A SHINING JEWEL IN DUBAI

From celebrity meet-and-greets to four days of luxury catwalk shows, the region’s biggest jewellery and gem exhibition has something for everyone.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
I would have to say my first boss – a gentleman based in Venice who I won a scholarship to work for in foreign trade after university in 1987.He had a great impact on me he encouraged me to travel around the world with him, which wasn’t common back then. It wasn’t fashionable to speak about globalization. I learnt all about the different behaviours of different cultures and their ways of doing business during a time these facts weren’t readily available. I was able to travel for many months, researching different economies. He taught me that discipline, vision and future representsthe three key words that you can build your career,and also your way of life, on. He also taught me that humility is one of the most important values you can possess. I was young at the time and he was a great inspiration to me.

What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
To date the most important decision myself and my team has made would be change – change is important to keep your company moving forward. In the case of VOD Dubai International Jewellery Show, we were disrupting a model by moving from a traditional way of doing exhibitions to a brand new organisation. We have merged a B2B show (VICENZAORO) with a B2C show (Dubai International Jewellery Show) when before, the two were kept completely separate in Dubai. And I’m not just talking aboutthe rules, but the strategy, the vision, the people, the mentality and the culture. Moving from tradition to innovation is something that can be very difficult, but if you have the right people around you, as I do,it can put you in one of the best positions in your industry by creating a new vision for yourself, your company and your business. Changing the rules and facing the competition in a different way is the strongest decision I have had to take to move the company forward and offer it the opportunity to compete fairly in the new global economy.

As an organisation gets larger there can be a tendency for the institution to dampen the inspiration – how do you stop this from happening?
Its not easy! Four or five years ago we changed the structure of our company to stop this from happening. We decided to use a model basedon hierarchy together with anetwork business model - the hierarchy incites clear rules and a clear position on management while the network system that supports it allows everyone to come together to find new ideas and ways of business. This also involved changing the layout of the offices – we dismantled the walls, installed glass and asked our people not to always rely on emails, but to speak to each other. We introduced a cross facilitation philosophy where people feel comfortable coming together, sharing ideas and offering different points of views. I feel they weren’t ready for it first, and it was difficult to put in place, but we quickly saw lots of new ideas come to light while key managers created new ways of doing business together. Now we are based on a more creative approach, are ready to face new solutions and are mentally ready to open our minds to new solutions. We had to change to maintain the level of vision we wanted to reach at that time.

How do you encourage creative thinking within your organisation?
I encourage people to break the rules. By that I don’t mean I don’t believe in discipline – I think this is very important in a company, organisation or family, and the rules must be very clear. Yet creativitycomes when someone switches from a manager to a leader. Managers take care of the organisation while leaders help plot the path to a successful future. The ideal organization I like to deal with is one with leaders, and luckily I do. It allows creativity to surface every day and allows the company to look to the future. Of course you have to follow rules and procedures otherwise we wouldn’t reach our targets, but having a novelty approach means you can change things for the better.

What is your favourite travel destination? I love travel - I started travelling when I was very young. I have been very lucky to visit many countries and meet a lot of different people.However my favourite travel destination has to be the next one – the one I haven’t had a chance to visit yet. For me now that will be Thailand – I’ve only visited previously for a few hours during a connection, so I’m excited to visit properly and interact with this very gentle humanity.