The vibrancy of Italian business


Where is the Italian economy headed? An ideal opportunity to discuss this topic was at the prizegiving ceremony for the sixth edition of the Eccellenze d’Impresa (Business Excellence) Award at the Milan Stock Exchange on 15 October.

Created through the partnership between Gea-Consulenti di Direzione, Arca Fondi and Harvard Business Review Italia, the Award acknowledges companies and startups in Italy that have stood out for their extraordinary performance, capacity for innovation, technological leadership, internationalisation, the creation of jobs (especially for the young), and their commitment to nurturing talent. All this with a strong focus on sustainability and social responsibility.

The first prize, for the Overall winner, and the “Crescita e Sostenibilità (Growth and Sustainability)” category award went to the Bonfiglioli group, leaders in the field of power transmissions.

The prizegiving ceremony at Palazzo Mezzanotte was preceded by a roundtable discussion entitled “Where is the Italian economy headed? Government responsibility and the role of business,” which opened with a keynote speech from Professor Salvatore Rossi, a former General Director of the Bank of Italy, who outlined the global and Italian financial scenarios. “We now live in the digital era. The larger the organisation or business implementing new technologies, the more these can be exploited in terms of efficiency. In Italy, sadly, the production fabric is fragmented into a multitude of small businesses, very few that are medium sized and a handful of large companies.” This means that on average the Italian system appears “unable to benefit fully from new technologies.” Nevertheless, Rossi concluded, Italy continues to be among the most advanced countries thanks to “many businesses that are still able to handle international competition on an equal footing:  there are not enough of them however and their numbers need to grow.”

Following the speech by the former Director of the Bank of Italy, Patrizia Grieco, Enel Chairman and jury member for the Eccellenze d’Impresa Award, addressed the audience. Grieco echoed Rossi’s comments, adding that “Italy has a remarkable business vitality, this means there is a great ability among businesses to overcome these structural shortcomings. All the same, a small business remains small, which means that it will find it hard to manage the overwhelming advances being made in technological innovation. We have to get better at taking full advantage of what we are.”

On this front the experience of large businesses can act as a guide: “Enel today is the premiere utility in Europe and the second largest in the world in terms of capitalisation, it boasts the largest network and is a world leader in renewables. However, this was not always the case.”

A group like Enel can contribute to the economic evolution of the country and “have a significant driving effect on all facets of research, from technological development to innovation, safety at work and everything that contributes to developing the country’s economy.”