The Health Emergency Has Accelerated Innovation

The Health Emergency Has Accelerated Innovation


After the first day of school, a real baptism of fire in the Covid era also for ATM, the Milan public transportation company, the voice of Arrigo Giana, general manager and Bocconi alumnus, betrays a certain satisfaction (and understandable relief) for the smooth unrolling of operations. "In the months of the emergency, like everyone else we had to completely review our objectives, organization, plans, procedures: a real revolution in short, also in the practice of business management. We immediately focused on day-by-day operativity to accompany the city towards a new normal, momentarily reviewing our growth, development and investment targets to address the needs dictated by the health emergency.
Which points did you stress to involve all staff and management in the complicated context of this transformation?
"It was not necessary to request the utmost commitment because in this company there is a very strong pride and identity on the part of our staff and a great sense of responsibility in providing a service that meets the expectations of the city. The concept of public service is deeply rooted, anyone who works here knows that public transit directly affects people's daily lives and this makes a great difference compared to many other environments”.
Does the Milanese context make ATM different from other similar companies?
“ATM has actually always been unique in Italian local public transportation. Since the 1990s it has taken its own path, following an industrial approach, different from the typical municipal company, just think of the experiences of ATM managing public transit networks abroad, such as in Copenhagen, Denmark. This DNA has always given a strong impetus to innovation and this showed also during the management of the Covid emergency during which we have accelerated on some projects, including digitization".
On which technological innovations has the context of the pandemic acted as an accelerator?
"Especially in terms of relationships with users. We tried to transfer online all the operations that required physical contact with customers, from the sale of tickets to the payment of monthly and yearly fares, to customer care. We also remotely managed all the reimbursement procedures to guarantee monthly and yearly pass holders compensation for the months of March and April not used because of the lockdown. Now, on the other hand, we are studying new control systems to ensure reliable people counting, even for trams and buses, and therefore monitor that the level of crowding of vehicles stays acceptable, as is already the case for the subway ".
What is the relationship between ATM and the Municipality of Milan in sharing business decisions, whether ordinary or extraordinary?
"The relationship is the one that binds a company to its main shareholder, with the difference that in our case the shareholder is a local government. The Municipality expects a return from ATM in terms of high quality of service, which it considers the necessary prerequisite to make the city and its surroundings attractive. Added to this is the request to  balance economic and financial accounts but on this, I am proud to say, ATM has a long history of economic independence from the shareholder".
When do you imagine being able to stop thinking about extraordinary emergency management to start planning again for the long term and resume interrupted network development projects?
“We have never actually given up on long-term development projects. The construction sites that were stopped for a while have resumed at full speed; deliveries, for example, of new electric or hybrid buses, should meet the deadlines already stipulated in the contract signed before the pandemic. Rather, today we are committed to understanding whether the European Recovery Fund can act as an accelerator for the large development projects linked to sustainability that we have started or assisting further growth of the metro area, while respecting the objectives of the Green Deal".
Short Bio
Milanese, 54, Arrigo Giana is the General Manager of ATM. Bocconi graduate in Business Administration with a specialization in Industrial Companies, he is on his second experience at the Milanese public transportation company, after moving from consulting to positions of increasing responsibility in transport companies, among others, DHL International and Cotral, the transport company of the Latium Region where he held the position of Chief Executive Officer. "When I was a student there were very cool specializations, such as finance and marketing," says the manager. “I initially chose the path of consulting but I soon realized I was more interested in working in companies instead. It was a time when those who left Bocconi felt capable of doing anything. The university gave you a boost of enthusiasm and conviction in your own means that remained imprinted in young graduates for a long time and induced a positive approach to work and great desire for personal growth."

by Emanuele Elli

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