Interview with Robert Ferrari

"Keep taking chances, drop every fear...if we’re not willing to risk the unusual, we will have to settle for the ordinary."

Robert L. Ferrari
Former International Business Manager

Master of International Business Administration 2021 Batch


Please tell us something about yourself, your family and your interests.

I possess a strong desire to help, support, and advance others and I have demonstrated that on many occasions. I enjoy meeting new people and developing existing networks. I love reading, understanding, and influencing others. I am always happy in roles that require a high level of interaction but at the same time, I  like to work productively and perform efficiently in an independent setting. I consider myself a driven yet balanced individual, calm and focused in times of challenge, able to stay level headed in the face of adversity. Intuitive, a hands-on learner, analytical and agile, I am able to learn and implement new techniques and understandings in a very short time frame.
I am married to Carla, the love of my life and we’ve been together since 2011; we are celebrating our 10th Anniversary this year. We’ve spent the last eight years in NYC (USA). Since we had lived far away from our families for long, we came back to Italy earlier last year. I wanted to achieve an IMBA degree in order to elevate both professional and educational possibilities.

Music is one of my biggest passions. I am an aspiring Electro-Tech & Progressive House DJ/Producer, with some clubbing experience and I love to create new beats and tracks that perhaps could become future hits. I enjoy cooking and learning about culinary traditions in general while developing my own recipes.
Having led an Italian Designer Lighting Manufacturing Company in the USA, I became a big Lighting aficionado, always looking forward to new technologies and design, playing with basic Interior Designing software, and making lighting design arrangements. Fashion, Design, and Hospitality industries have also been very important in my career as I developed understanding of the respective marketplaces and grew companies in these sectors to the next level. 
I enjoy social media and content writing. I post regularly on subjects that would inspire people in my network, and beyond.
Swimming, soccer, scuba diving, and bodyboarding are my go-to activities. I am an Advance Padi registered Diver and a well-versed bodyboarder. Unfortunately, the pandemic interrupted many sports activities.

What drew you to the program you are studying at Athena? Is it living up to your expectations?

Getting an MBA degree has always been a dream and important goal for me. The IMBA Program with Athena Global Education caught my attention as it offers flexibility, incorporates both my professional and academic interests and I’m confident it will allow me to develop a wide range of skills.  It will also help me to meet the demanding expectations of the present business environment and support my reintegration in the workplace with a much stronger predisposition. 
This course of study has the potential to provide me with tools essential to inspire, engage with and lead fellow colleagues and future organizations to progress in an environment of relentless change. So far, I have enjoyed the interaction and the program is living up to my expectations. I am confident it will be a rewarding journey.

What would you like to learn next? what are your next career steps?

My next step would be refining my comprehension about international business in general, tailored to a specific niche at the marketplace. I always believed that to be successful and competitive in the world today, organizations must advance their management strategies, sustainability, and development swiftness. All organizations must also galvanize and motivate the workforce. We are in desperate need of leaders who actually acknowledge how important the understanding of strategic and transformational leadership is and how crucial employee commitment is to their success.

Are you working somewhere? If yes, what do you feel is the most enjoyable/rewarding aspect of your job?

Right now, I am not working. I relocated to Italy last year after I resigned from my last position with Culinarte. After years of relentless work with hardly any time off, being incredibly busy with our jobs in the USA, my wife and I decided to take some time off to reunite with our family while re-establishing ourselves here in Italy, reintegrating ourselves at the workplace, and consolidating my studies.
Unfortunately, the pandemic hit us hard here in March 2020, so things started to slow down. The rest is work in progress. 

What do you see as your greatest strength?

I cannot name one, I’d like to list my top 6 strengths:

Enthusiasm: Maintaining a positive attitude and a love for life, I’ve always been capable of resolving conflict when it occurred. My interpersonal skills have helped me to motivate people and to support their growth and development. 

Creativity: I love tackling challenging scenarios as they are an opportunity to grow,  and to implement solutions with utmost care and transparent communication. I love using out-of-the-box thinking process, never settling for comfort zones.

Patience: I’ve always known calm and patience to be virtues of the strong ones. Therefore, I have worked hard on developing these particular skills. Staying level-headed and focused, especially in times of challenges and crisis is crucial in any environment.

Respectful attitude: The ability to be empathetic and respectful of others is fundamental to any relationship. I have worked hard developing social, emotional, and cognitive maturity in order to anticipate the needs of others and be able to celebrate their value and beauty.

Determination: One of my greatest strengths is determination. I am a driven, focused individual single-mindedly pursuing a goal, enduring and striving along the way regardless of the obstacles and difficulties experienced.  

Communication: Clear, consistent, and transparent communication have been crucial traits to hone in my professional career. I believe great leadership also consists in being able to transfer knowledge and deliver information in the simplest possible way.

What is your most cherished memory?

Definitely my wedding. I remember how challenging it was since both my wife and I were located in New York. We celebrated our civil marriage at the New York City Hall in 2014; four years later, as I settled in my new position as Director of Growth with Charles Viancin, we decided to officially celebrate our marriage with our families in Southern Italy. We had to finalize all arrangements: wedding dresses, location, seating arrangements, decorations, flowers, photographers, music for the big day over phone. We only got to see our location, decide the menus and other important things ten days prior to the celebration day. The Wedding Day was clearly the best day of my life, one I will cherish forever; but most of all I believe it was the preparation, which together with my wife, and some assistance received from our families that we made an extraordinary event, an unforgettable dream coming true.

Which country have you always wanted to visit and why?

I believe Japan would be one of my favorite places to visit. The country, the cultural heritage, and distinctive traditions have always fascinated me. I have known quite a few people from Japan who have left a significant mark on me. I am awed by their connection with nature, sharpness, and advanced knowledge of their culture.
I’m very much looking forward to experiencing their world soon with a desire to visit their suburban areas and getting lost in the country’s landscapes and most beautiful places.

Do you have professional role models? Who are they and what do you find inspiring about them and their accomplishments?

This is a great opportunity to name a few of my favorite role models.

Keanu Reeves- Although he has experienced a lot of setbacks and heartbreaking losses of his loved ones, his persevering attitude and his love for life are really intense and unique. Not to mention his work ethics, acting skills and charitable efforts, simply a unique man.

Barack Obama- Perhaps one of the most liberal Presidents of the USA, he set a legacy fighting for equality and healthcare. His leadership style was powerful and quite unique, and together with his charisma, incredibly powerful oratorical skills and humility, he was able to appeal to younger crowds. I believe he possessed a set of qualities all leaders should develop: outstanding work ethics, positive attitude, careful behavior, and versatility.

Elon Musk- One of the most influential visionaries we’ve ever experienced. From his early venture with coding and programming to his financial journey with X, the credit card company that made him a fortune, then PayPal, to his EV development with Tesla, to Space X, flying rockets and satellites out of the atmosphere and now with a plan to colonize Mars, he has surely made an impact. Impressive are his work ethics, leadership, and entrepreneurial styles. He surely is a man to follow.

Maradona-I believes he is the greatest Soccer player of all time. His dedication to the sport and to his fans, who by the way moved mountains just to see him play, the respect for the game and his opponents, the incredible training he underwent, but most of all, the way he ran against all odds, no matter how many obstacles he had to overcome and the way he played the ball, were simply poetry.

Michael Jordan- The greatest basketball player of all time, a global icon who along with fantastic individual accomplishments,  took his fellow team players to a whole new level. A global icon who set a legacy on the court worldwide, holding records in a number of statistics, only second to Babe Ruth in terms of athletic greatness, a phenomenal athlete with a unique combination of fundamental soundness, grace, speed, power, artistry, improvisational ability and an unquenchable competitive desire.  He made himself a fortune with brand names such as Air Jordan, a majority stake in Charlotte Hornets and other brands he owned. He has inspired many generations ever since.

If you could go on a road trip with anyone in history, who would it be?

I would want to hang out with either Julius Caesar or Sir Winston Churchill. Both belong to the list of greatest leaders of all time. Julius Caesar is known for his decisiveness, boldness, eagerness, motivation, opportunism and strategic planning, not to mention his oratory skills and power; his capability to inspire and his efforts towards territorial expansion, which later converted to the Roman-Empire becoming the most impressive establishment of any imperial system in history. 
While Sir Churchill was known for his fearlessness, determination, unyielding perseverance and undying devotion to his goal, he has never been mentioned as being defeated in a battle throughout his entire life. The opportunity of tapping into their greatness, learning more about their methods and techniques, their ability to plan and adapt to change, their inspiration process, their drive, and their extraordinary will to leave a legacy for centuries to come, would be simply breathtaking.   

What have you learnt from your experiences that you would like to pass on to others?

Life is an amazing adventure and it has an amusing way of working out. The secret of getting ahead is to start consistently with a fresh new perspective. I grew up here in southern Italy, where both my parents and grandparents believed that “You learn by making mistakes”. This simple yet extraordinary lesson stuck with me deeply as I ran companies and led people by trial and error. Times of challenge and crisis is part of the process, part of our human journey, and in order to overcome their difficulties, we must resiliently persevere with the objective to reach the best version of ourselves in order to instill the same virtues in others.

I have learned to be fearless; fearlessness starts with having faith and taking risks. Having faith starts with letting go and getting out of our comfort zone. The roads less traveled are usually fraught with uncharted terrains, however, that’s exactly how our characters are tested. I find it way scarier to follow the easiest paths, there is nothing to learn, and personally, I avoid the easy way; on the contrary, I enjoy challenges. A challenge makes life interesting and overcoming it makes life meaningful. I love stepping into the unknown, getting excited for the unseen... these are only a few ways to develop ourselves. Keep taking chances, drop every fear..if we’re not willing to risk the unusual, we will have to settle for the ordinary. If we don’t like the road we’re walking, we should start paving a new one and have fun doing so. Take the risk, ignore the fall. If it’s meant to be, it’s worth it all!!! 

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