Interview with Lucia Chierchia, Managing Partner of GELLIFY

Lucia Chierchia graduated in mechanical engineering from the Politecnico di Milano and subsequently obtained an Executive Master in Innovation Technology and Management from a leading Italian business school.

She started her professional experience in the Aerospace sector and later moved to the Home Appliances Business, to Whirpool Corporation and later to the Electrolux group.

After holding various managerial positions in the technological organization, in 2011 Lucia accepted the challenge of implementing the open innovation model in the Electrolux Group: she defined and implemented the company’s open innovation strategy, creating new alliances with partners external, industrial, academic and financial networks.

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lei In her 2015 TEDx Talk, she told the story of the Electrolux Open Innovation team, born and raised as a startup within the company.

She then created and led the Electrolux Group Innovation Hub, with the mission of cultivating corporate ecosystems by creating access to new technologies, business opportunities and collaborative models.

Recognizing her career path, in 2013 she received the “Alumni Polimi Award” of the Politecnico di Milano. In March 2017 you received the FEDERMANAGER “Merit & Talent” award in the “Digital Innovation” category. In November 2017 you received the “Young Manager” award from FEDERMANAGER.

Thanks to the Electrolux experience, she discovered that she felt part of the ecosystem made up of innovators, start-ups, entrepreneurs … and then she decided to build her own way of starting her entrepreneurial path.

1. What exactly is your job and what are the biggest challenges you face every day?

GELLIFY is a startup founded in March 2017 focused on financing and accelerating digital B2B companies. The target typically served is made up of startups and SMEs that are ready to scale, to which GELLIFY offers smart money, skills and access to the market. Within GELLIFY, I have the responsibility of building the Open Innovation Platform and the new Business Line “Industry 4.0”.

I arrived at GELLIFY very recently, at the beginning of February 2018, after 11 – fantastic – years spent within the Electrolux Group, up to the last global role at the head of the Innovation Hub. Thanks to my role in the innovation area, I had the opportunity to enter direct contact with startuppers, innovators, investors and entrepreneurs, I was “contaminated” and I understood having, in turn, the DNA of an entrepreneur, even more than a manager – a role that has contributed in a fundamental way to making me what I am now. For this reason, I will never tire of thanking Electrolux for giving me the opportunity to move within the ecosystem of innovators with all the degrees of freedom necessary to fully understand the mechanisms and build what is today the Innovation Hub by Electrolux.

The biggest challenge I am currently facing, consequently, is precisely that of “changing hat”, passing from a purely managerial job to an entrepreneurial one, moreover in a fast, innovative and I continue to become like that of a startup at GELLIFY compared to the more traditional operations of a large industrial group.

It’s a challenge that I love and that is literally thrilling me.

2. What was the best and most difficult professional moment you experienced?

I think I’ve been very lucky in my career and have had a lot of good times. I remember with great pleasure when, about six years ago, I was offered to build Open Innovation in Electrolux. That business grew rapidly, then transforming itself into a real Innovation Hub, now made up of four global units: Open Innovation, Technology Garage, Technology Liaisons, Innovation Academy (offices in Italy, China and the United States).

However, I must say that the most exciting moment ever remains the one I experienced a few months ago, when – after just five days during which I had to decide whether or not to jump aboard GELLIFY – I finally dissolved my reservations (primarily with myself) by communicating, with extreme joy and a pinch of lucid madness, my positive decision to the one who is now my CEO, a successful entrepreneur and an exceptional person from whom I will be able to learn a lot.

Curious, from my point of view, how my saddest moment is contextual to the most beautiful one: communicating to my former colleagues at Electrolux, who have given me so much both from a human point of view than professional, the fact that I was leaving was in fact very difficult and painful, compensated only by the excitement for the new adventure and the awareness of being, in any case, taking a leap – the one in the world of entrepreneurs – that I had long wanted.

3. What does the term “leadership” mean to you and how do you try to bring it into your work environment every day?

I believe that leadership is the ability to positively influence people who, directly or indirectly, are in contact with us.

I try to do it by being myself, always focusing on transparency and clear communication of my thoughts and sometimes even my emotions. I firmly believe in the values ​​of honesty and sincerity, which I hope can be identified as characteristic features of my professional style. I also believe in sharing (of information, vision, etc.), because I think that authoritarian and centralizing leadership is now anachronistic. In fact, I believe that a leader can be defined as “strong” if, a priori, his own team considers itself as such.

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4. What does the term “innovation” mean to you and how do you try to bring it into your working environment every day?

Innovation is synonymous with new economic and social value, for customers and consumers, today and tomorrow. Technology, even the most sophisticated, if it is not applied, used and sold, does not constitute true innovation. In this context, innovation is synonymous with business, in the broad sense of the term.

It is natural to be afraid of the new and it is therefore necessary to work to remove any barriers that may be encountered in the adoption of an innovation. Obviously, it does not impose itself but seeks to accompany – through positive examples and success stories – in understanding and adopting innovation. Only in this way, by making it internalize, can it be understood, accepted, and, consequently, spread successfully in the market.

5. Your favorite quote?

“Open mind for a different view … and nothing else matters.” – Metallica

Thank you very much Lucia for taking the time and for the interesting conversation.

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