Corrado Ghinamo: Reinventing the Glass Processing Industry with Continuous Innovation and Effective Strategies
by Analytics Insight
April 20, 2022
Bottero S.p.A. is a global leader in glass processing technologies. The company’s headquarters is in Cuneo, Italy. A number of subsidiaries, located both in Italy and around the world, complete the group. Founded almost 65 years ago, Bottero has constantly grown over the years. The company designs produce, sells, and installs high technology, fully automatic machines for the glass industry with the aim to provide the customers with the highest standards in innovation, efficiency, and environmental care. It is the only company on the planet that operates both in the flat glass and the hollow glass markets. Its flat glass machines and systems can handle, cut, and process different types of glass sheets, from ultra-thin photovoltaic applications to very thick, coated, multi-layer sheets of glass for the most demanding applications in conducting construction operations. The hollow glass division’s machines are designed to produce glass containers such as bottles of several forms and dimensions from very hot, melted glass. Its machines typically run 24/7. The customers of the company are all around the world and vary from small artisan enterprises that buy all-duty single machines or small lines up to large multinational companies in the field of glass that need hollow glass lines or flat glass processing lines composed of several machines. The high technology needs demanded by the customers are met with great efforts by the technical offices in which many software developers work together with electrical and mechanical designers and engineers.
An Ardent Leader Armed with Great Experience
Corrado Ghinamo is the CIO of Bottero S.p.A. After receiving his diploma at the Scientific High School, Corrado attended the Polytechnic University of Turin, Italy’s oldest technical university. There he received a master’s degree in Electronic Engineering with specialization in robotics and physics. He was awarded the ‘Club Optime’ prize for having finished his university studies in due time and with the maximum score. Even though Corrado is the CIO of Bottero, his duties extend to the overall organization as he shoulders the responsibilities for the overall development of the company’s operating processes. He also mentions that he oversees the technical developments in the automation and supervision software of Bottero’s two main divisions such as hollow glass and flat glass with the aim to create team synergy between them.
Corrado recounts that he began working in a foreign subsidiary of Bottero after completing his degree, which was located near Düsseldorf, Germany. He admits that it was a very teaching and challenging experience for him. Since the German company was small in respect to the market dimension and everyone had to offer his/her contributions to the different activities that in a bigger company are usually done by several specialized people, he faced many adversaries. Corrado further confesses that at the beginning, he did not understand a single word of the local language and after the working hours, he felt quite alone. However, in the later period, he learned German, made friends, and now he remembers it as one of the best years of his life. While talking about his career, Corrado states that he learned a lesson, “Never to give up or to despair”. He adds that he learned to be always positive minded and work hard. He is confident that better moments will come, both in life and at work.
While talking about his work experience, Corrado admits that it was a perfect way to understand how it is important to grasp the overall situation from a mechanical, electrical, electronic, and software point of view to effectively solve a customer’s technical problem or to create a better-suited product for a particular market. He was frank about how he literally got his hands dirty with real, sticky lubricating grease while helping a colleague with a mechanical problem for a very impatient customer. Corrado further reminisces that back in Italy in Bottero’s headquarters, he became responsible for the Electronics and Software of the R&D Department, within the hollow glass division. Years later, he was appointed as the leader of the whole flat glass electronics and software development domain. According to him, in both of those experiences, Corrado and his colleagues could develop better customer-oriented solutions, thanks to the direct experience in the field which offered him life lessons. Afterward, he was nominated as the CIO with additional responsibilities.
Breaking the Shackles with Diverse Knowledge
Corrado stresses that his initial times in Germany were a real challenge for him. He says that it was hard to change duties in Bottero’s headquarters every time with new and higher responsibilities. Having to acquire experiences or at least some knowledge in almost all aspects of the company made him feel under pressure. He states, “In changing my responsibilities, I had to always restart quite from scratch as every time I found myself in a team with highly educated, specialized people.”
Entwining Technical and Theoretical Skills: A Must for Successful CIOs
According to Corrado, both technical skills and theoretical preparations are important for a successful CIO. He thinks that a CIO is supposed to continue learning and being up to date with new technologies. He stresses the fact that humility is paramount. He believes that it does not matter how prepared the CIO is, there will always be more skillful people in some technical or management landscape. The CIO does not need to compete with them or impose his/her decisions on them only because he is the chief. Instead, a good leader should listen to them and learn from them. However, the final decision must be taken on his own as it is his responsibility. For the hiring process, Corrado advises the leaders to look for high-level curricula with great ability to work in a team. They must avoid mediocre and apparently more easily manageable people. He says that when problems get hard, the leaders should rely on well-prepared colleagues. Corrado further asserts, “Don’t you become indispensable in your position, if you aim towards something higher indispensable, or almost indispensable, people cannot be substituted easily, and you will not have a chance to grow in the company.” He thinks that another useful quality of a good CIO is the ability to listen and understand the needs of the colleagues and the needs of the customers. He also feels that a scientific attitude is also of great importance in every aspect of life and every job. Corrado explained that at school people study the “scientific method”, but then most people just forget it and do not apply it. According to him, the scientific method is the only way that can enable people to discern the truth in the natural world and should guide them in every decision and in every process of understanding. It makes it less easy to fall in love with an irrational idea and to realize too late that it is wrong.
Customer-Centric Approach at the Helm of Innovation
Corrado believes that for every evolution of an existing product as well as the development of a new solution, one should understand the real and practical needs of the utilizer. It may be a simple product or a very complex one. He highlights that in the case of Bottero, he demonstrated that from a simple upgrade of an existing subsystem to the complete rethinking of one of the most sophisticated autonomous electro-mechanical machines, the goal is the same, that is to serve its customers. He further confirms that as the company serves across the globe, it aims to pay great attention to the fact that mentality and needs may vary a lot between different countries and cultures. So, Corrado remarks that in dealing with the internal colleagues around the world who demand the best possible ERP or PLM systems, and in serving the final customers with the most advanced and easy to use machines, the companies should bear in mind that a technical solution that might be perfect for one country may not be well appreciated in another country.
Empowering Employees and Organization with High-End Technologies
Corrado utters that disruptive technology is very impactful. He feels that if a business is based on high technologies and it does not evolve accordingly, the company might resist for some time, but it will be doomed if no action is taken. According to Corrado, there is always a risk of being surpassed by a competitor or even by an unexpected newcomer. Meanwhile, he also assures that it is not easy to make a team of employees evolve and be able to effectively manage AI, IoT, big data, and cybersecurity. Some people may find it very interesting to move to AI, but others, perhaps unconsciously, would like to continue doing what they feel they are good at. He has guessed that usually, the first attitude comes from the younger people. He also presses over the fact that change management practices are essential.
Corrado confesses that in his area of job, it is not always possible to be a specialist in every new technology. But he aims to be prepared at least to a certain degree and be able to support the colleagues who are specialists in some area. Because he believes that good results come when a team is working together well, the attention to the psychological aspects is also paramount. He explains that sometimes, experienced technical people have poor communication skills, and their ideas which are perhaps of great ingenuity might be suffocated by others, less-prepared but more able in speaking. Corrado reveals that as a chief, it is his responsibility to help a shy but clever person be heard. In fact, good ideas should be supported by a scientific and rational attitude, by demonstration of validity, and not by a loud voice.
Spearheading Hollow and Flat Glass Markets Simultaneously
Corrado reports that Bottero is the only company in the world that acts both in the hollow and in the flat glass markets. All of the competitors are in one of the two sectors. So, the company is the only one that can rely on technical solutions developed in one field and apply them to the other field, of course with some adjustments. He further claims that in the past, Bottero was able to avoid big losses when the market was not performing well because one or the other sector will reap growth. He also reports that just a few months ago, the company decided to make a big jump in the technology of its controlling software, with solutions highly based on AI and data analysis as well as improving its IoT. In fact, a brand-new company was born for this purpose called “Glassform.ai”. Its founders are Bottero itself and Tiama, a world leader in inspection and quality control solutions for the glass industry. Finally, he added that the company is also improving its internal processes, with the aim to sustain its expansion on the market, which is of course a must. He says that he is impressed that such improvement is being sustained in its turn by new ERP, PLM, and other systems, thanks to the capable team in the ICT department.
Setting Up Future Goals
For the newcomer CIOs, Corrado advises that having a scientific or technical degree is important, even though one might find oneself applying only a handful of the many things he learned at school. But high school and university-based scientific topics are quite important also from a less obvious point of view. He further explained that no matter what and how much one has learned, he or she has to learn it in a proper way. He states, “A hard school can sculpt your personality and make you less prone to surrender when problems are accumulating and becoming hard.” He further suggests new leaders think scientifically. He believes that science and its method are paramount in life and at work.
As a concluding note, Corrado says, “Listen to your colleagues, then make your decision. With humility, you will notice that people around you might be smarter and better-prepared than you in some fields. Then make a team with them, and avoid your position and ego to make your final decision go towards a worse solution.”