“Don’t play to win, play to stay.”

About Alessandra

Role: Head of Pictet Wealth Management Italy
Based in: Italy
Joined Pictet: 2005

What is your Pictet story?

I joined Pictet in 2005 and opened the branch in Rome in 2006. Before that I worked for Citibank and for the Italian Stock Exchange. I was appointed Head of Pictet Wealth Management Rome in 2017 and later Head of Pictet Wealth Management Milan in 2019, where I currently work with a team of 20 people. I’ve also been a member of the Executive Committee in Italy since 2017.

In parallel, I was one of the founders of I Fuoriclasse della scuola, a project that grants scholarships to secondary school students who show particular dedication in one field of study. The idea was born when I noticed that only 8% of Italian students benefit from financial support, compared to 35% in France and 75% in the United States. In the last four years, we have managed to raise 500’000 EUR.

How did you adapt to the challenges that emerged with COVID-19?

Italy was the first country in Europe to confine its people at home at the beginning of March. As we wanted to prioritise the health and safety of colleagues, we quickly transitioned to working from home 100% from the Milan branch thanks to the incredible work of our Tech&Ops colleagues.

Almost immediately, we understood the importance of over-communicating, both internally and externally, to stimulate the ‘contamination of ideas’. Internally, we set up a daily call with the whole team in Italy that included not only bankers, but also customer relationship, compliance and back-office colleagues. It was not mandatory, but everyday 50 people joined to receive information and maintain social interactions.

As we could not organise events anymore, we launched a client webinar and invited Italian-speaking colleagues from Switzerland like Alexandre Tavazzi (Head of the CIO office) and Tazio Storni (Pictet Health Fund Manager) to join. We were quite surprised to see over 300 people join by the end of March, as we had never organised an event for so many people! We decided to reiterate the experience with other guests, including experts from McKinsey and a renowned economist, discussing the financial, economic and geopolitical impact of the pandemic.

How did it change your perspective of client interactions?

This crisis really boosted our digital transformation (meetings, contracts, IT systems). Many of our clients are now looking forward to our webinars, especially those who do not live close to our offices, as it was much more effective to join. In the future, we will try to combine physical and digital events.

What did you learn about yourself?

I used to travel a lot, at least 2 days per week on average, with trains, planes and taxis. I now realise that all this travels is not necessary. Rethinking how to invest all this time, money and energy can really increase the quality of work and life, as well as creativity. I hope this crisis will help us focus more on the essential.

A story you want to share about the last two months?

We conducted a joint fundraising initiative between Pictet Wealth Management and Pictet Asset Management Italy and quickly raised over 100’000 EUR, which we distributed to eight COVID-19 relief initiatives. In collaboration with the Pictet Group Foundation and our Tech&Ops colleagues, we supported hospitals and mask distribution to family doctors throughout Italy. This experience brought us closer to our colleagues from other business lines and really made us feel like one team.

What impact do you see for the working world and the investment industry?

Leaders need to evolve. I read an interesting article by Geneva-based coach Paolo Gallo, in which he refers to the four levels of energy required to manage high-performing teams. It highlights the importance for leaders to be sensitive to the physical (health and vitality), mental (clarity of mind), emotional (resilience), and spiritual (core values) energies of their team members. Focusing on these dimensions enables us to get a clearer picture and to prevent the emergence of burnout, work-life imbalances, peer competition and conflicts.

If I had to pick one sentence to summarise the future, it would be: ‘Don’t play to win, play to stay.’ It also fits quite well to the Pictet culture: focus on the long-term and do not play with short-term volatility. It also encompasses the well-being of people in your team and the well-being of your clients and business.

What do you look most forward to in the ‘new normal’?

I think we are on the right path as our business is reacting well. Numbers at PWM Italy are very good this year, which means there is no conflict between personal and business growth. I strongly believe both dimensions will be inextricably linked in the future, as well as key drivers of business sustainability.