Francesca is chief Financial Officer and Head of Investor Relations at LVenture Group, a private equity and venture capital firm based in Rome. Having graduated with a degree in business studies from Dorset Institute of Higher Education (the forerunner to BU) in 1986, Francesca joined the tax department at Grant Thornton in the UK before returning to Italy where she has built a career in administrative finance for the auditing and insurance sectors.
Italy imposed a strict and lengthy lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic on 7 March - initially in the north, then nationwide - with a ban on walking or exercising more than 200 metres from home. In early May, some restrictions were relaxed and people are now able to travel for longer distances, as well as visit their relatives in small numbers.
Francesca said: “The lockdown in Italy was extremely challenging, from a personal and business point of view. We went from a situation of everyone being at work in the office one day to being in 100% lockdown the next. As was the case for everyone, it required us to quickly adapt to new ways of working and we got by on a combination of email, Slack, Zoom and WhatsApp to stay connected with colleagues. Because our work is in the financial services sector I was permitted to visit the office. I had my card to show the police and had to do so on several occasions. The fact the lockdown coincided with the time of year when we were trying to close off annual accounts caused a lot of frustrations. Things that are quick and easy to sort out in person take longer when you are scheduling calls or sending out emails and awaiting a response.”
At home Francesca and her family had to adjust to the strict regulations put in place by the Italian government, including only walking their dog once a day – and no further than 200 metres from their home. Despite the restrictions, Francesca said she was surprised at how well the Italian people stuck to the rules. She said: “Culturally, Italians have a very independent spirit. This has been the case across history, and you particularly notice it in the major cities such as Rome. However, during the lockdown people were extremely respectful of the rules and everyone did what they needed to do to stay safe and ease the pressures.”
With the lockdown now easing in Italy, Francesca says that there is a reverse culture shock of getting back to the office. She said: “It is wonderful to be back together with the team again, but it does taking some adjusting to the noise again and of having everyone around in one space. Socially, my children have started going out again and meeting their friends for drinks which is great for them. We are also now able to travel between cities and from June onwards between different counties. That opens up opportunities for travel and a change of scene.”