Ferdinando Bocconi's QuestionnaireINTERVIEW WITH ELENA LAVEZZI, HEAD OF SOUTHERN EUROPE AT REVOLUT
If you weren't Elena Lavezzi, who would you like to be?
I would like to be one of the investors who listened to the early pitches of companies like Uber, Circle, Revolut, AirBnB, Spotify, Facebook and Google, to hear how the founders of these companies first presented their projects - which were still little more than power point slides at that stage - to those who had the financial power to translate them into business reality.
Of all the people you met through Bocconi, whom would you travel with and where to?
I would like to take Rector Gianmario Verona with me on a backpacking trip, because he looks like a very sunny person, amusing and capable of finding solutions even in most challenging contexts, so I wouldn't fear any hard trekking with him. Then, I would like to take Diego Piacentini to lunch in my favorite restaurant in the world, on the hills near Tortona in Southern Piedmont, he is a great source of inspiration for all those who, like me, work in tech and innovation. I could listen to him for hours. And then I would like to visit my friend Gianugo Pischiutta more often: he was the first person I met on the first day of classes, and since then we have always been very close. Now he lives in New York with his family and is doing an amazing career.
What if Bocconi were a dish?
It would be a dish rich in taste and with ingredients coming all over the world, some of which I didn’t even know they existed before I had tried it.
Who is your hero? And while you were a Bocconi student?
I think I grew up with an inspirational role model, who is my mom. She raised me on her own, she has always worked so hard to give me as much as possible, and what she built she did without ever asking anything from anyone or having to make compromises, always with great honesty and deep respect for everyone. In my family, from my mother and maternal grandparents, I learned the value of work and economic independence. And that you can attain professional gratification by doing your job and behaving correctly, without having to step on anyone's feet.
What are you most proud of in your private life?
Of being brave, living my life as I want it, without limits, without fear, including the one to be judged. I have never been afraid to show myself, I come across as very transparent and I live to the max. Always. If I think it's worth it, I dive into it, holding nothing back. I think this is meaning of life, otherwise what are we here for?
And in your professional life?
That I identified a nascent trend which has since then exploded, namley startups. I think I was the first in Italy to have dedicated an entire radio program to the then emerging ecosystem of innovative firms, right at Radio Bocconi, being passionate about "entrepreneurial" realities in the IT industry. In general, I'm not afraid of making risky choices, or getting out of my comfort zone. I would say this is my personal quality which has so far rewarded me. And before every important decision, I always ask for other people’s opinion, but in truth I go with my instincts. I have to feel that it's the right decision in the gut, not just in the head.
What would you never do without?
My beloved dogs. And I couldn’t do without quality time with my mother: she and I have a very special relationship. Milan: I am literally in love with the place and I decided to return here from London, because I cannot separate myself from this city, which is becoming more and more beautiful, international, and full of opportunities. The potential of Milan is enormous, really at the level of the largest European capitals and global cities. And then I wouldn't give up running away to my favorite place in the world, the one where I'd take Diego Piacentini to lunch, to eat every so often on Sundays: two hours with that view, those flavors and those perfumes totally regenerate me.
Bocconi for you is...
My gate to the world. A reality that has enabled a person from the provinces like me to have access to educational, personal and professional opportunities that have been decisive for what I am today. Bocconi where it all started: my study-abroad semester in New York City and my first job experiences which lead to an international Master's degree at ESCP Europe. And not only that:at Bocconi I built my first network of relations outside my hometown, I made friends with people who came from all over the world and I irreversibly broadened my cultural and intellectual horizons. The Alma Mater has always been a reference for me: when you move to a big city like Milan and you are 19, you need to rely on a second family, and that’s what Bocconi is for me. Not to mention all the intramural cultural and sporting associations: for years, I was a speaker at Radio Bocconi and some my most amusing memories are linked to that experience. Without Bocconi’s international curriculum, I would have been much harder for a company like Uber to choose me as the one in charge of opening the Italian market at 24 years of age. I will be forever grateful to Bocconi and I recommend it to all young people who want to start a degree that has a transnational dimension. Moreover, with Bocconi Alumni scattered all over the world, the truth is that you are never alone, because there is always a Bocconian professional willing to support you with his/her network and experience, even in the most remote and unlikely corners of the planet.
Translated by Alex Foti