Federico de Nardis recently took over the role of CEO of GroupM Sub-Saharan Africa, overseeing operations and development for 24 countries across Africa. De Nardis spent seven years at Maxus, which has now been incorporated into Wavemaker, where he was named chairman and CEO, Maxus Italy in 2010, and was promoted to CEO of Maxus EMEA in 2012. He also has history with GroupM, having worked for their dedicated venture with Fiat, named MC2, for four years.
I am 56 years old and so far in my career… I’ve always followed my instinct more than a preconceived plan.
What excites you most about your new position in South Africa? There’s a lot to learn: new people to work with, and an exciting challenge lies ahead. I do believe that I have a lot to contribute, based on my experience in different markets in the media and the marketing industry.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned? You can be smart, but without a strong team, you aren’t going to get anywhere. Team spirit and collaboration allow you to achieve more than you can ever imagine.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? I can name two actually: proofreading every night for an IT publisher while I was studying at university, and picking hazelnuts on a steep bank for a farm. While the first gave me a real ability to spot a typo immediately, I still have to find out what the second job taught me.
The quality you most respect people for is… Tolerance.
Your pet hate is… Lack of self-awareness. The kind of people who shift blame and aren’t aware of how their actions influence you.
What scares you most? A lack of enthusiasm, and a lack of passion. Life is too short however you look at it, and it’s just thoughtless to throw it away.
Your best qualities are… Openness, curiosity, resilience, connecting people and connecting ideas, and seeing how 2+2 can make 5…
Your worst qualities are… Maths… apparently, I am not very good at it! As well as impatience.
Your personal motto is… ‘Always make new mistakes!’ Not my quote but I love it.
A perfect day would be… Sailing along the coast of eastern South Africa with my family. Although, I have to say that I am more used to the Mediterranean Sea.
If you could have dinner with someone living or dead it would be… Well, three people come to mind. First would be Sir Ernest Shackleton. Long story short, on an expedition to the Antarctic their boat, the Endurance, became trapped in ice. This forced Shackleton and his men to vacate the ship and set up camp on the floating ice. Later they had to navigate around 700 miles in a tiny rowing boat, and all of the expeditioners survived. Such little chance of survival, as well as the resilience and the ability to keep going through it all, is absolutely inspiring. And to find out how he inspired a bunch of very different people to keep their eyes on one goal – survival. Then also Sir Francis Chichester who is one of the most excellent sailors of the last century; and the third person would be Marilyn Monroe, I don’t think any explanation is needed here.
The gadget/s you can’t live without and why? My Sonos speaker, I can’t live without my music.
Your addiction is… Sparkling white wine: from Champagne to Spumante Metodo Classico, from Cava to Methode Cap Classique.
Your death row meal would be… A fresh mozzarella, spaghetti alla puttanesca and a good glass of wine. Perhaps better, a bottle if it’s death row.
2018 will be… An incredible adventure. From navigating the new role and space that I find myself in, and immersing myself in new experiences.
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