The Business of Italy, the UK and a balanced Brexit
Dr Maurizio Bragagni is an entrepreneur and risk-taker. That may sound at odds for a CEO leading the UK arm of a family-owned, Italian global business, but he is one of the reasons Tratos is Europe’s leading independent cable maker — and flourishing.
An ability to find and value the right people has been pivotal to the company’s success. That, and a culture of innovation where mistakes are seen as a valuable contribution to the learning process.
Then there’s that twin-nation hub to a global business. Dr Bragagni has strong feelings for and about both. He says: “England is my wife and Italy is my mother, don’t ask me which I love more!”
After finishing a law masters’ degree in Italy, he arrived in the UK almost two decades ago as a Tratos employee, speaking no English.
At the company’s UK manufacturing base in Merseyside, he found a source of highly-skilled specialist talent — a remnant of the area’s previous cabling industry — and a hunger for jobs.
Falling in love with his adopted country he quickly learned the language and saw huge potential for a closer UK Italy relationship.
His first steps within the business in Italy were taken with a strongly-held view that ‘you can’t inherit respect’. The young Bragagni set about earning the respect of his colleagues starting on the factory floor, helping make cables. “It was an important lesson for me. I needed to understand how things look to our people and appreciate the challenges and frustrations — as well as the satisfactions — from the ground up.”
Later, as CEO and living in London where Tratos has its UK HQ, Dr Bragagni studied for a masters’ degree (EMBA) at Cass Business School; completing his studies and dissertation in English.
“If you want to run an international business with a British base it helps to be educated locally. I was missing the pragmatism of the British people. At Cass, they teach you things you can apply to your own business — that has been invaluable. I saw the business from a different perspective. I am better placed to work to achieve a much-needed culture change that benefits all.
“What also struck me about British people is their willingness to take risks. You fight for something and you fix it — in business this is to be valued.
“Britain has had some standout leadership. I am fascinated by British politics, its structure and its heritage. I have been fortunate to have some of my own political thoughts published on Politicsmeanspolitics.com.”
Applying the best of Italian and British thinking he continues to exploit every opportunity to bring the two countries closer together for mutual benefit.
Competing on quality, the company thrives with Dr Bragagni looking after the running of global operations (outside Italy) — under the eye of his uncle, Tratos Cavi’s president Albano Bragagni. A business selling across multiple countries is no longer a simple one — another reason he sees the importance in Tratos being ‘local’ everywhere. The company’s global network guarantees there is always help on hand for Tratos’ customers.
Dr Bragagni led the company through major investment in new facilities, creating much needed employment and state of the art centres of excellence for manufacturing and developing next-generation cables in the UK.
Tratos broke into new industry sectors with innovative products that improve performance. Working alongside customers on bespoke design projects, it became the ‘go to’ company for an elegant solution to the most pressing problems faced by utilities, transport, construction, ports, telecoms and fibre optic cables for broadband.
“I lead by example and encourages senior team members to be inspired and inspire( as my uncle Albano and my father Germano did with me). The same can be said of the processes around Brexit. The country needs to be inspired by, and have confidence in, those charged with conducting Britain’s exit.
“Balance will be the key to Brexit success. An outcome where one party is happy and the other isn’t is not a compromise. Tough negotiation is important, but those around the table will have to give a little to get a little.
“So the parting probably should be bitter-sweet — on both sides.”
There is more to come from Dr Bragagni, in some respects he is just getting started — as an entrepreneur and risk taker you’d expect nothing less.
Dr Bragagni is married to Alessandra and they have four daughters. Dr Bragagni splits his time between working in the UK and his interests around the world.