Giovanni Stornante

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What does the club you have created do?
Club ITAM was founded in June 2008 to fulfil the need for an Italian networking group, which did not exist at the time. We periodically organise informal get-togethers, joint events with other business associations, thematic round-tables and seminars. Our network helps members to integrate, share experiences and information, and deal with common and less common issues.

Who do you help?
ITAM stands for ‘Italiani a Mosca’, therefore our natural audience is composed of Italian individuals and organisations based in the Russian capital. Nonetheless, we are open to any other people and organisations that have a concrete interest in Italy, Italian business and culture.

What is your own feeling about Russia and Russians?
Russia is a very welcoming country and a place full of opportunities for entrepreneurs and organisations alike, be it multinational corporations or independent SMEs, provided that they decide to commit to the market. Personally, I have dedicated all of my professional life to Russia, and have always been rewarded and satisfied by the outcome of such a choice.
I find that Russians are very similar to us Italians in terms of how they conduct business, apply flexibility, creativity and curiosity, and put interpersonal relations before everything else. This makes them easily approachable and fun to work with. Moreover, generally speaking, Russians adore our country and culture, and that makes it even easier.

What do you think the future holds?
We are going through complex times, and the foreign business community that resides here is strongly affected by decisions taken by politicians who are a long way away, and who evidently do not want to think too much about the damages inflicted to businesses and long-term investments. It will be tough for a while, maybe a couple of years, given a series of factors such as falling oil prices, rouble devaluation, high inflation and the difficulty for Russian banks and corporations to finance themselves abroad, which all add to the existing problems of an economy not diversified enough.
We need to adapt to changing conditions and if possible be even closer to the market, increasing customer service, optimizing logistics, limiting our clients’ currency risk. There are lots of untapped niches in which we can prosper, we just need to switch into a more entrepreneurial mentality, figure out what the market really needs and focus on it.

Russia will reward those who do not fear, I am absolutely positive about that.