THE ACADEMY OF BUSINESS STRATEGY - ITALY
PATRIZIA SAVIOLO (EGP) BA
EXECUTIVE GLOBAL PARTNER (EGP)
GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION: Milan (Italy)
When thinking of Milan history, most people like citing the Visconti and Sforza families, as they contributed to the cultural and economical development of Milan during the Renaissance. That was in fact one of the most flourishing periods for Milan, both from a cultural and economic perspective. Anyway, we can’t speak about Milan past without citing its Celtic origins, dating back to 400 B.C. Since its foundation, the city has been a good example of cultural mix: Celts, Etruscans, Gauls dominated its territory until 222 B.C. when it was conquered by Romans and became part of the Roman Empire. Thanks to its geographical position, Mediolanum (that’s was the name Romans had given to the city) was like a bridge between Rome and the north of the Empire. After the decline of Romans, Milan was conquered by Longobards who moved their capital to Pavia. Milan started flourishing again only in 1117, when it became a municipality (“Comune”) and its first democratic laws were set. A century afterwards, the “Comune” system was over: the Visconti family gained power and started ruling the city. From 1277 to 1447 Milan knew a period of extraordinary culture and economic growth, thanks to the Visconti domination. Actually, most of its historical monuments (from the Palazzo della Ragione to the Duomo) date back that great period. When the last Visconti died in 1447, his son-in-law Francesco Sforza took the power. Under Sforza’s rule, Milan became a powerful capital where arts and culture were flourishing. Ludovico Sforza ”Il Moro”, who became Duke of Milan in 1480, called Leonardo da Vinci to his court and the city began its modern development. Agriculture was one of the main activities, while wool trade and silk production were the first example of the now famous fashion industry. Spanish conquered the Duchy of Milan at the end of the 15th century, imposing their rule and transforming the city into a mere province of their Empire. That was one of the darkest periods for the city, which had to wait until the Austrian domination at the beginning of 18th century to regain its economical and cultural vigour. Napoleon conquered the city in 1796, contributing to the development of a more democratic spirit. When he was defeated in 1814, Milan was given back to Austrians, but that signed the beginning of a period of hostility towards the Habsburg dynasty. This culminated in the “5 Giornate” rebellion which contributed to the liberalization of Milan by Piedmontese and French in 1848; in 1859 Milan was annexed to the Italian Monarchy. While Rome became the political site of the new-born State, Milan was given the role of economic and cultural capital.
The luxury business is for sure the first reason why Milan is known ad appreciated abroad. Many fashion houses have their headquarters at the heart of the city and the “Milan Fashion Week” is one of its most trendy and international events. But several other sectors have contributed to the economic development of a metropolis that is among the richest in the world. Back to the end of the Second World War, Milan developed a significant industrial sector, from automotive to chemical industries and, because of that, it started attracting a consistent flow of immigrants. The ability to attract and integrate different cultures has always been part of Milan history and has played an important role in its economical development. It’s not by chance that the city has become one of the most relevant financial centers in Europe. Today the tertiary and quaternary sectors contribute for more than 70% to the province economy. Despite the worldwide crisis, Milan has been able to keep an important role in Italy’s export (12% on total). About 90% of its companies are SMEs, but this hasn’t limited their capability to look at international trade as an important source of growth. According to recent statistics, 51% of Milanese companies have been generating revenues abroad for more than 10 years. Exports mainly come from traditional industries: steel, textile, apparel, automotive. On the other side, electronics and electrical engineering have been showing an increasing contribution to both the Italian GDP and the trade balance. Export is both oriented to EU and emerging markets (China, Singapore, North Africa, Turkey). Thanks to its international vocation, Milan economy can count on some big companies and groups, a true exception in a Country where family business is the norm. A concentration process started some years ago in relevant sectors like large-scale retailing, telecommunication, new technologies and banking. This helped several Milanese companies become estimated global players. The recent growth of Milan Stock Exchange is a consequence of this new trend, also encouraged by the development of a new market segment for SMEs (AIM segment). The Stock Exchange is actually proposing an alternative way to capital access in a Country where banks have always played a primary role.
Local and central government policies are now focused on Expo 2015. They all see this international event as an important tool to revamp the Italian economy after several years of recession. This would be a true cat-show of Italian and Milanese excellences, but several threats risk vanishing at least part of the goals. Infrastructure activities may be delayed in an effort to contrast criminal organizations trying to enter this profitable sector. Milan will also be in the spotlight in terms of project management, as strict deadlines need to be respected in the organization of this event. How can Milan use this opportunity to show its true values and competencies? After this Great Downturn, the economic scenario has dramatically changed in terms of global players, consumption and purchasing habits, supply chain management, employment trends, credit access, social and environmental values. Food, fashion and tourism are three important resources to Milan, Lombardy and Italy but need to come with strong management skills and financial support. That’s where Milan can really play a primary role. From US to Germany and France, new forms of credit have been spreading to support the development of companies. The private placement segment is among them: this is a suitable form of financing for non-quoted enterprises. Milan can’t risk missing this opportunity in a Country of SMEs. The financial industry needs to set the rules and the premises to develop this form of capital market. On the other side, even small companies which want to grow have to prepare themselves in terms of corporate finance and reporting capabilities. A wider access to financial resources will be possible only to those able to provide solid analysis on their business perspectives and actual results. On the other side, for many years non-financial companies have almost ignored financial risk analysis and management. That’s another area Milan needs to focus on. Real economy enterprises have to set their own hedging strategy, while the financial sector has to provide them with suitable hedging products. The ability to manage worldwide supply chain is another area where Milan needs to invest: moving fresh food and fashion goods in a timely and efficient way requires both logistics skills and sophisticated software tools. An increasing portion of sales will go through the Internet and advanced platforms will be required to manage both data and physical flows. All this services will need to be available to a network of enterprises which will collaborate along different stages of the supply chain or together in same stage (shared financial services, sales professionals, etc.).Highly skilled workers and a collaborating environment with universities and consultants will be an important step. While it’s true that the new technologies have significantly changed the ways of working and communicating, Milan can’t forget that physical infrastructure will continue representing a true value for its economic development. By trying to sell experiences before products, the city will have to welcome tourists from airports, highways, railway stations and offer them customized tourist services: arts, fashion tours, food and tasting, natural park visits… Risks may be high, but Milan businesses have a long experience to avoid past errors in those fields.
Global Partner status (Associate – Executive – Senior): Executive
Country of registration: Italy
City of registration: Milan
Finance and Business Due Diligence
Business and Financial Planning
Budgeting and Forecasting
Cost Accounting and Profitability Analysis
Financial Statements Analysis
IFRS – US GAAP
Financial Risk Management
Finance Processes and Organization
INDUSTRY SECTOR EXPERIENCE:
Textile and Apparel Industry
QUALIFICATIONS AND EDUCATIONAL ESTABLISHMENT:
CFA Charter – CFA Institute
Board Academy Program Certificate – Bellisario Foundation
Strategic Finance Certificate – IMD
Bachelor Degree in Economics and Business Administration – University of Turin
Patrizia graduated magna cum laude at the Italian University of Turin in March 1993, with a dissertation on exchange risk management. In August 1993 she was hired by the Italian affiliate of Hewlett Packard, where she started her career as a financial analyst. Her original responsibilities included cost accounting and manufacturing reporting for a printer business line. In this role, she worked with the US headquarter to improve the costing methodology and with the local management team to develop make-or-buy analysis, while taking costs under control. She was then assigned the responsibility of forecasting and P&L reporting for the same business line and a new-born one. In addition, she was involved in several project analysis: inventory control, supply chain design, product roll-out, working with both Italy and US division management. Thanks to her university background, she also provided the Geneva Financial Headquarter with exchange rate risk analysis for the Italian affiliate. After taking on additional responsibilities as team leader, she decided to leave the company for a managerial role in Levi Strauss Italy, where she was hired in Spring 1996 as Planning and Reporting Manager. In her new role, she pushed to redesign her department organization and processes, also involving Treasury and Administration in the project. The result was a leaner month-end closure, more leverage on people’s unique skills, additional tools for value-added analysis. At that time, Patrizia was directly reporting to the CFO and mainly working on top management projects, both in Italy and with the Brussels Headquarter. One of her main responsibilities was the support in price setting and profitability analysis, where she was an adviser to the CEO, the Commercial Director and the Merchandising Manager. She also supported the sourcing process with cost analysis and contributed to the development of the direct store channel and franchisee retailing. Having a natural attitude for non-routine activities, Patrizia decided at that point to find job opportunities in the consultancy business. She felt she needed to face new challenges by working in different environments, industries, projects. Gea Consulenti, an Italian consultancy boutique, took Patrizia on board in Spring 1998. She initially worked on ERP blue prints, contributing to the definition of finance processes and reporting models. She was also involved in the implementation phase, assuring the successful transition to the new ways of working. At the same time, she supported several GEA partners and colleagues with ad hoc financial analysis related to supply chain projects, business planning, profitability analysis, international due diligence. She worked for well-known GEA’s clients, also including Coin Group, Stefanel, Prénatal, Incotex, Bolton Group. Having improved her technical skills and experience, Patrizia decided to leave GEA to start an independent activity and develop her own intrepreneurial approach. She started working for new Clients and collaborating with consultancy and IT companies on specific projects. The continuous exposure to different contexts helped Patrizia become aware of new opportunities arising in the non-financial sector. In fact, she had realized that most companies were limiting their management reporting to the economic side and deserving poor attention to balance sheet, cash flow, financial risk management and, more in general, to corporate finance. As a consequence, she decided to enrol in the CFA Program: the right tool, she thought, to provide her Clients with stronger financial skills. Thanks to that, she could work on various value-added projects, including restructuring, due diligence, financial planning and reporting, strategy and competition analysis. She also helped some Clients of her manage and improve the relationship with banks, auditors, suppliers, customers. Several companies could easily develop tools and methods to define financial KPIs and regularly monitor them. Patrizia’s experience in this field covers some specific industries: mechanical, retail, insurance, ICT. In addition, she has both worked for quoted groups and Italian SMEs, also including family businesses. As a CFA Charterholder, Patrizia is obliged to adhere to a strict code of professional conduct and ethics which requires, among other duties, to reveal potential conflict of interests in advance. Patrizia is also Regular Member and a volunteer in CFA Society Italy and Member of ANDAF, the Italian Association of CFOs. In 2012 she was selected to attend the Bellisario Foundation Corporate Board Program, that she successfully completed in 2013. One of Patrizia’s passions is writing. She has written for the Italian Association of CFOs, Seeking Alpha, L’Impresa, BackToWork24, Mark-Up, Largo Consumo. In those articles, she makes leverage on her professional experience by sharing competencies and lessons learnt in the projects she has followed.
Milan – Italy
Lausanne – Switzerland
London – United Kingdom
Ljubljana – Slovenia
Prague – Czech Republic
Global Partner preferred location
To contact Patrizia Saviolo (EGP), please forward an email to the Academy of Business Strategy.