At the Helm: Chiara Pisa

By Patricia Olsen

A few minutes with the CEO of Pisa Orologeria, watch retailers in Milan, Italy.

Generation of family ownership: Third.

Company revenues: In excess of $50 million (2014).

Number of employees: About 50.

Years with the company: Ten.

First job at this company: Back office and logistics assistant.

At what age? 26. As a teenager I would spend several days in the shop, where I liked to listen to people tell about the secrets of watches and the history of the different brands. But only after graduating in economics at the Bocconi University and studying abroad for some time did I decide to join the company permanently.

Most memorable thing I learned from my father: To have an entrepreneurial attitude. He was a very curious man with a lot of interests both in his professional and his private life. This versatility led him to have plenty of projects in many different fields.

Most memorable thing I learned from my mother: To be humble in one's profession. She spent her youth in the firm and always considered it a large family. Real entrepreneurs take care of their people. They're the first to arrive in the shop and the last to leave.

Best thing about this job: Having the opportunity to represent the best brands in watchmaking and to tell the watch enthusiasts coming from all over the world about them. Also, personally meeting and taking care of customers coming from countries and cultures so different from mine is very challenging. There is always something new to discover, and differences are a source of value. One of our greatest successes: Opening one of the biggest Rolex boutiques in the world in Via Montenapoleone in 2008, and opening the first Patek Philippe boutique in Italy in the Quadrilatero della Moda ["fashion square"] in the same year.

Best advice I ever got: Always listen carefully before making a decision.

Quote from our company's mission statement: To give watch lovers across the world the chance to discover and get to know about the world of watchmaking.

On my wall: A collage of photos: some from my most significant business meetings, others with members of the company staff.

One of my greatest accomplishments: To have pushed Pisa Orologeria towards internationalization, making it grow from a shop into a large company by fostering several projects and betting on young talent. A new multibrand store, opened last fall in the Quadrilatero, is the proof of this engagement.

Best thing about working in a family business: The family dimension is to be seen as an asset and not as a limit. When people feel they belong to a group and feel "at home," they work better; they achieve their targets more easily and feel involved in the company objectives.

Worst thing about working in a family business: In general, great power is always related to a big responsibility that grows even stronger in the presence of an emotional relationship. Every decision I make has not only professional implications but also human ones: The well-being and the profitability of the company have direct consequences on 40 families.

My mentor: Roberto Beccari, the CEO of LVMH Watch & Jewelry Italy SpA. I met him during my working experience in TAG Heuer, after LVMH bought it. I worked there for a year after college.

My advice for other family business leaders: Treat the people working with you with respect and consideration. That's what a real leader does. Also, surround yourself with people who know more than you do.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: Our firm supports several charity associations. As a woman I am especially engaged with and close to the LILT [the Italian League for the Fight Against Cancer] campaign against breast cancer. I believe in the ethical engagement of entrepreneurs for social purposes.

I realized I had emerged from the previous generation's shadow when... I understood it was up to me to make a decision. My choice, my responsibility.

Words I live by: "We have to get used to the idea that at the most important crossroads in our life there are no signs."—Ernest Hemingway.

Copyright 2016 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

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Issue: 
March/April 2016

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