Transform your business

“If you feel like you’ve reached maturity, it’s time to move forward differently.”

Nicola Serafin

CTO & COO, De'Longhi Group
Participant, EMBAL2016


Draw confidence from your peers

“If you feel like you’ve reached maturity, it’s time to move forward differently.”

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Breaking the S-curve
“After 20 years at De;Longhi, my career was approaching a plateau and the company had tracked the typical S-curve – where rapid sales growth slows and begins to taper off.   So 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?"

“The company’s big challenge was to escape this plateau phase and continue evolving. I felt I needed to do the same if I was going to successfully contribute – that’s why I came to LBS.

“The EMBA developed my understanding of M&A, strategic innovations how to create new value. I was able to immediately suggest practical insights and implement change in the boardroom. Before LBS, I couldn;t have contributed in this way with this confidence.”

“Three months after I completed my EMBA, I was promoted to COO and CTO of the De;Longhi Group. Prior to that, I was responsible for the operations and technical product development for some product areas such as home care and kitchen. Now I’m responsible for the whole group." 

“In my new role, I operate with just five other peers at C-level, so my decisions have a direct impact on De;Longhi’s business and growth strategy."

“The most valuable piece of advice I’ve taken forward has concerned our approach to acquisitions – ‘Try to get the best out of both company cultures.’ Over the years, De;Longhi has acquired companies such as Braun and Kenwood to act as accelerators. Often the acquiring company dominates and tries to impose its culture on the acquired business. But I discovered that every culture has the same potential to bring value."

“For example, after acquiring Kenwood, we changed some of our processes thanks to the experience of Kenwood’s employees. To get the best from everyone, we need a respectful approach – to listen, suspend judgement and discover as much as possible about what and who we are buying. Now we avoid imposing our policies, processes and perceptions – and take time to understand everybody’s perspective.”

A psychologically safe space

“Learning in a safe context was key to the entire learning experience.”

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Sharing successes - and failures

“I was surprised by how willing my experienced classmates were to share their failures. Learning in a safe context was key to the entire learning experience. 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."

“My classmates and I have stayed in touch and I’m 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.”

“You can go faster alone but in a team you can go further.”

A shared failure is a shared insight

“It;s better to make mistakes in class when not using real money. We all did – and I learnt from my peers experiences, challenges and failures.”

Real-life business lessons

“I discovered that every company has the same potential to bring value.”