Growth is an Exercise in Trust

Growth is an Exercise in Trust


From cosmetics to energy, from marketing to human resources, from Italy to France, the career path of Paola Boromei has been a zigzag. With a degree in Psychology and a specialization in Human Resources and Organization at the SDA Bocconi School of Management, Boromei, by her own admission, keeps crossing diverse sectors, roles, functions and geographies. A demonstration of openness that today Snam's Executive VP Human Resources & Organization, recently recognized by Federmanager as the best manager of Italy under 44, indicates with certainty among the main qualities on which to build a successful curriculum.

For a young manager, is knowing how to seize the right opportunities for growth preferable to building a profile devoted to specialization in a sector?
Rather than opportunities, I would focus on motivations, which are always to be kept at the center of one's compass. Starting from these, it is then important to undertake experiences in different contexts, always guided by the goal of giving a strong identity to one's professionalism. To build a growing career, it is also necessary to accept to move transversally, along a "Z", focusing more on the acquisition of managerial skills than on a single sector of expertise. In my career I have often found myself managing moments of transformation and this has become my specific characteristic over time: I like to enable changes through the use of different levers.

Are there still "mandatory steps" for a managerial career that point to the top? It has always been said, for example, that an experience in large-scale distribution has a higher specific weight than others..
There are still industries with high added value and large-scale distribution, as well as retail, continue to be among them. Even if highly globalized, or even in crisis, these are in fact sectors with high potential, because today a large and strategic proportion of careers are being built through data management. For this reason, all highly digitized areas are rewarding, from communications to logistics and energy. The latter is a particularly stimulating sector today for a manager: it is in strong transition and the solutions in terms of new business models, technologies, costs, vectors, are still to be tested. Furthermore, it is a decisive area because the choices related to consumption, and therefore to sustainability, are increasingly "embedded" in everyday life and therefore involve many other markets, from transport to industry.

Did you also experience moments of impasse in your professional growth? What is the correct way to overcome the empty periods?
There are no empty periods, because every experience has its own intrinsic value. It has happened that I found myself having to face difficult decisions and choose new paths. For example, when a position apparently less important than the previous one was proposed to me by the company for which I worked. But I have always accepted change, looking at it as an opportunity and keeping my motivations clear. A career in a company is a contract between the parties that must include a good dose of trust on both sides. HR managers must aim at transparency and building a trusting relationship with people, giving each new challenge a long-term perspective and therefore placing each career step in a broader arch, but it is right for employees to immediately declare their expectations to the managers. It takes courage but it is the right thing to do.

Is every large company looking for the right balance between the growth of internal resources and the introduction of new forces from the outside? What is your vision in this regard and the strategy you apply at Snam?
The harmony between the growth of people within the company and the integration of new resources is fundamental. At Snam we work to have teams that are balanced, possibly 50/50 from this point of view. Each of these people brings value in a different way: those who come from outside introduce new ways of thinking and seeing things and become an engine of change also for internal resources, while those who grew up in the company are the custodians of their history and its heritage. They know its values but also its habits, the mechanisms, the characteristics of the top management, and the reaction times of the offices. All this has enormous importance in a complex organization.

What kind of experience is it for a manager to deal with this pandemic? What do you suggest for the identification of new leadership models?
From a managerial point of view, in my opinion there are two aspects that will remain in our memory. The first is the focus on safety, health and wellbeing of people, which in this year has become a priority; when the virus also passes I believe that this attention will remain higher than it was before. The other obvious element is the transition from hierarchical leadership to a more inclusive model. It was an important exercise on the part of the managers in empowering resources and a commitment to reduce authority in favor of people's autonomy and entrepreneurship. This made decision-making smoother even though we all found ourselves a bit more alone in making big or small decisions. However, it was a useful exercise because, if managed well, it gives excellent results. Also for HR management, where the task of interacting with people at a distance was particularly complex, new methods were integrated as needs emerged, and we were able to maintain and build relationships even in virtual form. At Snam, for example , in the first three months of the lockdown we hired almost 70 people without ever meeting them in person, only through the screen, and we are happy with our choices.

With a degree in Organizational Psychology at the Catholic University of Milan, with a specialization in Human Resources and Organization at Bocconi in Milan and an executive master in Global Leadership at the Insead Business School in Fontainbleau, Paola Boromei is now Executive Vice President Human Resources & Organization of Snam. “Already after graduation and the first work experiences it seemed necessary to round out my course of study with a specialization in the business world”, summarizes the manager quickly. "I chose a Master degree at Bocconi which then lasted only three months - today it is longer and more articulated - but which was proposed as an opportunity to share the experiences and backgrounds between professionals from various industries and with a very pronounced application focus. Beyond the contents and modern teaching, with digital tools, business games, case histories, it was a period of accelerated training on the role of HR in the company and on the necessary sensitivities, as well as on the skills, to fully understand the importance of the function".

Read more about this topic:
Career builders. By Silvia Bagdadli
“There Is Only One Right Path. And That's Your Own”. Interview with Monica Possa, Group Chief HR  Organization Officer at Generali

by Emanuele Elli

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