25 Jun 2021

An unexpected phone call that started my experience in Generali

Mario Carini from Generali Osiguranje d.d.

Pisa, summer 2002. On a warm summer evening during the last year of my undergraduate studies, I was having dinner in the lawn of the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, with several fellow students. It was typical in summer, after hitting the books during the day, to take the food trays from the student canteen and eat together outside, sitting in the grass. The beginning of that summer was particularly warm and, to add to the relaxed environment, the Football World Cup (not a memorable one for Italy …) was taking place that month in Asia.


In those days I was rushing to finish my undergraduate dissertation: an econometric analysis of the Italian insurance market. It was June, I wanted to graduate in December hence the complete dissertation needed to be submitted to my University by September (i.e. physically printed, bound and signed by the supervisor in several copies … the process was not exactly digitalized yet …), therefore – as my supervisor was on holidays throughout August – my time horizon for everything was the end of July.


To run statistical regressions, I had asked – via my dissertation supervisor – insurance market data to Generali as well as to the Italian Insurance association. While sitting in the lawn and eating supper, my (at that time far from being smart …) mobile phone rings. A gentleman introduces himself. He is a manager from the Research department of the Head Office of Assicurazioni Generali in Trieste. I had neither spoken to him nor met him in person before, but I was aware my supervisor had been in contact with him to help me getting market data. Trying to cover the noise from the loud student evening environment, I thanked him for the material, expecting the market data to be the focus of this unexpected call…


To my surprise, his tone was different. He had read the abstract of the dissertation, found it interesting and wanted to offer me a short internship at Generali, in his area, immediately after my expected graduation, the following January. As my time horizon was the deadline for handing the dissertation in, January sounded years away. I was also considering pursuing post-graduate studies immediately after obtaining my Economics degree hence, on the spot, I was not really sure about how to react to the proposal. The proposal also sounded informal, especially for how I was expecting, in my student mind, the Head Office of a large and established insurer to sound … but exactly that mix of practical informality and strong focus on content triggered my interest.


We agreed to meet in person in Trieste a week later to have a chat on both the dissertation and the internship idea. Going to Trieste also sounded interesting. I had fond memories of Trieste as I had spent my last two high-school years in its surrounding. I hadn’t been there for some time, therefore I took the opportunity and arranged the logistics … ensured my only suit was duly dry-cleaned and with a proper tie, arranged accommodation (in fact the living-room coach of a high-school friend finishing his undergraduate studies in Trieste) and bought the train ticket (Pisa Centrale – Trieste Centrale: at that time an almost day-long sauna on regional trains with connections in the brutal heat that the stations of Firenze Santa Maria Novella, Bologna centrale and Venezia Mestre can offer in a warm summer …).


The meeting went well … I also managed to graduate on time a few months later and in January 2003 my experience in Generali as an intern in Trieste began. Exactly a half year after that unexpected phone call …