For Nicola Serafin, reaching 20 years at the well-known Italian company De'Longhi meant it was time for him to get out of his comfort zone. Nicola was in search of new insights and experiences at De’Longhi when he joined London Business School’s (LBS) Executive MBA (EMBA) in 2014, but he wanted the chance to add value to this family-owned business in an entirely new way.
“At the mid-point of my career, I found myself asking, ‘What can I contribute to this company and to myself? How can I go forward differently?’ So I came to LBS for a combination of personal and professional reasons.”
Three months after completing the EMBA, Nicola was promoted to Chief Operating Officer and Chief Technical Officer of the De'Longhi Group. Prior to that, he was already responsible for the operations and technical product development for some product areas such as home care and kitchen; now he has responsibility for the whole group.
“I have a broader, combined role now,” he says. With just five other peers at C-level, today Nicola has a direct impact on De'Longhi’s business and growth strategy. His responsibilities extend from operations to supply chain, manufacturing to technical product development.
Nicola joined the EMBA classroom with an open mind but was surprised by how willing his experienced classmates were to share their failures. Learning in a safe context was key to the entire learning experience, he says. “I remember Marcus Alexander told us, ‘It's better to make mistakes here in class, because we’re not using real money. Do it now.’ So we all did – and I learnt from my peers' experiences, challenges and failures.”
Nicola and his classmates have stayed in touch and he’s now exploring new opportunities with peers in mutually beneficial industries. “I had a great class, a great academic context to learn. In the real world, I take decisions that affect thousands of people and hundreds of millions of euros of business. You need to be confident that you’re making the right choices. I can honestly say that my contribution to the business has been shaped by the trust of my classmates.”