Massimo Marchi attributes the trajectory of his career to the right decisions he made. Currently serving as the CIO, CISO, and General Manager of Shared IT Services North America at BERETTA HOLDING GROUP, with a turnover exceeding $1.4 billion, his journey began with a pivotal choice to transition from Logistics, Quality, and Operations to Technology. This move opened doors to managerial roles in renowned automotive giants like Fiat/Piaggio Group and Daihatsu Motor Company, as well as in the Firearms and Sporting/Outdoor sector with the Beretta Group.
His second significant decision involved relocating from Europe to a Beretta manufacturing plant in the United States, unleashing a floodgate of growth opportunities within the company. The third decisive step was taking charge of establishing the North American IT Shared services for the Beretta Group.
We are excited to present to you the extraordinary career journey of Massimo Marchi. This feature provides valuable insights, not only on decision-making but also on leadership, making it an essential resource for aspiring executives.
Describe your career progression from the start to where you are and what were pivotal decisions, moves you made, circumstances, and other facts that facilitated your growth.
After High School, I completed a Full Degree in Computer Science at the Math and Science Dept of the University of Pisa, Italy, https://www.unipi.it/index.php/english, which is in years of study, roughly equivalent to a Master of Science Degree in the USA. I then attended the prestigious Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, also in Italy, https://www.santannapisa.it/en where I graduated with a Master in Innovation Management, MBA.
After moving to the USA, I enriched my scholastic background with an Executive Certificate program in the management of Technology and Operations at MIT/Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, MA. https://mitsloan.mit.edu
I then earned the following professional certifications:
- Certified Data Privacy System Engineer – ISACA
- Certified Cyber Risk – HarvardX
- Certified Information Security Manager – ISACA
- Certified Enterprise Architect – TOGAF
- Certified Scrum Master – SCRUM ALLIANCE
- Certified ITIL – ITIL
- Certified Project Management Professional – PMI
- Certified Supply Chain Professional – ASCM
- Certified Lean Six Sigma Sensei – VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY
In terms of professional experience, it might seem a bit unusual but, in my 30-year career, I have only worked for 3 companies on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, all international leaders in the manufacturing Industry: Fiat/Piaggio Group (automotive), Daihatsu Motor Company (automotive), and the Beretta Group (Firearms, Sporting/Outdoor).
After a few initial positions in Logistics, Quality, and Operations, I moved into Information Technology and rapidly achieved management positions in manufacturing facilities across Europe.
In 2003, I was offered an opportunity to move to a US-based Beretta manufacturing plant, an offer that I accepted forthwith, a decision that drastically changed both my life and my career. Since then, the Beretta Group experienced rapid development, via organic and M&A growth.
Today, I am the CIO/CISO, North America for Beretta Holding, a private group of +50 companies headquartered in Luxembourg, with 6,000 employees and turnover exceeding 1.4B$.
In this position, I run a dynamic group of highly skilled IT professionals providing technology services to all sister companies, from supporting users and processes to promoting new technologies using a SecDevOps and Run-Grow-Transform model.
Our products range from luxury, collector masterpiece firearms to modern, tactical weapons, from stylish apparel lines to night-vision technology. Our channels vary from e-commerce to government agencies, from stores to big-box retailers. Our internal processes span from the design of products up to the multi-channel distribution and after-sales service.
It is said that an entire life is defined by just a few moments. Likewise, a few decisions and events and a particular set of circumstances can define an entire career. In my case, the first defining moment was moving from Operations to Technology, more in line with my scholastic background. The second critical decision was to leave Europe and start my personal American adventure for Beretta. The third decision, and achievement, was the creation of the North American IT Shared services for the same renowned industrial group.
Concurrently with the long M&A phase, Beretta Holding headquarters launched a strategic program to progressively re-organize the numerous sister companies around critical aspects such as financial planning and global branding. Remarkably, one of the aspects to be standardized was also information technology (IT). If you think about it, IT is an interesting place to start the standardization and simplification of your business processes across multiple divisions and business units, because the by-product of IT is in fact: organization.
The central IT services that I run were challenged by the overwhelming objective of IT simplification and standardization across the Group in North America. We started standardizing the infrastructure, then we implemented the same Oracle ERP in each business unit, and then we progressively moved to supply chain and manufacturing systems, PLM, CRM, HRMS, etc.
The process was very complex and often painful, I believe that the key success factors were: “keep it simple and implement step-by-step”, “gain the trust of your business users’ community and create consensus from the bottom-up”. Shareholders’ and executives’ aegis was certainly of the essence.
In the last 5 years, after the definition, execution, and consolidation of a common Enterprise Architecture, we launched an even deeper Digital Transformation, embarking on a journey of progressive discovery and adoption of digital technologies that have modernized the very fabric of the organization and evolved the mindset of the employees.
While we certainly cannot compete with Big Tech and Fortune 50s, as we are limited by the size, Industry regulations, and business nature of our organization, today we are proud to say that we are actively working with state-of-the-art and cutting-edge technologies, such as RPA/Orchestration, Smart Manufacturing, CRM/Digital, and Artificial Intelligence (LLM models).
Beretta is the oldest gun manufacturer in the world and was founded in the 15th century. While the Beretta legacy has its roots in the European Renaissance, the company is projected into the future, modernizing in every functional area, and fully embracing the challenges of the Digital Age.
What are the key skills and qualifications that aspiring tech executives in the tech industry should focus on developing to enhance their career prospects?
IT skills and technical qualifications change with technological progress. More than a particular skill, I would like to observe that certain personal abilities and approaches are needed.
The pace of change in Technology has been progressively increasing in the last 3 decades with one disrupting technology after another. Keeping up with the change has always been challenging, but nowadays it feels almost overwhelming.
A critical ability for aspiring technologists is mental flexibility. On behalf of our organizations, we need to be quick in recognizing and adopting new tech trends and opportunities, as well as abandoning old paradigms. To do so, we must be ready to question the status quo, as well as our own skills, qualifications, and readiness to change. This requires some level of self-criticism and to be open-minded. Mostly, it requires the willingness to learn new abilities and skills. As we age, it is progressively tougher to question our background and mindset, that’s why the role of new generations is so critical. Be prepared to reinvent yourself, constantly!
On the other side of the spectrum, I also suggest that the old “critical thinking” approach, should not be forgotten. Too many times we have seen organizations jumping onto the next “new thing”, without necessary due diligence or research, and only because of the “coolness” and “hype” aspects of the technology.
We must resist unfounded enthusiasm to avoid profound disappointment. This is an area where the traditional concepts of TCO, ROI, and Business Value, as well as some gut instincts, are still very important. Gartner publishes an interesting chart, called The Hype Cycle, with phases ominously named ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations”, “Trough of Disillusionment” and “Plateau of Productivity” which reminds us that nowadays more and more technologies quickly reach the apex of expectancy, only to reveal themselves as inflated hype topics. To list a few examples: Crypto, Blockchains, NFT, Metaverse, and Web3, if not complete failures, have certainly not been so far up to the fanfare. A balanced approach is what’s needed.
Finally, I would also mention that due to the complexity and highly technical nature of technology, as well as the jargon and culture, most often tech leaders tend to create siloes and barriers with other business functions or professionals. Rather than technology skills and qualifications, I would advocate for more non-tech skills, such as management, operations, and business to break those barriers. Nothing like being an expert in, say, Supply Chain Management will help you build the perfect SCM IT tool. Only feeling the pain of growing an eCommerce business, or streamlining internal processes and operations, will allow you to promote or create technologies for those areas proficiently. General approaches such as Lean Six Sigma and Continuous Improvements are still very useful. Learn how your organization conducts their business, speak in non-tech terms with business managers, align your technology roadmap with their business strategy, and by all means, take down those walls!
What are some key milestones or achievements that tech executives should aim for at various stages of their career to demonstrate their growth and readiness for higher-level roles?
I believe that each career trajectory is different, and as tech professionals, we have experienced very different paths to achieve leadership positions. I am not sure I can offer a “simple recipe”, or a series of key milestones and structured steps. I feel that in life, being in the right place at the right time can still make a difference.
However, I would like to offer this perspective to younger generations and ambitious professionals. Be proactive, take initiatives, and some risks, and think out of the box. Too many times, I have seen a level of complacency with the status quo, a fear of change and risk, alignment with past paradigms, and a lack of initiative. Align technology with the strategic vision of the business. Don’t be in love with the technical aspects of technology just for the sake of its hype factor. Rather, make technology a tool to achieve business goals. Be a professional able to think in business or organizational terms.
Nobody will recognize that you are ready for a higher-level role just because of your seniority or because you “feel” ready. You have an excellent tool to demonstrate your readiness: successful projects and initiatives. Ask, or better, de facto take, more responsibility in larger areas of a tech project. Communication with peers, upper management, and other stakeholders is key. Speak in business terms with non-technical personnel. Be able to create consensus around a vision and strategy. Learn to sell yourself.
Do not try to do this on your own. Especially in large, complex organizations, there is very little chance for one person to make a difference. Be a team member, and then a team leader. Take care of your team, fight for them. Everything else will come naturally.
How important is it for tech executives to actively seek out mentorship or coaching opportunities to advance their careers? What benefits can they derive from such relationships?
Even an Ivy League education can only teach you the theory and only practical, “hands-on” experience can shape you as a leader and coach you in how to excel in your job. Don’t look too far. The best teachers are usually your peers, team members, and managers. Nothing like a great manager can inspire you to join the job market as the next generation of leaders. In my experience, internships are excellent ways for a young professional to enter the job market and benefit both the intern and the organization.
Nothing like coaching and mentorship programs that can teach you the tricks of the trade, and since you are there, refuse any kind of remote working! Be there in person, most of the time. Human communication uses many channels, in-person interaction develops emotional intelligence. Spending a working day side-by-side with more experienced professionals will teach you ten times more than hours of politically correct and sterilized Zoom meetings. Be there with them at the coffee break. Rumor has it that direct and unfiltered truths are only said in spontaneous conversations in front of the coffee machine!
In your experience, what role does professional networking play in the career progression of tech executives? How can tech executives effectively build and leverage their networks?
A career in technology is not different than any other career: professional networking is fundamental. In my experience, social networks such as Linkedin and the likes, are an effective way to keep in touch with peers in the industry, especially as members of specific interest groups. Professional associations such as ISACA and PMI are very active and organize frequent online and in-person events to facilitate networking. Alumni associations are always a great way to maintain relations. Finally, I would suggest attending technology conferences. Attending various educational sessions, panel discussions, keynotes, and case studies is an excellent way to learn from others’ experiences and to meet brilliant professionals.
Are there any specific certifications, advanced degrees, or executive education programs that can significantly enhance the career prospects of tech executives in the tech industry? Which ones would you recommend?
Regardless of your area of expertise, I could not recommend enough training and certifications on cybersecurity. The responsibility for security is not relegated to the cybersecurity staff, in fact, cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. SecDevOps is an organizational model that is spreading quickly.
Moreover, education in cybersecurity develops a holistic view of systems, networks, data, and technology. A systemic vision that can greatly help developers, engineers, operators, and business professionals alike.
Too many times, software developers work in silos, under the pressure of tight deadlines with no relation to Operations and a very shallow awareness of cybersecurity risks. Security by Design means that security should be embedded in each activity, task, and process that involves technology, since the very beginning.
The World Economic Forum has indicated cyber threats as one of the major business and organizational risks for years. We read about new successful breaches every week. It’s becoming a constant fear, it’s time for organizations of all sizes to step up and do much more in cybersecurity. It’s time to educate everyone about such exposure, not only employees, but citizens, and students in every school and grade!
Master programs are generally excellent ways to get advanced education. Executive and technical certifications are also excellent methods.
Personally, I found the MIT/Sloan, HarvardX, ISACA, and PMI programs to be excellent experiences. These technical and professional certifications are the perfect bridge between high-level academic teachings and the reality of the job market.
Finally, I would consider less structured channels. There’s so much free training out there, without spending a fortune. Besides, with a technology landscape that changes so rapidly, no traditional education program can ever be enough for you. Despite all the education and training, I and my staff, very often, find ourselves seeking detailed info from YouTube videos!
How important is it for tech executives to cultivate a personal brand and establish thought leadership within the industry? What are some effective ways for tech executives to showcase their expertise and gain visibility?
Cultivating a personal brand and establishing thought leadership within the tech industry can be highly important for tech executives. It benefits your organization and your career. The image of yourself and your organization is extremely important and can help in many areas, including but not limited to career advancement, company reputation, networking, and recruitment.
An excellent public image of your company helps you in your job, so your company benefits from leaders who are highly recognized in their areas of expertise.
Effective Ways to Showcase Expertise and Gain Visibility are:
- Content Creation. Regularly produce high-quality content that showcases your expertise. This could include blog posts, articles, podcasts, videos, or webinars. Share these on platforms like LinkedIn, Medium, or industry-specific forums.
- Speaking Engagements. Speak at conferences, webinars, and industry events. Public speaking not only highlights your knowledge but also allows you to connect with a broader audience.
- Attend industry conferences and events to network with peers, potential collaborators, and media. Building relationships is a key part of establishing thought leadership.
- Social Media Presence. Maintain an active and engaging presence on social media platforms relevant to your industry. Share insights, engage in conversations, and showcase your expertise.
- Publish a Book. Writing a book on a topic related to your expertise can be a powerful way to establish thought leadership. It provides in-depth insights and can be a long-lasting asset.
- Partner with other industry leaders on projects, research, or joint ventures. Collaboration can expand your reach and lend credibility to your expertise.
- Online Courses and Workshops. Offer online courses, workshops, or training sessions in your area of expertise. This not only demonstrates your knowledge but also generates revenue.
- Media Appearances. Accept opportunities for interviews, guest blog posts, and podcast appearances. These can help you reach a broader audience and establish authority.
- Community Involvement. Get involved in industry-related organizations or forums. Actively participating in discussions and initiatives can boost your profile.
- Continuous Learning: Stay up to date with the latest industry trends and developments. Thought leaders are expected to be at the forefront of their field.
- Be authentic in your communications and interactions. People are drawn to leaders who are genuine and approachable.
Remember that building a personal brand and establishing thought leadership takes time and consistent effort. It’s not just about self-promotion; it’s about providing value, insights, and solutions to your industry and community. Over time, your reputation as a tech executive with expertise and vision will grow, benefiting both your career and your organization.
I must recognize that moving from one complex project to another and expanding the scope of my responsibilities every year, I have neglected many of these aspects. Moreover, sometimes the effort of showing your work out there to the public can be limited by the nature of the business, confidentiality, and sensitivity of certain information, as well as compliance constraints. I trust that collaborating with publications like this one will help me close the gap.
Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring tech executives who are looking to accelerate their career progression and make a lasting impact in the tech industry?
Do not spend too much time planning your career progression. Again, this industry is changing so quickly that whatever steps you are thinking of now will be inadequate in 10 years. Your own current job might disappear. Artificial Intelligence might replace most software developers, very soon. Rather, keep investing in yourself. While some roles and positions will sunset, many others will appear. Positions such as AI Prompt Engineer, Chief Automation Officer, Digital Reputation Defender, or LLM specialist, were unheard of just 2 years ago.
Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and other technological trends will need, by their nature, more than engineers. Skills such as psychology, linguistics, and behavioral science will be required. Kinesiologists, biomechanical and anatomical experts will be necessary for robotics. Professions will not have the same rigid barriers as in the past, it is said that nowadays the market needs attorneys who are experts in technology or cybersecurity, as well as engineers with a deep knowledge of finance and the economy.
Work hard and be goal oriented. Be ready for the change and re-invent yourself. Target a niche with less competition and great growth potential. Achieve results, and the career will follow.
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