ITL Group Ltd. was established in 1995, its founder, Alessandro Farina moved to Hungary three years before. Now, he tells Diplomacy&Trade about how his career began here and how he built up a group of companies following the tradition of entrepreneurship that goes back to generations in his family in Italy. He is convinced that doing business should go hand in hand with serving society.
“When I arrived in Hungary, there was no strategy, no project. It was a typical by chance opportunity to make a stage abroad. I grabbed an opportunity to come to work for an English consulting company. It doesn't exist anymore but, at that time, it was my opening door to working abroad and starting, let's say, my very first real employment. It opened up my eyes and I saw the dynamics of business. One of the things that I mostly enjoyed was that consulting companies are in touch with decision makers most of the time. For a young 25-year-old guy, it was an absolutely invaluable experience to be in touch with the decision makers, a lot of wise and successful people. In a consulting business, you wake up in the morning, your first client is maybe in agriculture, the second in trading, the third one in real estate, etc. This whole mix of opportunities during the past three decades, provided a wide vision and so many challenging experiences that absolutely fill up my day with love of what I do,” Alessandro Farina highlights.
Building a group of businesses
ITL Ltd. was established in December 1995. After initial startup difficulties lasting about a year, the company started to take on the first well-known clients in 1997. “At that time, we were just working with Italian clients. I still keep the philosophy of the one-stop shop of the multidisciplinary services. But of course, back in those times, I only had one employee. So technically, I was a broker of services. I was listening to the needs of the client, I got a decent understanding of business needs. Then, I went on the market to buy the services needed by clients who knew that it was an intermediated service but they needed a trusted person with contacts living here. Then, as the business grew, we started to bring in-house those services, like bookkeeping, for example. That is how I have nine business divisions and over 75 professionals within the ITL Group, which is – according to some of the business journals in the Budapest – among the top ten consulting companies in the Hungarian capital,” he adds.
Alessandro Farina believes that as a consulting company, they have a peculiarity: a genuine positive enthusiasm about being also at the service of society. “In 2010, we started to develop the first database of all Italian investments to Hungary from scratch. Since then, it has been used as the official source by the Hungarian and Italian governments. Then, in 2014, we published a great book ‘Ungheria 2014’, an investment guide. Its format was so successful that the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA) asked us to release the rights to them. We did that together with the graphic design. I was proud and happy that we could inspire, let's say, even the government to go in this different, user-friendly direction.”
Another project by Alessandro Farina to serve the business community and society was the
Budapest Business Party. “As the 2008 world economic crisis hit, I felt the negative trends were killing my instinct, my productivity, I needed positive enthusiasm and energy. That is when we created the Budapest Business Party, which was intended to be a kind of smart, dynamic, challenging networking way of having fun: basically, first fun and then let's make business. The first year, in 2012, the event attracted about 400 guests and it was held annually until 2019, with over 1.500 attendees in the last editions, after which the pandemic hit the world. First, it looked like the world was collapsing, bringing down business with it. However, we learned the lesson very well and managed to cope with the situation. Actually, in business terms, we grew more during pandemic than in the best periods of the good economy,” he says.
Yet another initiative based on his idea of ‘Let’s make the world a better place’ was the “Fear is the mind-killer,“ an online communication project that collects positive stories. It is a collection of testimonies of entrepreneurs who were able to overcome or manage economic difficulties during the pandemic. Leaders who always focus on their human resources realize that during hard times, the company must also be a refuge, hope, and guide for its employees and collaborators in certain moments. “Once again, it was a micro contribution because it was not earth-shaking but it was our small contribution to say, let's do something for the society,” the entrepreneur notes.
In yet another initiative, “we set three core values that we want to recognize – ethics, sustainability and creativity – and searched for people who use these three pillars in their daily life and create a positive impact in the business society, a kind of a guideline and a good example for employees, for business partners, for generations to come. So, in 2019, we created – with Italian artist Marco Veronese –, an impressive statue of Atlas holding the world on his shoulders,” Alessandro Farina explains the birth of the Atlas Award.
“People say the world is done by storytelling, if you build the right story and you fascinate, let's say the community, the society, and you create the feeling of why you're doing that, you will find followers. And if you find positive followers, you create an umbrella where they can recognize themselves. A lot of good people under the same umbrella will make a better impact, of course, because there is more energy to spread,” he adds.
The first winner of the prize was Gabriella Ruff, the Managing Partner of Karrier Hungária of whom Alessandro Farina says “we had several people nominated but she was absolutely on top of the list.” The pandemic did away with the 2020 and 2021 award and the organizers hoped to find the 2022 winner in time for the summer Budapest Business Party. However, this time, it was the Russian attack on Ukraine that forced them to change plans “but we already planned this year’s award ceremony to be held on October 6. The nominations are open, so, I urge the readers to join this process,” he adds.
“A couple of months ago, we went online with Atlas World, which is in a way the final, the collection point of all these initiatives that we have done since 2008. We wish to make it clear: ITL Group is the business part and Atlas World is the non-business part. The latter is the container for good initiatives and good causes. So, whenever we have something nice to give to the community, to support something or give visibility to other people's ideas, we build that within the Atlas World,” he highlights, adding that it is a world where people casually meet and discuss whatever they are interested in – without obligations like in the coffee house culture of Europe in the first decades of the 20th century. “This allows us to be in touch not only with business but also with society. In fact, I have always been in touch with a lot of people because having so many wide angles means that you are in touch with hundreds or thousands of people: more people mean more ideas and you get different kinds of feedback also. Following the pandemic, this is also the year in which we are going to start to communicate again and to push the Atlas World wider,” Alessandro Farina concludes.
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