Exclusive Talks with
Today we are guests in a very special place - the ‘Magazzini Oz” warehouses founded by Casa Oz, a Turin-based company dedicated to giving care and hospitality to children and their families whose lives have been touched by illness and disease. We are here with two entrepreneurs who work in polar-opposite fields - Enrica Baricco president of Casa Oz and Paolo Bellezza, works with those remotely piloted aircraft which are better known as drones. Let's find out what the common ground is between two activities which, on the surface, appear so distant from each other.
I would like to begin our chat with a question to Paolo Bellezza, who works in a rather technical and specialised sector and yet, which is part of an extremely varied network. Why did you think it important to work with such different companies?
It is very important to create a networking system. We are in a competitive world where we entrepreneurs are under a degree of incredible pressure which simply didn’t exist before. So many times we hear it said that when we Italians create a system, we succeed! Here, perhaps it is a much simpler and more flexible way to use a business network to team up, to unite the excellence of Exclusive Brands Torino through their history & culture and take their brands to the rest of the world. It is an opportunity for we small- and medium-sized enterprises to be able to join forces and intervene in different markets.
On the other hand, Casa Oz has elected to be a Charity Partner of Exclusive Brands Torino, so I ask Enrica Baricco to justify this decision.
Well, before I answer your question we’d like to thank Exclusive Brands Torino for accepting our proposal. As regards your question, it is also very important for us to be able to create a system: associations like ours thrive thanks to collaborations with individual donors, as well as those coming from the business world. We therefore need to get to know each other; we need to experience each other’s worlds more and more, so that we are able to engage like any corporate enterprise – efficiently and by providing the best service we can offer. In this way we can succeed over time, by building shared projects with profitable organisations. This means truly being able to be Charity Partner by designing together. And this is now happening more and more in Italy… for us it was an important experience; a beginning of a journey together.
Enrica has mentioned some important concepts such as sharing mutual knowledge by sharing the same pathway. This applies to all companies in your network. I’ll now ask Paolo Bellezza - who deals with a very specific sector – in what ways, in his case, he can uphold those principles and responsibilities towards both society in general and everything connected with the company.
This is a very important question. The company consists of a set of movable and immovable assets; of people who work and who allow the entrepreneur to carry out his business. So the entrepreneur is faced with internal factors and external factors. It is obvious that an entrepreneur of an SME is very different to an entrepreneur of a multinational, where a wrong choice has harmful effects on millions of people. However, it is true that an entrepreneur of an SME immediately feels an ethical and moral responsibility towards his employees and wants the best conditions possible for them. Referring back to the previous questions, it’s about changing the social aspect through business networks and associations. The social impact therefore becomes very important. That’s why having Charity Partners within Exclusive Brands Torino is also something that helps us towards a better world.
We are currently, in many ways, going through a particularly difficult moment of crisis – economically but also socially and in terms of health & well-being. So two companies that have incorporated moral values and responsibility into their manifesto have certainly had to take on very serious measures. So, I’ll ask Enrica how, in her sector, the crisis was embraced, exploited or, in the very least, navigated through.
You are right, we cannot ignore this very difficult period in our history. Bear in mind the fact that we deal with services to people and how fragile people our feeling at the moment. Furthermore, these are people who were already living through a crisis so what we now have is an emergency within an emergency. These are people who have to be taken care of in a physical place like Casa Oz, which immediately posed enormous difficulties, a fact that I always try to share with both the guys and those who work there, as well as with our guests. I believe we must be able to turn a challenge into an opportunity, so that what we do reaches the people we care for, despite the difficult times we are facing. We also tried to invent an everyday routine that could keep families and children close - obviously by exploiting online technology. We reinvented ourselves - it was like we were playing a sport in a different way – once we played one way and now we play this way. You do need to have flexibility, ability and never give up. We cannot give up, we are on the front line, we are one of the essential services. In times of crisis and difficulty there can actually be a little more time to think about things. We are also investing in training the people who work with us and who must expand their abilities - as in any profit-making company – in order to keep on doing what we do, but in the best possible way – looking ahead, while ensuring that we are always there for people, despite the distance that needs to be overcome.
We have found such strong common-ground between your two profit and non-profit companies - that you are both centred on people, respect and care. Since both of you have been working at this for over 15 years now, I would like to ask you how this commitment has changed and been altered in the past and what you wish for most in the future.
This is a very interesting question: participating in a business network has certainly proved a turning point for us, by being able to position ourselves on the international market in a different way. It has been 15 years of alternating success and envy, because, unfortunately, let's not forget that envy is a human trait. As an ever-optimistic entrepreneur, what I expect from the future is perhaps a more digitised world, but in a good way – by reducing bureaucracy, which, especially in Italy, hinders our entrepreneurial spirit. I also think that only through showing greater respect for each other will we be able to overcome all the crises that are gripping us today.
What about you Enrica?
I have brought this pop-up book of the Wizard of Oz: a story that has always been a way for us to illustrate how, together, we can overcome the storm and, in doing so, make each other stronger in the process. We want to do this at Casa Oz - in such a difficult historical moment it is even more important to look back at where it all began. After that we are in a storm; not a perfect storm, but almost. Right now our priority is to stay afloat and I expect Casa Oz and Oz Warehouses to do just that so we are there to be near the families and the people we care for to help them override the storm. I expect that as with Exclusive Brands Torino, other realities will come closer to realities like ours and we’ll be able to work together, support each other and to make concrete plans together. The future of a non-profit sector like ours must be complete integration with other productive sectors in our community.
Special hanks to both our guests! Because they talked to us about a special, increasingly important aspect of excellence and business networking - the aspect of moral responsibility towards not only employees but to everyone who is part of a company.
Thanks again to Paolo Bellezza and Enrica Baricco.