Studying or working abroad is never what you expect it to be. But what we all hear and know is that it will change you for the better. It shows you different perspectives and it will help you think more creatively. This can, eventually, direct you towards a more international career.
For the leadership course we had a module abroad in Italy, at the famed Bocconi University. We were lucky enough to leave the cold weather in Frankfurt for the sunny Milan. On one of the days, we went to one of the Lavazza factories near Milan, in Turin, to learn more about the company. Despite not being too interested in coffee until now, the company presentation sparked my interest. I was impressed to find out that for 120 years, the company has been led by the descendants of Luigi Lavazza.
Given the sheer size of the company on a global level, made me realize how important it was for Luigi Lavazza’s vision to be perfectly understood by his heirs. A great vision is just part of the solution, but without strong leadership it would have been impossible to coordinate the operations of the company. To give you a scope of these operations, the company needs to do R&D, coordinate global logistics from suppliers and retailers all over the world and execute a strategy that keeps them one step ahead of their competition.
I was impressed to see how they regard technology and innovation in their tradition of coffee. Because coffee is a traditional family business in Italy and there are many small such initiatives in most cities, you wouldn’t think of technology as being something core to this business. However, Lavazza has distinguished itself by not only offering quality coffee, but also a range of products that ensure the uniqueness of the coffee experience.
This perfect blend of technology and tradition really spoke to me given my engineering background. It made me realize that any industry, initiative or business can benefit from technology and go hand and hand with the vision of its initial founders. The challenge would be to find the leaders that will maintain the engagement of every employee and strive for excellence.