How I became a CEO at 24 |

How I became a CEO at 24

By Niamh Ollerton

Updated September 27, 2021 Updated September 27, 2021

Responsibility, determination, and a lot of hard work are how Eliomaria Narducci became CEO of ITKAM at just 24.

Becoming CEO of a company is an accomplishment many MBAs aspire to, but few would even dare to dream of achieving it at the tender age of 24.

Eliomaria Narducci graduated from the Master’s in Management at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management in 2015 and has had quite the career journey at such a young age. TopMBA spoke with Eliomaria to find out about his career so far.

Why Frankfurt? 

According to Eliomaria, Italians say there is always a name behind a decision – and for him it was a blonde with blue eyes. Thanks to her, during his bachelor’s degree in International Economics, Management and Finance at Bocconi University, he travelled to Frankfurt regularly and got to know the city.

At the time, youth unemployment in Italy was high and Eliomaria decided to choose a country where he had the most opportunities to boost his career.

In 2013, he came to Germany without speaking any German and learned the language while studying. He says FS’s study model allows students to gain not only good theoretical knowledge, but also hands-on experience working three days a week at a company.

Eliomaria said: “The experience and knowledge students receive translates immediately after the study programme into a high rate of employability. The international environment enhances views on topics given the exchange of experiences in different parts of the world.”

Work at the NORMA Group 

Eliomaria landed his job at the Italian Chamber of Commerce for Germany (ITKAM) through efficient networking at an event organised by FS as the student council’s speaker and ITKAM.

Eliomaria says the network FS has created is international, not only in student nationalities but also partner universities and international partner universities.

He said: “I have a lot to thank Frankfurt School for. I got in contact with my current employer, ITKAM, because of an event with the former Italian Minister of Justice co-organised by ITKAM at the Frankfurt School.

“I was able to meet some of the representatives of the Italian community in Germany, the diplomatic and public organisations, as well as the top managers, professionals and entrepreneurs working between the two countries.”

During the networking event, Eliomaria asked the minister speaking about Italian reform what the government’s agenda was for younger generations, given youth unemployment in Italy was at record levels at the time.

A debate began, and Eliomaria was eventually asked what Italy could learn from his international experience that could help the country.

He said: “I explained I was immediately given the possibility to work with experienced professionals in Germany, and it is the mix of knowledge and vision of experienced people, together with the younger generation’s energies and willingness to do and make mistakes that makes organisations improve.”

Soon thereafter Eliomaria was invited for lunch by the President of the Italian Chamber of commerce for Germany who offered him a job.

Day-to-day responsibilities at ITKAM 

In 2015, Prof. Emanuele Gatti, former CEO of EMEALA & Global Chief Strategist of Fresenius Medical Care was appointed President of ITKAM, and at that time, ITKAM was facing one of the toughest crises of its 100-year existence.

Eliomaria realised the situation was as bad as Gatti described when he took up his position. Eliomaria said: “The objective operational difficulties and the total lack of liquidity were the results of bad management and recent reforms to the Italian Chamber of Commerce’s system that led to losses accumulated in previous years.

“The first months at the chamber were tough. I had to restructure the whole organisation from the fundamentals while the business was still running at continuous losses. We were losing subsidies and our main clients at the same time. We were cutting costs while developing and generating new revenue streams. At the end of 2015, we recorded the first break-even after years.”

Becoming CEO at 24 

It goes without saying that becoming CEO within a year, and at the age of just 24, is quite the acheivement, and Eliomaria says his responsibility and determination as a project manager landed him the coveted position.

He said: “I was given the responsibility to restructure an organisation over 100 years old with very important relationships with both public and private sectors.

"At the same time, being 24 years old, I wanted to prove to everybody that I could make it.”

Eliomaria started at ITKAM as a project manager and was able to see the problems causing the organisation’s difficult financial situation. To improve this, he created a restructure plan and says he wasn’t afraid to present to the board – a plan which has been accepted.

He said: “Without the trust of some key employees of ITKAM who worked together with me since the start of the project, it would have been much more difficult. Afterwards, these people became the managers of the Chamber.

Does a MiM prepare you for the world of work? 

Eliomaria says he is satisfied with the knowledge and skills acquired at FS to help him in his career, the same as his classmates who were also able to find jobs during or right after the MiM.

He feels the concentrations in manufacturing, strategy and banking lead students to top industry players, and courses offered in the MiM give students an overview of units and jobs present in a firm. He added: “When I look at the companies and positions that I and my classmates reached in this amount of time after graduation, I could not feel prouder.

“Most students work three days a week alongside their studies and this creates an environment of knowledge-sharing that is difficult to find in other master’s programmes.

“The MiM helped me be ready to deal with the different inputs that I have to manage during the day. Thanks to my classmates, I had precious insight into other sectors and jobs which helped me better understand which career path I wanted to take.” 

This article was originally published in September 2021 .

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