uggs online ‘You can’t just go out and hire a great manager’
My feet were suffering;it was too hot. I had a pen knife in my pocket, so I cut some holes [in the soles]. A bit of ventilation made such a difference.
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When I returned to Italy, I looked around for shoes that could offer some proper ventilation, but I couldn’t find any. It was difficult, because I wanted something that was waterproof and breathable at the same time, but traditionally, any kind of perforation allows water in.
So I found a way, using a waterproof membrane that I discovered in the US, to create a perforated sole that could also be waterproof. I had brought new technology into the shoemaking business and I quickly got a patent. The idea is now protected in more than 100 countries worldwide.
At first, I didn’t think that I would start manufacturing footwear.
I planned on staying in the wine business. I approached a range of shoemakers in Italy, wider Europe and the US, but no one believed in the idea or wanted to take it on.
That rejection was tough, but it drove me to try to manufacture these shoes [myself].
I started off with a small leather company in Montebelluna, which is a small town not far from Venice. The business was made up of five young people, each with their own role: making, manufacturing and so on.
That swiftly became 40. Today, Geox creates work for 30,000 employees, directly and indirectly. It’s a global brand,
stores worldwide, and it’s Italy’s largest shoe company.
What’s the company’s approach to hiring talent?
Finding the best management people [is really tough]; you can’t just go out and hire a great manager, so as a company, we train our own.
Once or twice a year, we organise courses. We recruit attendees online from all over the world and after the course, we often recruit from these cohorts.
The things that I look for from the people at the centre are a flexibility in their approach, passion for the role and our vision and a willingness to get involved in any task, no matter how big or small. They also shouldn’t be afraid to challenge the norm, looking at new ways of doing things.
How can you spot a bad manager?
From personal experience, those who are only interested in their own career progression and not the business as a whole haven’t stood the test of time. If they’re not committed to the overall brand vision or able to respond to change as a business evolves, then it raises flags about their ability to be an inspiring and effective manager.
What would you change about business in Italy?
We should all be studying it at university. In Italy, there’s no shortage of creativity or invention, but there isn’t a business mindset.
No one, for example, patented the espresso [drink], which was a big mistake. Italy is famous for so many things: its coffee and ice cream and so on. American corporations, however, saw the business potential in Italian cafe culture and are reaping the rewards.
What’s the biggest and most significant trend in retail right now?
Smaller stores are having a revival. Consumers want more curated product selections,
as well as convenience and accessibility.