An Interview with Emanuele Plata
You are President of a Foundation dealing mainly with the spread of the message of sustainability in the companies in order to create value and competitive advantage. Could you please do a balance of these years of activity and illustrate how PLEF operated in the companies in order to change this sustainable vision in an operational code and how the enterprises behaved in response to this cultural innovation?
The action of PLEF through the years was first of all directed to denounce a problem of the enterprises: the shift away from the markets and the conditioning of the finance. Aftwards, PLEF focused on building a real “cultural consciousness” thanks to the relationships with the academic and research world. At its beginning, the foundation worked in the involved enterprises by raising the awareness starting in primis to sensitize people of the company which approached the Onlus: they gave life to indipendent corporate initiatives belonging to the logic of PLEF. For example, I remember my personal case, as CEO of CRAI, with the development of the Ecopoint Crai. Furthermore, I would mention the case of Nestle Waters with the CEO of the period Settembri and the relaunch of the Italian sources San Pellegrino and San Bernardo. Since 2010, when PLEF joined the National Council of GREEN ECONOMY, the action of the Foundation has been even more widespread by working with the companies in the building of a sustainable sensitivity not only at a conceptual level but also at a strategic one. PLEF over time gave life to initiatives and made available to the persons of enterprise a range of instruments in order to achieve more value and more welfare for the company with evident positive effects on the territory and on the community in the context in the practice of the enterprise.
According to your experience as manager of leading Italian brands, in the future which role would have intangible values also at level of small and medium-sized enterprise?
The role of intangibles for the companies is essential with no doubt: without distinctions of sector and size. Intangibles are at the basis of the strategic positioning for every enterprise and the sustainable strategic positioning is a fundamental condition in order to build “added value”. Therefore, the priority for an enterprise is understanding the meaning of positioning strategically in a sustainable way, by finding its own intangibles, connecting them with the model of business and, finally, measure the correlation with the results of value. The exceptional fact which PLEF experienced is that small and medium-sized enterprises are provided with these intangibles because they are near to the market, the territory, the persons. The size has a limit which influences the symbiosis between intangible and building of a lasting value, then the organizational models should take it in account their dimension when they develop. In this sense, Italy – compared with other countries of the world – has competitive advantages in the managing sustainable system.
In your opinion, the expressions “foundation” and “business” are an oxymoron or even in the world of no profit it is possible to create an economic sustainability?
An ONLUS works with no profit aims but with the ones of building material and immaterial value. An ONLUS – by definition – lives with economic sustainability. Anyway, the economic inputs can have sense only if the purpose of building value is reached and recognized. In this view, according to PLEF, there are no differences between social enterprises and enterprises, and also the recent emergence of the perspective of the Benefit Corporation belongs to this direction. This theme remains ultracontemporary in Italy for what concerns the rules of the third sector and for the law proposals emerged with the Benefit Corporation.
Emanuele Plata, after the achievement of the degree in Economics and Commerce at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan, in the 1969 started the career in the Marketing and Sales Manager Area in Unilever. He was Sales Director Exportex (1984-1988), Commercial Officer Mondadori – Books Division and General Director Mondadori Spagna (1988-1989), Commercial Officer Heiniken Italia Spa (1989-1995), CEO Carapelli Firenze Spa (1995-2001), since June, 2001, Executive Director CRAI soc. coop. A. R. L. and since 2007 to September, 2010 President of CRAI Beijing Co Co Ltd. Co-foundator of Planet Life Economy Foundation, he became President in 2012.