Tell us about your role at VICT.
I sometimes have a hard time explaining my job to my kids. The role of a CEO is to manage the team successfully, set a vision and direction for the company, and sufficiently engage the team around that vision. It has to be compelling enough for people to believe in it. In a company as big as VICT, people want to dream big and be the best terminal in Australia. It involves a lot of decisions each day. I don’t make all the decisions myself – there is a reason I have a team around me – but those decisions ensure people have everything they need to make the business run properly. Because at the end of the day, I’m there to support that.
Which part of your job is the most misunderstood?
The most unknown part is that it’s a 24/7 role. Regardless of the time I spend in the office, I’m always online. Our port is open all the time, but even if it wasn’t, I would still always need to be available. Travelling is another one; it’s often misunderstood as a vacation. It’s nice to catch glimpses of places where you might not visit otherwise, but you mostly just see airports, meeting rooms, hotels and taxis.
What is the best piece of leadership advice you’ve received?
I try to listen to everyone and have a humble attitude. The best piece of advice was from my father, who was a very humble person from a working-class family. He considered humility and respect the biggest virtues of all. Regardless of what you do in life, if you can stick to those two values, you can go a long way and people will appreciate it.
What is the most memorable job you had before this one?
I worked at Coca Cola before coming to International Container Terminal Services. Coca Cola is a brand that gets into your blood. When I was hiring people while working there, I would always tell them they have a tangible salary and an emotional salary, because working for a brand that’s in every household and in every person’s life is so unique. That magic stays with you forever. The most exciting part was when I was working for Coca Cola in Spain; I was responsible for the Iberian Peninsula for carbonated soft drinks. I had the chance to be one of the first in the world to launch Coke Zero, which eventually became a worldwide success. I still have a Coca Cola Zero bottle with my name on the label.
How did you go from soft drinks to ports?
Professionally speaking, I’m always up for a challenge, so when ICTSI came to me proposing to run a port in Argentina, I found it was an interesting idea, particularly as the port wasn’t working. It had been idle for the past four years. I joined because I was attracted by the challenge. The logistics world is a lot more fascinating from within than it is from the outside. Most people picture container ports with a container yard and a crane, and that’s it. And then they picture a gang of criminals that are shooting each other or dealing drugs, because that’s what we see on Netflix. It’s funny now, because ports are some of the most secure and highly controlled locations anywhere, but I used to have the same impression of ports.
Where are you from and where do you consider home?
I’m Italian, and I’m from the city of Torino in the north. But I lived in Spain for almost 16 years, and Madrid was my favourite place to live. Australia is definitely a very nice place, but five months in a country isn’t enough time to fully judge one’s experience. I’m looking forward to learning more about Australia. Maybe Australia will become home.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve noticed since moving here?
I think Australia is a victim of its own success. Australia has enjoyed so much growth and so much wealth. That has resulted in expensive goods and services, but with a lack of service in some areas, which is totally unexpected for a first world country. When I first landed here, I thought everything must work perfectly, but it doesn’t. When you go to the airport, you hardly see anyone working there. There are only machines, and when you have an issue, there is one counter with a huge queue of other people having problems.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I love singing. It’s something I discovered by chance when I was at a business dinner with the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce in Buenos Aires. They love karaoke, and they invited me along, and I had to sing out of respect for my hosts. It was the first time I sang in public, and I really liked it. My go-to karaoke songs are “My Way” by Frank Sinatra and “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers. I also have a third-dan black belt in taekwondo and can speak seven languages: Italian, Spanish, English, French, German, Romanian and Polish.
This article appeared in the August 2023 edition of DCN Magazine