Sharpshooting Luca Scribani-Rossi

Luca Scribani-Rossi is a man of many accomplishments, and, some might say, identities: a proud Italo-Australian, Olympic champion, and captain of business. We meet Luca, the outgoing president of the ICCI Melbourne.

Luca, can you please tell us a little about Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's core mission, and what kinds of services it extends to its members?

The Chamber's core mission of the ICCI is bilateral trade between Italy and Australia. Some of the services offered to members include supporting small to medium enterprises with internationalization; providing assistance in setting up business in Australia; scouting trade partners; providing information about business opportunities, accounting and legal services, and local expertise on setting up a warehouse or a distribution center. We also assist trade services.

What is the role of the president on a day-to-day basis?

I provide guidance to the CEO and engage with the board. I assist in guiding the organization in developing networking events, identifying keynote speakers, or liaising with the Italian Consul General as appropriate. 

Interestingly, Melbourne and Milan have a sister-city relationship, and for the last 3 years, we have been working on a strategic partnership between Lombardy and Victoria. Stay tuned!

The pandemic has had a daunting impact on global trade. To what extent has the pandemic affected ICCI's work? 

There has been a great impact, which has almost totally curtailed our ability to run in-person networking events. In 2020, we lost members, particularly in hospitality. But it gave us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. For example, we ran online events such as masterclasses in making pizza, arancini, and risotto. We also had a mentoring program for small to medium enterprises, and these represented sectors such as defense, aerospace, medical technology, and pharmaceuticals. I'm happy to report that we successfully mentored six companies. In 2021, ICCI posted the biggest profit in several years. 

Luca Scribani-Rossi

When most people think of trade between Italy and Australia, they think of luxury goods like cars, fashion. and food. How accurate is this perception?

"Made in Italy" is synonymous with quality, beauty, and ingenuity. I believe there is an opportunity for Italian organizations to promote things that are not as well-known but are equally impressive. Italy has strong aerospace and defense industries; also, it is advanced in medical technologies, waste management, and infrastructure. The companies We Build and Ghella are involved in Australian projects such as the Snowy Hydro 2.0. in New South Wales and the North-East link in Victoria. There's a company from Lombardy that recycles waste into energy, which is part of a strategic partnership in Australia. As context, about 95% of all waste in Lombardy is recycled or transformed into energy. For Australia, where 95% of our waste goes into landfill. Finally, Italy is a leader in agricultural machinery and storage solutions, one of which we will showcase at an upcoming trade presentation  - a new technology that keeps fruit, such as apples or a peaches, fresh for over a year.

In the current global situation, with the war in Ukraine and geopolitical power shifting in the Asia-Pacific region, what are some of the key opportunities and risks for global trade?

With the geopolitical landscape changing rapidly, there are risks and opportunities. Accurate forecasting and the ability to plan for different scenarios would be, in my opinion, key success factors in moving forward. I think that every business needs to become a lot more agile in reacting to sudden change. During COVID, many businesses suffered or shut down, while others transformed and even improved. 

What do businesses or organizations need to have in place to ready themselves for global trade?

Businesses need to avail themselves of all the skills they can afford  - financial, political, strategic, organizational  - businesses cannot survive today without these skills. Consultants are pivotal as it's not possible to have all requisite skills in one organization. Businesses cannot have the "she'll be right, mate" attitude. Governance structures need to be implemented and reviewed regularly. The right people for the job need to be employed. The chairperson needs to create an honest, transparent, and professional culture. Lead by example, rather than imposing a vision without consultation, teamwork is critical.

I was impressed to find out that you're an Olympic champion. Tell us a little about your personal journey from world-class athlete to global business leader.

I started shooting when I was 11. Los Angeles was my first Olympics, where I won bronze in skeet shooting. I competed in Barcelona and Seoul and came seventh both times. Then, I "did an Ash Barty"  - at age 32, I won the Italian national titles, and announced my retirement at the medal presentation. I had two children with another on the way. I had to choose between work, family, and sport. Well, not choose, but evaluate whether I could give 100% of my effort to all three. The answer was "no." So, I stopped competing and became a technical director for the Italian 1996 Olympics team.

Luca Scribani-Rossi, Olympic champion

I came to Australia without a job or a plan, just my family. I was asked to train the Australian Sydney Olympics team. Then, I was given the opportunity to work with Beretta Australia by Mr Beretta himself, who was visiting Australia. I had worked for them in Italy, and he was keen to see improvements in Beretta distribution. I presented him with a business plan, and the rest is history.

Later, I became familiar with the Chamber. I was reluctant to be the president at first, but once I took it on, I gave it my all.  

You have just stepped down as president of ICCI. What do you think is your most important legacy?

I stepped down last night and am now vice-president for the next year. I intend to help the new president ease into the role.  

I feel I have contributed to the Chamber. It wasn't really functioning  - to the detriment of trade, business relationships, and networking. I believe I have put together a very cohesive board. Together, we have been able to establish a Chamber that is respected and is in a solid financial position. 

Relationships with local and state government, the consulate, and embassy have never been stronger. This did not happen overnight  - it's a reflection, not only of the board but also efforts by the previous Consul General to support the Chamber. Now we have a very dynamic new Consul General in Hanna Pappalardo. 

With the Chamber in good form, I'm sensing renewed interest from Italian companies like Iveco, Leonardo, and Fila. I'm handing over the presidency to somebody who can start from a good base and grow it from there. That's my legacy; of course, acknowledging the efforts of all the team around me, the CEO, the board, the corporate partners, and the institutions involved.