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LUISS Guido Carli

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Be ready to embrace change

Advice from LUISS alumni and CFO of Oracle Italia, Andrea Aterno

Andrea Aterno

With a LUISS degree in Economics and nearly twenty years of management experience in large multinational companies, Andrea Aterno has been the CFO of Oracle Italia since 2012.

“When I began my studies, the memory of Guido Carli was still alive, and even in my family his name and LUISS were well known. I was able to experience how LUISS truly takes care of its students, putting them in the best conditions to reach their potential. I had constant contact with my instructors, allowing me the possibility to deepen my understanding with professors and their assistants. I studied a lot, spending nearly all day on campus. As there were so few of us, competition was fierce, but in the end this turned out to be a positive, educational component.”

“It was like a four-year full immersion. What I remember is a family, a community,” says Aterno. “LUISS gave me so much: preparation, a point of reference, quality professors and genuine human relationships. I still appreciate all of this, even later on in my career.”

In 1994 Aterno completed his degree with a thesis on Accounting. “The subject has always been one of my passions. It was an important moment for me, crossing the finish line full of tension and emotions, as it marked a personal loss. My thesis advisor, Carlo Caramiello, who I had the privilege of studying under, passed away just a few days from my dissertation. Giovanni Fiori took his place, and later offered me the opportunity to collaborate with what was known as the LUISS School of Management.”

A few months later, Aterno left for the Accademia della Guardia di Finanza in Bergamo before working in the European Fraud section in Rome. “It was an important experience and my first real job after graduation. I ran different offices, giving me the chance to learn about the practical side of management. This was much appreciated during my first private-sector interview with Sara Lee’s Personal Products.”

After three years with the American company, in the end of the 90s Aterno opened the Italian branch of Bea Systems, a successful startup in Italy from the USA-based software company. “At the beginning I was responsible for finance as well as human resources and facility management. I was a jack of all trades and it was extremely motivating. That moment of my career was a step into the unknown, there were many risks but it proved to be the right move. The company grew, I became a manager at the age of 32 and CEO at 37.”

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In those years, Andrea Aterno covered various roles in both the Italian market and the Middle East & Africa, acting as Finance Director. Then in 2008, Bea Systems was acquired by the American giant, Oracle. “I won’t hide that it required a strong sense of adaptation. It was a turbulent moment, everyone felt uncertain. In the end it was a great opportunity: I waited my turn and the right moment. I helped bring the entire company that I created into Oracle, focusing on maintaining human capital.”

In 2009 he was appointed Finance Director for Western Continental Europe, for business units focused on EPM and BI products. Then, three years later he became the Chief Financial Officer of Oracle Italia. “A CFO’s role has changed a lot over the years. Originally a sort of inspector or financial steward, the CFO currently has a much more strategic role, similar to a co-pilot or corporate strategist. As a sort of business partner, the CFO is directly involved in management and risk prevention at all levels, as well as analyzing, simulating and presenting results in addition to giving instructions on how to best improve them, strategically speaking.”

For precisely this reason, Aterno believes that those interested in careers in Finance should “demonstrate leadership, decision-making and communication skills as well as business acumen that probably was not requested in the past. In addition to practical, analytical skills, you must be able to welcome challenges posed by new technology and digitalization. However, the most fundamental aspect is adaptability: in my experience it was essential. Try to embrace change, even if it means abandoning your comfort zone, and look for international opportunities in your work. My advice is to let yourselves be contaminated: since everything today is global, you must be open to the outside and gaining experience in the world while still at university.”