Shaping tomorrow: The Power of Sustainable Business 2023

On Tuesday, November 7, we had the privilege of hosting the second edition of “The Power of Sustainable Business” in collaboration with ELIS and Distretto Italia. This edition brought together esteemed industry leaders to delve into the crucial role of sustainability and innovation in shaping the future of Italian companies. Moderated by Francesca Chialà, the distinguished panel included Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO of FINCANTIERI; Cristina Spagna, CEO of Kilpatrick; Gian Luca Orefice, Director of Human Capital and Organization at Autostrade per l’Italia (ASPI); Massimiliano Branchi, Chief People, HSEQ, and Sustainability Officer at Saipem; and Valeria Bonilauri, Head of Innovation and Development at ELIS.


A Dive into Sustainable Practices

Sustainability goes beyond talk – as Francesca Chialà stated at the opening: “We need to forget the word sustainability and instead come with concrete examples”. CEOs and HR managers gathered to share concrete experiences from Italian companies that are leading the world in sustainable practices and wholeheartedly committed to preserving our planet, supporting communities and individuals, and fundamentally transforming their business and organisational models. This year’s event aimed not only to exchange ideas but also to inspire significant positive changes.


Insights from Abroad: Manageritalia’s Research

One of the event’s highlights, which underscored the importance of taking action, was the research conducted on over 500 Italian managers currently residing abroad. The research, conducted by Cosimo Finzi from Astraricerche, Enrico Pedretti, Marketing and Communication Director at ManagerItalia and Claudia Paoletti Managing Partner at Kilpatrick, compared the level of attention given to sustainability in Italy versus other countries. Unfortunately, the findings revealed an uncomfortable truth: Italy is falling behind.

In various dimensions, Italy lags behind its international counterparts. When considering the well-being of individuals in the workplace, encompassing aspects such as welfare, work-life balance, and physical and mental well-being, only 15% believe that Italy prioritizes these areas more, while a significant 70% assert that greater attention is given abroad. In terms of environmental sustainability, 45% feel that more emphasis is placed on it outside of Italy, in contrast to the 25% who believe Italy gives it priority.


Pioneering Perspectives

The event unfolded with an engaging interview featuring Pierroberto Folgiero.

“Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO and Managing Director of the Fincantieri Group, highlighted how being world leaders in high-value-added shipbuilding entails the burden and the honor of being pioneers in technological innovation and sustainability, because we have to open the route for others.

In particular, Folgiero told about the new projects that Fincantieri intends to lead, from offshore wind to underwater, passing through hydrogen.

Without forgetting the financial governance and social responsibility of a Group that employs about 90,000 people in the world, cooperating with strategic suppliers who generate over 158 billion as aggregate turnover, and is at the forefront of issues of inclusiveness and diversity”


Cristina Spagna introduced and emphasized the “4 C’s” – Cuore (Heart), Cervello (Brain), Coraggio (Courage), and Confrontation – as essential benchmarks for effective business management.

Gian Luca Orefice from Autostrade further emphasized that as a manager, you should start from a strong set of values when shaping and driving an organization, taking the best of sentimentality and projecting yourself toward the future with a role in full support of people.

Massimilliano Branchi of Saipem added a groundbreaking sustainability perspective, highlighting the NFPS iFEED PROJECT. This innovative project aims to enhance natural gas extraction from the offshore North Field, a significant venture operated by Qatargas. It stands among the world’s largest non-associated natural gas fields, situated off the northeast coast of the Qatar peninsula.

Valeria Bonilauri, Head of Innovation and Development at ELIS, emphasized specialized training and collaboration between Distretto Italia and Autostrade per l’Italia (ASPI). She highlighted the importance of investing in training programs and “tradeschools” for practical education. Valeria’s perspective showcased the financial world’s role in supporting sustainable practices and preparing the workforce for the future.

Francesca Chialà wrapped up the discussion, stressing the need to minimize slide usage in events. She urged a shift towards communicating concrete projects and actions rather than fixating on the term sustainability. The collective dialogue emphasised the significance of meticulous communication, event preparation, and a synergistic approach to achieve practical goals.


In conclusion, “The Power of Sustainable Business” event in collaboration with ELIS and Distretto Italia showcased the transformative potential of sustainability and innovation in shaping the future of Italian companies. The insightful discussions led by industry leaders highlighted the urgent need to move beyond rhetoric and prioritize concrete actions. The research findings emphasized the importance of catching up to international standards in terms of workplace well-being and environmental sustainability. The pioneering perspectives shared by CEOs and experts demonstrated that sustainable business practices can drive positive change and pave the way for a more resilient and prosperous future. It is clear that by embracing sustainability as a strategic imperative, Italian companies can not only thrive but also contribute significantly to global sustainability efforts.