For our quest for the business hero we asked Michele Orzan how he would describe it and if has ever met one.
Michele Orzan, an Italian eco-social leader with eclectic military-humanities-business-capitalist-socialist and ethnic-minority based education, sold his company YOPPI to Coca-Cola International and decided to redistribute his lucky stake in the form of education and world-improving initiatives. He is the president of EuCham – European Chamber, the institution representing international businesses and their ethical side.
1. Please introduce yourself (who you are, what you are doing, what is your profession…)
I am used to introducing myself as a former entrepreneur. Several years ago, I sold all my companies to multinationals in different countries where I was active, in central Europe.Lately, I have been involved in international organizations, social business, NGOs, associations, and foundations all across Europe.
2. Let’s start with an easy game of word association. What comes to your mind when I say “business”? And what comes to your mind when I say “hero”? There are no wrong answers!
I consider business one of the essential pillars of today’s society. Together with the government and civil society, the business represents the proactive part of human activities, which is an important side of our society’s development.
It’s interesting: you used to imagine heroes as people fighting for good causes and achieving great results when you were young. If I figure it out today, heroes are probably still fighting, but in a different dimension. Maybe dealing with politics, social issues and so on.
3. Now, let’s combine them together…what do you think is a business hero?
The business hero today is the leader of companies, a leader of activities who doesn’t think only about their own benefits, results, profit, or financial results, but puts every other aspect of a better life in front, or at least at the same level, with the same importance, as the other activities of the company. A business hero today is the one who does the right thing, even when no one is watching, and this is the secret.
4. Every business person goes through a journey: when did you hear your call, and how did your journey start?
I had many starts in my business journey. When I was a teenager, I was doing all kinds of activities so that when I went to university, I already had a pretty successful track record behind me, and I had enough resources to allow me to travel the world, visiting four continents during my university time, all with the results of my activities during high school.I started the formal business after university with my company in Italy, and later, after several years, I started another company group in Hungary, in Central Europe.
After selling all these companies, I started another journey, which lays in the civil society, with the organizations I’m leading today, the most important being the European Chamber.So all these starts meant a lot to me because every new beginning is a new challenge. At every start, I try to be more and more committed to do some activities for a better world.In this interview, we’re speaking about ethics and moral rules.
Actually, we have ethics which equals moral philosophy.But what happens when we don’t follow these rules? When this happens, and we see it very much in the business world today, we see problems in our society. So, the real mission that business leaders have to follow today is to have moral rules and be consistent with them. Here we are speaking about business integrity, so it’s essential to have moral rules and apply them in everyday aspects of our company and our collaborators who are connected with the activity of our suppliers, clients and so on.
5. Which obstacles did you encounter during your journey?
I did not encounter any obstacles. Actually, I considered them challenges that offered opportunities to learn and improve to overcome them. So, every time it was an opportunity for me to learn. All these challenges were teaching me something, and I hope they were also teaching to collaborators, partners, and all people who were working with me. So, during our whole life, we’re using these opportunities for personal growth, and by doing so, we find that we are making more significant improvements than we thought, resulting in contributions to a better world.
6. Did you find a mentor or inspiring leader to help go forward?
No specific mentors or inspiring leaders. But I found countless mentors and inspiring leaders in every person I interacted with. So I’ve learned something from everybody in my life, these being my partners, clients, or collaborators, and I also hope I shared the same messages I’ve learned from the previous one.
7. What important lessons did you learn, and what is your contribution to society?
The lesson is that we are learning every single day. Every day and every contact with someone who comes into our lives brings many development opportunities. I am lucky to have a life partner who teaches me that it is never enough. We never stop learning. Even when we think that we are doing the right thing, there are opportunities to find harmony in our lives and our actions to improve even more.So I have critical control over my actions and my activities to think and continuously improve how we work and contribute to a better life for the people around us. That said, it is very helpful to find a little mentor, a little inspiring leader in everybody around you.
8. Atlas World is looking for business heroes with an Ethical, Sustainable, and Creative approach: can you think of someone who embodies these qualities?
It isn’t easy to find a single person who embodies everything or nominate a champion, and actually, the nice thing is to discover the countless champions around you. And every day, if you look into the messages that people around you are giving you, you will be surprised to discover how many little nice things are happening around you in everyday’s life. Much help, support, and compassion are around. There are also negative parts, but a lot of nice people are helping daily their peers to have a better life. So, instead of nominating somebody, I enjoy finding this kind of person in everyone I come in contact with.
9. Do you consider yourself a business hero?
I am not a business hero yet. We all would like to reach that point. And relating to what I said before about continuous learning, every day can make us a little bit better. So, the journey is never completed. We have countless opportunities to improve, and a secret is to be open to the criticism of others. We cannot improve by ourselves, mainly: a lot of help is coming from the others. Other people can give us support, can provide us with suggestions, and can give us criticism. Criticisms allow us to learn and look inside ourselves to see if we’re doing the right thing. Because the right thing is a concept that evolves with our journey.