25 Jun 2021

Once upon on an Island

emma ursich from AG SpA

Venice is an island in the shape of a fish, made up of lots of little islands.

On one of these, two years ago, I lived one of the most truly magical moments of my career in Generali.

My story is about San Servolo Island, once upon a time a monastery, then an asylum for people with mental health issues, today the lively student campus of Venice International University.

It seems a life time ago, since Covid swept our lives, but it was only one and a half years ago, September 2019. Three hundred people, gathering together from twenty countries, sharing the same purpose under the banner of The Human Safety Net. The first time ever we had mixed our NGO partners, our wonderful first volunteers in this movement of people helping people, our super motivated colleagues in our markets who are the closest every day to our NGOs in making The Human Safety Net come alive and many from our top leadership, country CEOs, our Group Management Committee, our Chairman. All together, mapping and designing new collaborations to serve the vulnerable, activating all levers within the social and the profit world such as the one we represent with Generali with its products, services, networks, people and skills.

I was rather concerned of the success of this first big encounter, so complex and so new for its ambition and unusual in its hybrid format. This was much more than writing a cheque for philantropy. It was truly listening, engaging for the long term and walking the talk of our purpose, ultimately, applying the same drive, intentionality and focus we employ in our daily business for the common good.

Something clicked, and it was amazing, the energy, the ideas, the mutual curiosity and openness to be there for one another, truly valuing what each can bring. The words of some of the colleagues, and those of some of the representatives from the NGOs on how much this had meant to them, how autenthic it felt, unlike perhaps – with some bias – they would have expected from a so called “corporate” event. All the four behaviours of Generali, coming alive at once.

And what means the most to me is that the work we did is still very much alive today and now for example is being implemented in the new Sustain and Grow programme for our talents, the Future Owners, among many others.

To think that soon, Generali and The Human Safety Net will have a place to call home in the Procuratie Vecchie in Piazza San Marco Venice, is all the more exciting, imagining how much more we can do there, to engage in dialogue and build meaningful work in the field of social innovation to be implemented in all the countries where we, every day, try to contribute to make our communities more inclusive and resilient together.

I feel grateful to belong to a group with such a vision for the future and to be part of a wide community of colleagues working towards our shared purpose, a true movement of people helping people.