Gennaro Zecca, CEO at Zecca Energia
There is a moment in adolescence when you start asking yourself what you want to do with your life.
When you are 15, the first answers you get for yourself are usually answers to the following question: ”What do other people expect me to do with my life?” What people expected from me it was evident to everyone.
First born, only male; son, grandson and great grandson of entrepreneurs, I was called to follow my family tradition in the family business that since 1905, also thanks to a natural monopoly had been resisting on the market: active in the electric power distribution and with a past in the production.
My father had never asked me explicitly if I wanted to join the company. However the question was implicit in the Sundays’ silences at lunch. I heard it in my head, shouted and insisting until, finding myself close to my university choice, the question could not be eluded anymore: ” Do you want to study to become an entrepreneur and a manager?”
It will be that, personality-wise, I have never liked cliché answers; it will be that when I was twenty I was attracted by the study of the sea in its physical aspects; it will be that I want to be a researcher, I decided to enrol at the Istituto Universitario Navale and to study to be an oceanographer.
During my studies I understood that what attracted me to the sea were above all its depths and the poetry of the physical laws that tried, without success, to describe its motion and its unpredictable and perpetual change.
Little by little I understood that the possibility to explore, describe, pursue or trigger a change, combined with the fascination for tracing new directions without following already tracked routes, was my true driving force in my life.
I soon understood that, ironically, my family company, over more than 100 years anchored in the traditional business of electric power distribution, might have been an amazing opportunity to put my desire to change things into practice, giving birth to new processes.
I joined the company and I discovered the beauty of doing business in order to make the people I worked with richer, freer and happier. When I joined the company, we used to manage the electric power distribution in the municipality of Ortona. I was caught by the spirit of public administration and the sense of responsibility that permeated the way of working of workers, employees, managers and directors. Our clients were not regular clients to deal with, but users, actually, people with whom constantly establishing relationships.
I wanted to change. I didn’t like to manage what we had. I wanted to leave the safe heaven of a natural monopoly, for the fascination for the open sea of the markets challenge.
My father let me do it. We started producing electric power again, both from renewable and traditional sources. I directly took care of enhancing the production activity, passing from 5Mw to 105 Mw, engaging listed companies.
We purchased other electrical grids from ENEL. We established other companies and business lines active in the sectors of energy efficiency, operation and maintenance services of industrial plants and power plants, the management of other utilities of network services and gas sale. We have recently started a new business in Morocco.
Today the question that upsets me the most is, how to make this desire of pursuing and anticipating the change, not only a peculiarity of the entrepreneur, but of the company itself.
My pragmatic and daily dream is to “managerize” my family business, without renouncing the fascination for the open sea.