An engineer by training, Michele’s background differs from that of the typical consultant. “I started out as an electronics engineer, passionate about radio waves and transistors. But then I successively developed a passion for finance and banking, which brought me to consulting,” says Michele. “This complex path gave me a late start in consulting, but it was overall an enriching journey. There are easier paths, but more complex paths make you stronger.”
Now a Partner in the Financial Services practice in Milan, Michele came to Oliver Wyman after a stint at another consultancy and an entrepreneurial venture in systems integration for trading and capital markets.
To be a change agent, you must respect the culture, rather than simply disrupt it. Respect is the key word, it’s what gives you credibility
Michele quickly aligned to all topics related to crisis management and crisis prevention. “Central banks had not yet started regulating crisis situations. It was a greenfield, and nobody was looking at this area in Europe yet,” says Michele. “When the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive was implemented in Italy in 2014, I already had a few years of experience in the sector and therefore had the opportunity to work for extraordinarily interesting projects.”
For Michele, the relationship with the client is key. “The main elements in this relationship are trust, and the ability to understand all aspects of the client’s culture, to empathize with it, to grasp its positive and negative sides,” says Michele. “We roll up our sleeves to work with the clients to help them, without putting ourselves on a pedestal.”
His advice to young colleagues is straightforward: “Follow your ambition. Look for an environment where you are not necessarily the number 1, a place where you are surrounded by people who can teach, challenge, and inspire you. Because that, in the end, is what makes you get up in the morning and feel like you want to go to work.”