One value: create a company and bring it to life. Riches, work, innovation, development. Yet also the growth and transformation – both economic and social – of entire communities. A story told through the images and words of the documentary “Leopoldo Pirelli – Dedication to industry and civil society”, produced by the Pirelli Foundation, created by 3D Productions for Memomi and broadcast on Sky Arte HD Italia on 26 January to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the death of one of the greatest ever Italian businessmen.
“Gentleman businessman” was the name given to Pirelli by the Italian newspapers on 24 January 2007, perfectly summarising, in his obituary, Pirelli’s most distinctive trait on both a human and professional level. “Leopoldo Pirelli, the serious Italian”, the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” had written some years before, in September 1990, recognising his qualities at a time when Pirelli was preparing to buy the German tyre group Continental. The acquisition was never completed. Yet the person in charge of Pirelli left a positive impression on the public.
There is a great moral tale to be found in the story of the men who, in over nearly a century and a half of history, have built Pirelli, from the founder Giovanni Battista, to his sons Alberto and Piero, and from Leopoldo Pirelli, the third generation, to the shareholders and managers of today. Leopoldo being the prime example. A true businessman, always attentive to people and values, interpreted by that open spirit of the conservative Milan innovator: cultured, modern and international, characteristics which still today represent one of the great European cities. And “a moral man”, to use another appropriate definition.
This is confirmed by the “Ten rules of a good businessman”, summarising his experience gained as the leader of the company (published in these pages). It begins with the conviction that “Free private enterprise is an important pillar of a free system and an irreplaceable tool of social progress.” It insists on the appreciation and education of people, the importance of transparency and honesty, the power of dialogue between enterprise and government, and the “duty” of “trying to keep a positive balance sheet”. He powerfully underlines the reforming role of the businessman: “Our respect, I would say our legitimacy in the eyes of the public is in direct relation to the role that we carry out in working to overcome social and economic inequalities of the country in which we work: companies are increasingly presented as a place of synthesis between a tendency towards maximum technical and economic progress and human tendencies towards achieving better working and living conditions.” Intense words. And still utterly true today.