When I sent my curriculum vitae to Mondadori, in the conviction that my degree in architecture would give me the opportunity of working on one of the Group’s interiors titles, I never imagined that they would call me to offer me a position in the technical area.
The department was called Maintenance and Security Services and was made up of only men, including the secretary. It was responsible for managing the complex plant systems of the Niemeyer building and the organisation of the large open-space office areas. It was a bit like running a small town of more than a thousand people.
In almost twenty years the world around the building has changed completely and so has my job, starting from the name of the department that is now called Mondadori Group Real Estate.
Today, with my team, I oversee the management of all the corporate offices in Italy, primarily in three respects.
First and foremost, contractually, starting form the negotiation and drafting of lease contracts and all the related issues.
Secondly, the design of new and the optimization of existing spaces, and the transfer of staff, within the same premises or between different Group offices. This is a difficult and extremely delicate activity because it puts us in close contact with our colleagues in one of the moments that is said to be among the most stressful in life, moving.
The third area concerns building and plant maintenance, which does not have the same level of visibility but is equally important because it makes it possible for people to work in the various spaces of the different offices.
It is a varied, dynamic and stimulating job, in direct contact with many colleagues: we now have almost 2,000 people in the building.
I like to think that we work as a team, committed to solving everyday problems but, as one colleague said to me not long ago, the secret is knowing how to turn problems into opportunities.
I began working in Mondadori when I was 26, joining after my first job with one of the major audit firms.
I started as a controller of the holding company, but after a few years I was also given responsibility for the Group’s planning and control office, where I was involved, among other things, with management reporting, both forecasting and final, and where I prepared the presentation to the management of BU data, both forecasting and final.
In the summer of 2015 I received one of those offers that you can not refuse: the CFO of the Group called me and asked me to become the new head of accounting of the parent company and of all the companies in the magazine area.
At first it was quite a change, it was also a big jump, as I moved from having to prepare a budget to having to oversee a balance sheet, and from an office of 2/3 people to being the head of a structure of 25 people who, moreover, were all older than me, given that I was the youngest.
It was certainly a courageous move by the CFO because giving the job of head of accounts a company listed to a young man of just 35 is not something that happens every day, especially in Italy.
After some initial doubts, I soon realise that this could be the right position for me. The enormous trust that had been shown to me meant that I could only accept; the experience I had in auditing had prepared me technically, meaanwhile the years spent in management control had given me the opportunity to know all the company’s businesses, including magazines.
For me it was a source of great satisfaction because it signalled a recognition of all the work I had done up then. Often to build a career you have to change company and for me being able grow from the inside was a source of great pride.
And every year the budget presents a new challenge.
My first experience with Mondadori began in 2002: the events and translation agency where I worked during my studies had been asked for someone to support the communication team for the organisation of the Group’s annual convention.
I remember when I got the offer I couldn’t really believe it: the idea of working at the publishing house that published so many of the books I had loved and studied seemed like a dream come true.
The collaboration was supposed to last for just a month but more than 15 years have passed since then. I started as an event manager in the Communication Department. The first years were really stimulating and trained me for what was to come, the activities ranged from corporate to retail and from books to magazines. It was a period in which I really learned a lot.
My next assignment, which I will always remember with great emotion, saw me involved in a historical moment for the publishing house, in the organisation of special initiatives for the celebrations for the company’s centenary in 2007.
Later I became responsible for corporate identity and soon after also for the Group’s institutional initiatives.
The two sides of my job have different characteristics: looking after the corporate image involves constant study, analysis and the application of rules and structures to ensure that the communication of the brand is always consistent.
As for institutional initiatives, I concentrate mainly on organisational issues and problem solving. I really like planning an event, thinking it through from a to z and, above all, seeing it come to life.
The initiatives are truly varied: meetings with analysts, shareholders’ meetings, on-site activities, initiatives for employees and, last but not least, national and international trade fairs particularly related to book publishing. And of course, special projects.
Over the years I have seen the company transform itself and face changing and evolving scenarios. But, just as on my first day, I still feel privileged to work for this Group.
Recently, my return from maternity leave has been particularly gratifying, thanks to new stimuli and roles: a number of new challenges that make the job really exciting, every day. Indeed, I would even say that make it fun.
My name is Francesco Riganti and I am the Marketing Director of Mondadori Retail.
When people talk about “Mondadori”, the first thing that comes to mind is books, the book as a physical object. But the truth is Mondadori also means bookshops, so much so that Mondadori Retail is the Group company that currently manages well over 600 bookstores across the country.
When I arrived in 2013, there were 4 companies, each of which ran a separate business: there were directly managed stores, franchise outlets, online sales and the book club business. A process of progressive integration was begun that led to the creation of a single company, Mondadori Retail, and the setting up for the first time of a marketing department that worked across the different channels and all of the business units. And consequently the definition of a single marketing strategy, a brand strategy and a fascia strategy.
My department carries out all the activities that come under the definition and the umbrella of marketing. First of all market analysis and research: this means trying to understand the behavioural dynamics of customers, consumers and the market; CRM, in other words all the activities that aim to attract new and the retention of existing customers; events, web marketing, social and digital media, which are more and more important; trade marketing, which means all those communication activities that are developed in-store; and then digital innovation, which includes projects that focus on and use technology in terms of innovation and that reinforce our digital reading offer.
We are now in a period of great change, there is an ongoing evolution that is highly conditioned by technology and for a retail model like ours, which by its nature has shops that we can not ignore, it is increasingly really important to be able to integrate the online world, the ecosystem in which we all now live and work, with the physical world.
I believe that the companies that will be able to remain competitive in the future will be those that are able to integrate, in a distinctive way, their digital assets with their physical assets, in our case the stores, and, of course, the human component.
I have been working at Mondadori, in the human resources department, for about 10 years. I joined the company after two shorter experiences in other, similarly large and structured, companies, but not operating in publishing.
I have always been fond of books and a keen reader of magazines. The possibility of working in such a fascinating and creative context, field and sector, and the possibility to develop a detailed knowledge of the dynamics related to the creation and production of such products were very significant motivations for me to join Mondadori.
For the first 5 years I managed the selection, training and development activities for the book division and for the central staff. Later I was offered a change of role, still within the human resources department, but as HR Business Partner for the Trade Books area.
For me this was an opportunity for growth as it would allow me to expand my skills in the fundamentals of human resources: with responsibility for management, organisation, but also compensation and relations with trade unions.
In this new role I have the opportunity to oversee, along with the department heads and their staff, of all the HR issues concerning them: from recruitment and entry into the company up to the definition of development plans and internal growth.
It is a role that offers great satisfaction and involves trying – and it is not always easy – to reconcile the needs of the organisation with those of the people who are part of it.
Even now, after ten years, I consider it a privilege to be able to interface with some of the leading protagonists of the diffusion of Italian culture every day. The job also offers great opportunities for enrichment, both from a professional and a personal perspective.
I started as a young student engaged in historical research who wanted to become a university professor, then I started a series of freelance collaborations with very small educational publishers in Bergamo. I worked for fourteen years in Turin, then, finally in 2010, I moved to Milan and started a great new adventure.
Publishing for schools operates along three principal coordinates.
The first is that educational publishing is project publishing. What this means is that the publisher has to look for an author to create and plan an editorial product suitable for the school market, the syllabus, and the teaching of the subject.
Project publishing, unlike the publishing of authors, in which there is essentially a single author who has produced a novel and who looks for a publisher to act as an intermediary and put his work on the market.
The second very important point about the specificity of school textbooks is that the product, with regard to the school cycle, is almost always a multi-year product, so there are different volumes; an now usually there is both a physical and a digital part.
Finally, there is a third element that characterises the educational publishing sector, and this has to do with the end user. The editorial project must be designed and created with the student in mind. But the characteristic of this sector that between the publisher and the student there is a decisive player: i.e. the teacher. For it is the teachers who decide which text to adopt, which book is most in line with their didactic approach, needs, habits and the context in which they work.
As you can see, it is a complex world but with an intrinsic beauty; a trunk full of surprises, where skill, experience and, above all, creativity are essential.
Believe me, it’s an adventure that can often seem crazy.
I first worked at Mondadori on an internship in 2009 in the magazine marketing area, specifically for the fitness and health sector. This gave me a behind the scenes look at the beauty and fascination of this world.
After completing the internship I worked initially in the mobile division – developing browser apps for all of the Mondadori titles and this was a big help for my next job when Mondadori offered me a fantastic opportunity to become the product manager for the Donna Moderna web site, which has since become Italy’s leading women’s portal.
My next challenge was to oversee the print-digital integration process for Starbene.
In 2015 I started managing the marketing for the entire Mondadori food hub. In addition to taking care of the content and product, I was also able to develop another important area, events. I also opened the Sale&Pepe cooking school.
In addition to these brands, I have also added the kids hub. And another interesting opportunity emerged when we started to develop new lines of business, events around the country and projects for schools.
If I think back to how I started as an intern, well, I have to say, I’ve made some progress!
What I’ve learned in fifteen years of working here at Mondadori, first as editor and now as editorial director, is that books have a body and a soul.
A book has a body because it is a thing; regardless of whether it is on paper or digital. It’s something tangible, the creation of which has a cost and which is sold at a price. It has production and distribution needs. It has, as it were, friction.
But I’ve also learned that a book has a soul and it is crucial for those of us who are in this business to know how to grasp and handles this aspect.
Choosing a book to publish means understanding whether the text has a soul, something that pulsates inside of it, something that makes is particular, special.
Curating a book means understanding exactly what its soul is, to focus on it, if not you risk confusing it with others and betraying it.
Launching a book means trying to communicate that soul to the outside world: with a title, a cover, a marketing or communication plan.
During these years at Mondadori I have learned how important it is to keep the body and soul of books together, almost mixing them up to the point where you’re not quite sure they are really two separate things.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the editorial process is that you never fully understand it.
But then, that’s also what happens with the most interesting people and the most beautiful poems.
I started working in the digital area of the Mondadori Group during an experimental, almost pioneering, period. Initially I was involved in the forums and social media activities of Donna Moderna and then, later on, I began also working on the social media activities of the Group’s other brands.
Working in social media means working in a constantly evolving context, made up of words, but also of numbers.
The acquisition by the Mondadori Group of Banzai Media, in 2016, led to the creation of a new digital area with an inevitable mix of people from Mondadori and new colleagues from Banzai. It was clearly a great leap forward, in that coming into such close contact with a former competitor, with people who were once our rivals, was like bringing two halves together: those who were traditional stronger on the content side and those who were “natively” digital. The result has been a really strong team able to create new synergies. Of course it’s a greater risk, but we get to try lots of things, and the results can be seen.
It’s great to have so many challenges, while at the same time seeing so many dreams being realised through the efforts of people who believe in them.