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Federico Protto, CEO, Retelit

Federico Protto: Bringing Transformative Shifts to Make Business Smarter

When innovative technologies are implemented, they drive behavioral changes as consumers represent potential new markets. To improve efficiency and effectiveness in the current business logic, it becomes necessary to adapt to the newer changes while accelerating the innovative process. Executing this innovative approach with his exceptional managerial skills is Federico Protto.
As the CEO of Retelit, Federico makes tough decisions to drive the business to provide clients with a wide array of digital solutions. Retelit is the Italian leader in constructing tailor-made digital transformation projects executed on entirely Group-managed platforms.
The Exhilarating Journey
With over two decades of managerial skills and experience in the TLC sector, Federico was appointed as the CEO of Retelit in 2015. He has successfully steered the company’s growth trajectory based on his leadership principles: trust and credibility.
Born in Milan in 1967, Federico is a Bocconi MBA graduate, holding a Masters in Information Technology. He states that in 2014, Retelit was in a troubling situation from a market and financial point of view. The shareholders perhaps liked the managerial track record and entrusted Federico with bringing the business back to the levels an important company such as Retelit must have.
Since Federico joined Retelit, he has always set precise and realistic goals and used his managerial skills to capitalize on trends in what many regards as a complex and constantly changing market and respond to fast-moving developments in the fields of technology and infrastructure. Retelit has thus gradually changed its identity, and major goals have been achieved: AAE-1 international subsea cable project has been completed, expanding the clients base (not only operators but also enterprises and governments). Retelit accomplished important M&A projects, and all of this has been reflected in the positive numbers in its recent financial statements.
Sculpting The Professional Experience
Federico studied Electronic Engineering with enormous satisfaction and pleasure. He soon realized that being “just” an engineer was not enough for him. He preferred talking to people and interacting in social contexts rather than just technological ones. He started in Telecom Italia, where he managed teams of people in call centers; it was a very important “formative” period because it allowed him to deal with industrial and trade union predicaments and taught himself how to deal with complicated dynamics successfully.
Even though Federico was happy with Telecom, it was too national for him; thus, he started looking for international exposure. Shortly, he engaged with MCI Worldcom before starting a 13-year long experience in Deutsche Telecom, where he managed several countries. This wonderful experience allowed him to grow from a managerial point of view, with an orientation to control and management. However, above all, he understood the importance of defining a strategy, mentions Federico. He continues that thinking about medium and long-term planning is very dangerous because the business is changing more and more rapidly, but talking about strategy, investments, and return on investments is fundamental; otherwise, you are playing it by ear. In Federcios’s opinion, the dystonia of business today is precisely this: long-term planning is impracticable, but a company without a strategy is dead. Defining a 5-year strategy in a context that changes every six months is the main challenge of a business leader today; you must have a clear vision and goals in an unpredictable environment. The experience in Deutsche Telecom helped him a lot in developing these skills.
Under Federico’s leadership, Retelit has become more robust: carrying out ambitious expansion plans and revised its infrastructure network; its key performance indices improved and, in 2016, one year ahead of schedule, it managed to achieve a historical milestone when, for the first time in the Group’s history, it earned an operating profit (EBIT) amounting to Euro 2.2 million. Federico asserts that the Group has grown considerably, and its share of the market has expanded accordingly. The positive annual financial statements issued by the company over the last five years reflect this upward trend.
Innovative Approach
In the pursuit of being best-in-class, Retelit is an increasingly interconnected and digital global community that requires that the company grants and delivers ever better performing telecommunications platforms to a significant share of the market while tackling the challenges. Federico asserts that the development of Industry 4.0, the digitalization process that has spread across all major businesses and infrastructure, the progress in artificial intelligence, and the advent of 5G and the Cloud are a true and proper global market revolution. Promoting and successfully delivering the digital revolution requires the execution of complex projects that rely on sophisticated technology. Over the last five years, Retelit has endeavored to satisfy the market connectivity demand by drawing up a plan for growth and the foundation of its valuable assets.
To satisfy the ever-growing demand from enterprises, Retelit has recently closed two important M&A projects. It has invested mainly in skills and competencies. Currently, the company can cover all the digitalization and ICT value chain from infrastructure to data, from network to applications. The company’s target market shares – even more after the Covid period – needs tailor-made digital projects.
Retelit is continuously improving its internally managed platform: in partnership with Huawei, it developed a Multicloud platform that can manage Hybrid Cloud solutions on an end-to-end basis, including the Cloud services at its Data Centers, the traditional outsourcing of infrastructure, the Public Cloud provided by suppliers such as AWS and Microsoft Azure, thus bringing on stream a broad range of IT services models and maximum flexibility. It is based on Openstack software, allowing Retelit customers to benefit from an open environment, extremely flexible, scalable, and free from vendor lock-ins.
Above and Beyond
Speaking about the future, Federico says, “At present, Retelit is a “little big player”: the product portfolio is as wide as the ones of only a few big competitors. We are a boutique for large customers who prefer to reduce the number of their suppliers, becoming a real partner with which to undertake the path of their growth. We accompany our customers all along the way: from the first encounter, when they define their needs, to when they become customers, and all the way long to further implementations and renovations. And we do that as much for the infrastructure services, as for the Digital Solutions.”
While in the next decades, Retelit will see a kind of trivialization of the connectivity services. It will be increasingly capable of providing digital solutions running on its infrastructure (for those customers choosing the complete package). In the meantime, it is positioning in the wholesale market will strengthen itself thanks to the never-ending growth of bandwidth demand worldwide.