This month’s insights from our leaders around the world comes from Luca Luciani, Chief Executive Officer, BAI Italia. Luca heads up our Italian business which was established just over a year ago and is based in Rome.Before joining BAI Luca worked for a number of large telco organisations, in roles such as Chief Executive Officer at TIM Brasil and Chief Operating Officer at Telecom Italia. Prior to this he worked for the Italian Electricity Group, Bain & Company, and Procter & Gamble.
What’s the most important development happening in our industry and what does that mean for business globally?
5G densification is among the most important challenges that business faces and will have the ability to bring about important change over the next few years.
Super-fast network protocols like 5G enable innovations in areas such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, virtual and augmented reality, cloud computing, blockchain, etc. We will see the boundaries between these technologies blurring and we will be able to combine them to enhance each other. To prepare for this, businesses must ensure they embed the right technology throughout their processes and in every area of operations, entertainment, smart city deployment, etc. and understand how this technology will impact their world.
5G densification impacts sustainability. The world is waking up to the fact that the climate disaster will pose a much bigger challenge than anything we have experienced in recent decades. 5G densification means businesses with the right environmental and social credentials and buying trends are increasingly being chosen by conscious consumers who prioritise factors such as ecological impact and sustainability when choosing who to buy from or do business with. MNOs and TLC companies need to make sure that their ESG processes are at the centre of their strategy and, despite higher CAPEX in the short-term, this should start resulting in lower impact.
5G densification also brings about an immersive customer experience. The combination of advanced 5G-powered interactions plays a role in streamlining processes and removes hassle from the life of the consumer (for example, recommendation engines that help us choose what to buy or online customer service portals that deal with problems and after-sales support). The metaverse, or “next level” of the internet, where we interact with brands and fellow consumers through immersive technology, including 3D environments and VR – is the stage where this will play out. Those are simply impossible without a powerful 5G network: for example, think of online shops where we can browse and “try on” virtual representations of clothes, jewelry, and accessories – on the move.
What inspires you most in the work that you do?
This isn’t an easy question to answer. I am inspired by figures in history (Churchill, Napoleon), science (Galileo, Newton, Einstein) and even modern businesses (Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, all of who have incredible biographies). I would also say civil rights figures (Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King) for the determination to make a dream happen. Someone else that inspires me is Nick Vujicic, for the love he inspires, regardless of his physical limitations. In our daily life we need extra energy to bypass difficulties – people we work with provide huge energy when you need it if they share a similar vision, put in the same effort, feed ambitions and resist frustrations. The people who give me more energy are exactly the kind of people I choose to work with, as we can achieve so much if everybody pushes in the same direction.
What is a technique you use to be more effective in your work?
Empowerment, of course. It is not really a technique in my view, but rather the essence of management. I have never been a technician; usually coping with responsibilities well above my knowledge and experiences – but in these situations you need to be helped, to trust the team. That’s the way I survived difficulties – and that’s the way we manage BAI Italia. I know my colleagues are better than me at many aspects: let’s give them the space they merit.
What’s one of the ongoing challenges you face at work and how do you manage it?
There isn’t just one, but many. We work in a complex industry which demands a good dose of vision, determination and love for work to turn ideas into contracts. Like most of my colleagues in BAI, we build the infrastructure of future digital society – and that’s our biggest challenge. It requires stamina to make things happen and we need to love our work to play the game.
What is your advice for proactively managing your career?
Seek the best place to work; do what you like, given that you spend most of your daily time doing what you do. This is what motivates me on a daily basis.
The accelerated digital transformation that I have already mentioned will lead to more workplace automation that will augment pretty much every single job in the world. This means that companies like BAI must re-train staff with skills needed to work alongside smart machines and to grow their uniquely human skills that currently can’t be automated. I believe this will include skills such as creativity, critical thinking, interpersonal communication, leadership, and applying “humane” qualities like caring and compassion.
As leader of a small but talented group, my advice to the more junior members of my team is always to not be afraid to approach the people in senior roles – they need you, and we definitely need everyone’s contribution. I have learned this for myself throughout my own career.
Who has been the greatest influence on your career and why?
My son. He was born when I was not quite 22 years old and a rather lazy university student who was much more interested in sports than books. When the girl who later became my first wife told me she was pregnant this sparked a big change in my life: the sense of honour and responsibility helped me grow up fast and in some ways quite dramatically. I continuously studied for about 20 hours a day every day, turning me into a strong person who felt able to take any responsibility or risk. At 30 years old I was managing The Planning & Control of Enel Group, where my colleagues were all on average around 20 years older than me. At 40 years old I became General Manager of TIM and at 42 years old the CEO of a listed company valued at $10bn. I believe all of these achievements would not have been possible if my first son had not been born during that stage of my life.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
That I will hopefully become a grandfather twice next summer, from both my older son and daughter. During my professional life I have always tried to balance work and family, career and sports. Life goes by so quick and we must find balance because there are no more chances to catch up once it’s too late.
Perhaps people will not be surprised to hear that family is hugely important to me. Since a few years ago when we moved back to Italy after spending a large part of my career in Latin America, I have been able to enjoy being part of a large family again. In fact, one of the things I appreciate the most about BAI is the possibility of creating a fantastic professional group of people who feel a bit like my wider family at work. The same sense of honour and responsibility that first drove me at the start of my career over 30 years ago continues to drive me and my team to achieve success for us all.