The innovative power of being 20 years old.
A meeting with Tobia Alessi, Head of Research and Development at Domenico Alessi Spa.
It’s not every day that you meet a 20-year-old boy who holds a position of responsibility within a company. On the contrary, for the specific sector of competence it can be said that it is a more
unique circumstance than rare. Tobia Alessi is the head of Research and Development at Domenico Alessi Spa. Like all 20 year olds, Tobia cultivates the dreams that give life to the hopes of his wonderful
age. But it is immediately clear that he is a young man with his head on his shoulders. Also because his dream is already being realized.
Tobia Alessi, what does it mean to be 20 years old and therefore have the interests of all young people of your age but at the same time be a manager of a company of this level?
«First of all, it means a great desire to grow, to never stop learning and to say: “You can always do better”. It means to be passionate about your work, which is something that came by chance, in the summer after the school exams. It’s still a great responsibility that I found myself and I also looked for myself. I’ve always been fascinated by the
manual ability to work, to do something concrete».
Who was Tobia before he became the R&D manager?
«I attended a language school. A high school that always interested me because I always imagined, in the future, that I would use English and languages to have a better knowledge of whatever work I would choose. When I finished my private exams, in the three summer months, with friends who had gone away for the holidays, staying at home bored me and I started to come to the company to do the jobs a bit easier, like taking papers and go to offices. However, it was my first introduction to the world of work. Seeing what the time is, waking up
early, having goals, appointments and then being precise. I felt I had responsibilities that I didn’t have before with the school, apart from waking up early. While with work calling people and being on time
involved small big responsibilities».
Between the time you took papers and went to the office and the time you became Head of Research and Development, what happened? What was the pathway?
«The path was unexpected, started thanks to my dad, supported by Alice and Filippo. Like them I learned all the steps of the work to have my personal baggage and be able to give something added to the company. Learning how gold arrives and how to work it, department by department, helps to give a great awareness and knowledge of the product, its development processes. A journey that lasted about a year and a half and that led me from the first step in the Wire Drawing Laboratory to the Control Office and then to be responsible for the Research and Development department. A responsibility that concerns not only the conception of new chains but also the development of the production of existing chains with less cost, more time saving, less energy consumption».
So, what does Research and Development at Domenico Alessi mean?
«Never stop, always have a new goal, have no limits, be able to experiment. One very important thing is the trust that my brothers Filippo, Alice and my father have given me, but also our collaborators such as Mauro, in charge of production, and Paola, in the control office. I have the freedom to express myself creatively, daring and trying to face new challenges. The experimentation on the product and on the materials together with the continuous confrontation with those who have more experience than me are the values that have brought us to have successes like the Figaro 3 Colors of natural alloy, one of our strong points ».
What is the experimentation about? Materials, production processes? What do you experiment in the R&D Department?
«With the chain you can only start from a material that is gold, white gold, yellow gold or pink gold, and from here you can open a world. It is a long process that requires a lot of patience in finding the right compromise between the idea, the machinery, the time and the same material that must be suitable for processing».
Let us talk about results. What are the product results you are most proud of?
«Two products in particular. The Figaro 3 Colors of natural alloy that was one of my first projects, born from an idea. It is a chain, a combination of yellow, pink and white gold with the result, which was also a challenge, of having a single gold thread of three different natural alloy colors. Until now, the “three colors” had always been thought of as a pink, a white and a yellow link or vice versa, so we revolutionized the concept of the three colors by creating a new chain. The other product is much simpler but in my opinion it is just as beautiful. It is a forced chain that is born rolo but, through machines, is turned link by link through a plastic deformation. By modifying a
gradation of the machine by a few millimetres and modifying the workmanship, we were able to give the chain another type of shape, more rectangular. It was a challenge to geometrically change the
concept of the chain ».
Domenico Alessi has its own vision. What is your vision?
«My vision is first and foremost as a family. That is, having all the same ideas, then being able to approach the respective ideas and integrate them into a single vision but maintaining their specificity. As far as I’m concerned, the vision is not to stop at what can be a basic chain, standards or certain types of processing and to always look for machinery, the way that can innovate if not revolutionize the production process ».
You told me your friends don’t understand what you are doing. What do you say to explain it to them ?
«I explain that I am the head of a Research and Development team that has the task of finding new ideas and developing even old ones, maybe some that have not yet been completed. I also explain that today, however, with new materials and machinery, there is the possibility of doing so».
What do they tell you?
«They say: “Tobia, you are only 20 years old, aren’t you afraid of this responsibility?”».
How do you reply?
« No, it doesn’t scare me, you have to have a lot of will power and a great desire to commit, to get involved ».
Tobia, what will you do when you grow up?