Want to learn what advice you could learn from a Bocconi alumnus that is now Senior Director at Verizon Media? Giovanni Gardelli spilled the tea on topics such as the best skill he gained at Bocconi and the hard/soft skills that helped him land a job at Silicon Valley. Check out the interview Tra i Leoni & Jobs conducted on him to get a head start on what you should be doing in order to get into that field.
Giovanni Gardelli was born and raised in Forli, a small province in Emilia Romagna. He graduated from Bocconi in 2009 from CLEAM. During his undergraduate, he did an exchange at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School (USA). He then pursued his master’s degree in the joint program Bocconi-Fudan University in International Management. He is currently Senior Director at Verizon Media.
Best memory at Bocconi?
To be honest, my best memories are from the time I spent either in America or in China. Back in Shanghai, we lived in an international student dorm and I used to study until very late at night. When I got hungry, I would go downstairs to the only place that was still open to buy some snacks. At that time, there were not many people so I started talking with the owner. I see it as one of the best experiences because I learned how to surpass the language barrier. What I really like about Bocconi is that it has great relationships with other universities, which makes it possible for you to broaden your horizons. It wouldn’t have been that easy if I hadn’t had so many experiences abroad to pursue my career in Silicon Valley.
Best skill gained at Bocconi?
Ambition. I don’t know if it is a proper skill, but it has been one of the most important things Bocconi taught me. Bocconi helped me broaden my views and learn how much there is out there. Regarding the teaching side, strategy was very important. To this day, I can see that a lot of the frameworks I learned in the strategy classes are still so applicable and helpful in my day-to-day job.
I am Senior Director at Verizon and I manage the team that is responsible for all Identity and Targeting products for Verizon Media AdTech platforms. Verizon Media is a subsidiary of Verizon, which is a telecommunication company like Vodaphone in Italy. It is the digital division, and was born from the merger of Yahoo and AOL.
Experiences that helped you get to the point you are now?
During my first year of my master’s degree, Bocconi helped us win an internship over the summer before coming back from Shanghai. I interned at a Chinese start-up ad-tech company. I reached out proactively as they were building the company and the founder agreed to hire me even though they weren’t planning to hire international staff in the near future.
That allowed me to get a second internship at Yahoo in Spain during my second year at Bocconi’s double master’s program. I decided to take the second semester of the second year as a non-attending student and pursue this other internship opportunity. Then, that job internship turned into a job offer in London. I moved to London with a full-time job without having graduated from Bocconi. Then, through Yahoo I was able to move to Silicone Valley a couple of years ago, where I had a few jobs and then I became Senior Director at Verizon.
Overview of your job?
My role is Product Manager, which is managing software products. I decide what has to be build next, why, what is the business value of additional software capabilities. I work with our sales and business partners to understand the visibility of value and opportunities. There is a management component which is where strategy and the ability to analyze data and be very analytical and data driven come in handy.
Difficult part of your job?
From a pure product manager perspective, I would say it is truly understanding your customer needs. It is one of the most interesting and rewarding things for a product manager, but it takes a lot of time and energy because people don’t tend to tell you what their problem is, instead they tell you the solution they want. You have to reverse engineer the feedback from customers and find the real problem starting from the solutions they are suggesting you. Now that I am in a management role, there are a lot of challenges around the organizational complexities of a large company.
Hard skills and soft skills someone in your field must have?
For hard skills I would say the ability to really do the best with what you have and make informed decisions is crucial. In a world where there is no perfect data set, the hardest thing is to figure out what I can use to prove my thesis with what is available. Additionally, the ability to think strategically and understand customers, suppliers and competitors has been very useful.
On the soft side, since my role is global, the ability to understand and appreciate people from different backgrounds and cultures that have different communication styles is crucial, and this is something I learned from all of my experiences abroad that Bocconi provided me with.
Advice to your younger Bocconi student self?
When I moved to Milan, I would go back home every two weeks. It took me too long to embrace my life in Milan and build new friendships and feel Milan as my city.
On the other hand, when looking for internships, find relevant ones. Don’t choose one at a top company just to put a big name in your resume. Once you start building your resume with relevant internships towards what you want to work in the future, companies start to notice more on you instead of your grades. That’s how I got the internship at Yahoo, because the company I interned at in Shanghai used Yahoo’s technology. Internships are a way for you to discover your passion and what you see yourself doing for a living.
Books to read?
- “Zero to one” by Peter Thiel: it’s about start-ups and entrepreneurship, and it was written by the starter and CEO of PayPal.
- “The little prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: it’s a book that every time I have re-read it at any age, it told me something different.
- “Seagull” by Jonathan Livingston: there are some interesting concepts about ambition and being an individualist all as a story.