I’ve spent the past two years travelling across Europe and the Middle East, talking to hundreds of people – clients, colleagues, competitors, media owners, cab drivers, bartenders – and realised that Italy’s image is far better outside than inside the country.
This is probably because Italy remains a very popular destination for tourists, but also because of the hard work of our best ambassadors: Italian restaurants, food and wine producers, and fashion designers etc. I’ve met many Italians working abroad. Hard workers who love their home country but are fed up with all the hurdles created by the bureaucracy facing entrepreneurs in Italy.
As the prime minister, Matteo Renzi, puts it: "Italy remained attached to conservatism. It had a political class that lived in the past and didn’t build the future. The past is our strength, but it risks becoming our ruin if we walk with our heads turned backwards."
A country once renowned for being innovative and creative, Italy is now at the very bottom of all international rankings for R&D investments, high-speed internet connectivity, new patents… the list goes on.
For the first time in decades, we have a real chance to shake off the old conservatism and build our future
The media scenario hasn’t been too different from the political one: the biggest players in TV and print, in particular, have put all their energy into defending their positions instead of creating new opportunities.
But for the first time in decades, we have a real chance to shake off the old conservatism and restart building our future. A new generation is taking over the old political parties – as Renzi is doing with Partito Democratico – and with plans to stop using their political power as a veto-power, obsessed by being anti-something: anti-communist, anti-capitalist, anti-Berlusconi…
The energy and passion from these new leaders is all about the future and is contagious. It’s time to build, not to destroy any more. The new generation is younger than the traditional Italian political class and much more international in its thinking. It looks at what other countries have done to support entrepreneurship and to create a new welfare without preconception and old ideologies.
These new visions much more closely represent the country I want to live in, and I think will herald a great new age for business and media. It is more than just visions, however. These new political attitudes can drive growth and influence investment. The next five years will, I hope, see the Italian business and media landscapes once more leading the world.
Federico de Nardis is the chief executive, EMEA at Maxus