Lessons from Leaders – Campari Managing Director UK Part 2 – Pietro Mattioni

By Matt Dallisson, 23/09/2017

Part of our ‘Signium Speaks’ interview series where we reveal insights, and lessons learnt by successful Leaders…

Pietro Mattioni is Managing Director UK & Nordics for Gruppo Campari, the global top 10 spirits business with distribution across 190 markets of their 50 brands including Campari, Aperol, Gran Marnier, and Appleton Estate Rum.

On March 1st 2015 Pietro Mattioni was charged with establishing their first UK office, building a strategy and team that has since delivered 40% growth this year.

As the ‘smallest big company’ in the spirits business, Gruppo Campari is a challenger whose goal to blend its passion, hunger, and value focus to do more with less is clear. Industry breaking results, new acquisitions, and exciting innovation are all reasons why Gruppo Campari’s returns are sparkling…

View more of the interview with Pietro here

What’s the most important skill set for successful leaders to develop? What leadership characteristics do you look for when recruiting?

Well, to be a successful leader you need to be able to dream. You need to be able to envisage the future and then you need to be able to talk about that with your team and then sell them the story.  Bring them into your dream and make them part of it, so they all feel that your dream is actually also their dream and they move to make it reality.

Another important skill set for success is being flexible. Especially in today’s world which moves so fast. You need to be able to stop at any time and say I have to change direction, because the direction I was planning to go five minutes ago, now it’s the wrong one.

And another important characteristic that I apply especially in recruitment is that once I’m sure about the technical competencies of the person, I try to understand what is their motivation, what is the purpose that that person has.  Then, will that person have a personality that will be compatible with the company values? So will that person be able to integrate? Has that person drive?. You can be the best person in the world in terms of competencies; if you don’t have drive, you won’t make any difference.

I don’t have one, single question I always use when recruiting; I tailor my questions to the candidate I have in front of me. But I often tend to bring the candidate into a conversation that s/he is not expecting, to actually put the person outside their comfort zone and then based on the previous discussion and questions to ask my killer questions. In other words, to weaken the defence levels of the candidate and then ask two or three killer questions. Then for me, more than the answer, what I want to see is the survival capability of that person, because at that point, s/he is outside their comfort zone. So… and often in the business, you will find yourself in scenarios where your counter party is placing you or putting you outside your comfort zone – how do you react?

If you were to start from nothing with what you know now, what would you have sought more help with?

Well, definitely in our industry the one extremely important area would be marketing. I don’t rate – and probably some of my colleagues will be very upset with me – I don’t rate the spirits industry as always being at the forefront of the marketing development in terms of brand development. And therefore, it’s an opportunity for improvement.

Often I’ve hired marketeers coming from other industries that are more evolved than ours in terms of marketing skills, habits and practices to bring in competencies, different ways of thinking and to create some innovation in the way we treat our brands.

Which business achievement are you most proud of and why?

There are two achievements I’ve made that are really strongly engraved in my heart. The development of Campari Benelux, our first subsidiary in Belgium which was also my very first attempt as Managing Director. So it was a double task. A great experience in a great country where I met great people. And the company is still running extremely well, so this makes me extremely proud.

Also I am very proud of the development of Campari UK. In our industry (at least in continental Europe) the British market is the most complex and difficult one.  A market where Gruppo Campari has attempted several different strategies to increase its presence until the point where we decided to open our own subsidiary, and the business is doing extremely well. So it’s a strong sense of pride for me to see how things are developing.

View another interview with Victoria Young of Yes to here

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You might also enjoy another article which explores success insights I’ve published on Linkedin interviewing James Davidson, Co Founder of tails.com, which he started just 3 years ago with Graham Bosher, Founder of Graze, and LOVEFiLM.