me. In particular, if you consider that I have the opportunity to present my area to the entire world and convey a positive entrepreneurial philosophy to the new generations that are approaching the professional world. Also, I have been able to hold on to my personal and private relationships that I have had since I was a child and which today allow me to smile at life.
5. ZCS is a young company, composed of over 50% Millennials (under 40 years of age). What kind of relationship do you have with this generation?
I feel comfortable with them because, in truth, I feel that I have the DNA of the new generations. Curiosity, passion for technology, thinking outside the box looking at the future. A hair or two less and a few extra kilos have not weakened my resolve to look at tomorrow with an inquisitive mind, to learn something new every day. I have faith in youth and their potential. In the last years in ZCS, I have hired dozens of them under 35 years of age, mainly with technical training with a common distinguishing feature: passion for their jobs.
6.What are the entrepreneurial values that you feel you represent in this era of digitalisation?
Undoubtedly, respect for people and ethics: shared values that cannot be ignored in this social moment where human relations have become scarce and interpersonal relationships are a mere exchange of formalities. Words have been replaced by proclamations on social networks, conversations have become chats, opinions have turned into posts and moods are now emojis. We now speak of 5G connectivity and the speed of our tools and solutions, but we shouldn’t mistake them for human connections which must remain unaltered through human interaction, dialogue and open discussions. I have always done my best work after having had lengthy discussions with the work teams. We mustn’t underestimate the work of people, thinking only of our personal success but try to share our successes with our colleagues.
7. How do you imagine the future? And that of your company?
I imagine and hope to continue “enjoying myself” in the company for many years to come conveying this spirit to others as well. Imagining that work is not only a source of income but also of personal betterment, satisfaction and well-being as a result. This would be a wonderful future. A technological company that is at the forefront in constant evolution, in pursuit of new markets but also a forum where issues can be discussed openly in an atmosphere of innovative philosophy. And even more intensely…imagining an “Arno Valley”.
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