March 26, 2021

Alda De Rose: "The willingness to take responsibility for one’s own life is the source of self-respect"

Alda De Rose, Business Consultant and Advisor Media and Digital, Angel Investor, Co-founder of Foolfarm, Start-up Studio on AI, a long and thorough experience in all aspects of Media business. In more than 25 years in this industry, he has successfully managed diverse and growing responsibilities. In this interview she tells us about her choice to join IAG, the link between corporate innovation and the world of Start-ups and gives some advice to young women to develop their leadership skills and overcome self-imposed limits, even in promoting themselves.

Can you tell us more about your background?

I have a fairly complex background: law Degree, Master’s in mass communication and Bocconi MBA. I have worked for more than 25 years in the Media industry which fascinates me as an observatory but also as a mirror of the evolution of society, and when with the advent of digital, the sector entered into crisis, one of the first sector overwhelmed by its disruptive force, I decided to sabbatical and flew to New York for a master’s in digital media at NYU.

An exciting experience. Go back to "studying", with “learning by doing” approach, typical of executive courses, after years of intense fieldwork, and do it in the driving force of innovation where you had the opportunity to see and analyse what it would have become reality only 5 or even 10 years later, it was an extraordinary training ground, especially for those like me who have always been passionate about innovation.

And once I went back to "studying" I never stopped... in fact, when I returned to Italy, while starting to work again, I continued to enrich my knowledge, especially in new fields, taking advantage of the extraordinary opportunities provided by e-Learning: now I am following a very interesting course on Machine Learning from MIT.

Well, a sabbatical is an atypical choice for a person who is no longer young and already established in the world of work...

And in fact, many told me I was crazy... but I believe that what you do not know is often more important than what you already know.

However, it is true: here in Italy for our managerial culture the sabbatical is considered a rather atypical choice, indeed I would say it is almost not contemplated while in other countries where it is not only appreciated but is often also encouraged by the companies themselves.

Yet I strongly believe in continuing education and it is no coincidence that I use the term education (letting out) which I prefer over the term training (shaping, giving shape to people) and I am convinced that especially today, with the rapid evolution of technologies, with the discontinuity and complexity that have become structural elements of markets and business, lifelong learning is indispensable for everyone.

And if the goal is innovation, as Proust said "The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" which is precisely what continuous education helps you to have.

Why did you choose to join IAG?

For several reasons.

First, I find that IAG represents an interesting observatory on innovation, a privileged point of view on how this is moving today in our country and beyond.

Then the network, networking and meeting people with backgrounds and skills /experiences in the most diverse sectors - and this too is somehow part of the concept of continuing education - especially during screening meetings, allows for a more aware and informed shared risk management.

Finally, the give back and trying to contribute to making our country more modern and closer to other European realities that are decidedly more advanced in favouring entrepreneurship, innovation and the creation of an ecosystem that not only favours them but stimulates and encourages them.

What do you appreciate most about the services offered by the IAG associative life?

The formalization of a real process that has been enriched and refined over time and which, without detracting from the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity, allows a more accurate and careful selection of start-ups. A punctual planning of activities and of the screening and evaluation phases that over time has managed to involve an increasing number of members.

Recently, your professional life has focused on start-ups’ world... However, coming from a world like that of the media - a paradigm of large and complex realities that in the last twenty years have been subjected to enormous challenges related to innovation and change - do you believe that there are forms and opportunities for convergence between these two ways of experiencing innovation?

I believe that forms of osmosis, if not real integration, between Start-up’s world and that of Business Innovation, are essential to implement a "change of gear" in the innovation process of the Italian system.

It is less clear who should take care of it, but I have the impression that other countries, even on this side of the Atlantic, are more advanced compared to us.

Of course, opportunities also open up in this new challenge: as far as I'm concerned, I have been part, as co-founder, of a Start-up Studio, Foolfarm, focused on technologies based on Artificial Intelligence, whose goal is precisely create organic relationships with large and medium-sized enterprises, through a Start-up-as-a-Service offering as well a funding model which entails every new Start-up being backed by a Corporation, in order to anticipate validation and marketing. An initiative which certainly contributes to consolidating the Italian ecosystem of venture capital and that supports the activities of approaching start-ups and open innovation already promoted by various players including IAG itself.

I feel I can say that there is a general tendency to identify new ways of synergy and cooperation between the two "paradigms" and I hope that an "institutional" side aimed at supporting and channelling these energies will be realized as soon as possible, so that this convergence is transformed in a virtuous circle for the change and modernization of the country.

What advice would you give a young woman to develop her leadership skills and overcome self-imposed limits even in promoting herself?

I borrow what our Prime Minister recommended to young university students: knowledge, courage and humility and I would add self-respect.

I have already said about knowledge: never stop learning.

As for courage - as claimed by what is now considered one of the greatest American Writer of our time, Joan Didion - self-respecting women sometimes show a certain toughness, exhibit courage and what was once called character, a quality that although appreciated in the abstract, sometimes loses ground compared to other more negotiable virtues. And yet - character, the willingness to take responsibility for one's own life, courage, is the source from which self-respect springs. As for humility, perhaps in the case of women I would recommend not to exceed too much in this quality, by nature we women tend to be much more so than men and this can often be a handicap. Lastly, an exhortation rather than advice: cultivate your talents and honour your ambitions!