OUR SPECIAL PROJECTS
We don’t despise material wealth, but one of the criteria we apply when we enroll someone in our Company is that we share the real values in life, the ones that enrich us and help us to continuously grow as individuals and as a group.
Therefore, since the first day of the foundation of Axia, one of the most stimulating sides of our work has been trying to diversify our activities through innovative projects that have allowed (and still allow) us to elevate us culturally and professionally as well as personally.
Last but not least, we strongly believe that these projects can generate a conspicuous added value for the clients who work with us and for all the people we meet during our work as well as for any other reason.
You will find here a collection of the most interesting experience we have made in the last years. We hope that they will captivate you as much as they have thrilled and still thrill us.
N.B. if you are interested in knowing more about the treated themes, we have added to each box some interesting documents you might examine.
Once in a while you need being lucky in life. And, as it often happens, we had not realized the consequences of our first meeting with Air Dolomiti, in 2007. We were contacted by them because one of us had acquaintances with some former air force pilots who happened to work in this small, dynamic airline that had just been acquired by Lufthansa.
The reason for being contacted by them was quite simple: in the civil aviation environment there two main sources where you can find new pilots.
The first source is the military aviation world: most of the people who pursue the military career, choose to do it because they want the possibility to fly on extremely performing planes, and because they are deeply attracted by flying. When, around the age of 40, the majority of military pilots stops flying, their typical reaction is to look for a job as a pilot in some civil airlines, where they can continue to pursue their passion.
The second source are the persons who are certified by the civil aviation schools. Many of these schools are very serious and train their pupils to one of the most complex operative activities a human being can face.
Air Dolomiti was a company who had hired many pilots coming from the air force, as it believed that the strictness of the military selection and the competences acquired during the military training were precious skills.
Lufthansa’s point of view was exactly the opposite: if you come from the military environment, you have somehow been conditioned by operative practices that conform to the civil aviation procedures with difficulty.
It is impossible to decide who is right and who is wrong in these questions: Lufthansa was the mother company and could impose his rules to Air Dolomiti, but Air Dolomiti wanted to look for a reasonable compromise and – thanks also to the willingness of Lufthansa – in the end a compromise was found.
We gave our contribution. Between 2007 and 2008 we often moved between Verona (headquarters of Air Dolomiti), Munich (one of the two hubs of Lufthansa) and Hamburg, where DLR (the German CNR, to whom Lufthansa delegates an important part of the pilot selection activities) has its headquarters.
In retrospect reaching a compromise was not so hard. The team of DLR psychologists carefully studied the instruments that Axia had developed for its activities in Italy, and above all, they decided that we had a more than adequate competence to select the pilots following the same quality standards required by Lufthansa.
We developed a selection procedure organized in three steps. All the pilots applying to Air Dolomiti would have to go through the following itinerary:
- an ability test battery delivered in English by DLR in Hamburg
- an assessment center conducted by Axia in Verona
- a flying test on a professional simulator
All the pilots who pass these three steps start a type rating course (the equivalent of a driving license course) on the Brasilian plane Embraer E-195 and after a few months they are ready to become fully operative co-pilots.
Working with Air Dolomiti and Lufthansa has been simply thrilling for us. The first reason is that the bar to overcome to be certified is set very high, therefore we have had to adopt the operative procedures of a domain in which nothing is left to chance. But this has not been the most demanding part of our work.
The real challenge was to pinpoint which characteristics we had to look for in the candidates who wanted to become civil pilots. A pilot (actually any member of the crew of a flying machine carrying passengers) has an incredible responsibility: on one side flying is an activity with an incredibly low incident rate, thanks to the almost paranoid attention to safety. But when it is necessary to manage an emergency, the role of the pilots (usually commander and co-pilot) is fundamental. Looking at this facts from the opposite point of view, 80% of the rare incidents in civil aviation are due to human errors.
For this reason it’s essential to understand which personality traits a civil pilots must have. After selecting a few hundreds pilots our ideas are quite clear, also because for the first time in our history we have registered amazingly statistic uniformities in the trials of the pilots who have successfully got through the selections. Another interesting characteristic of our work with Air Dolomiti is that none of our other clients (we work with some of them since 20 years) is so keen in evaluating the performances of its employees (also those who have been selected by Axia).
Thanks to the cross examinations of the feedbacks we receive from Air Dolomiti and from our work, we are now able to understand with a high reliability the characteristics that make a person a good pilot.
One of the most important (probably the most important) is the attitude towards teamwork. The aeronautic world has acquired from the military world one of the most important operative approaches: notwithstanding the rank, what really counts is the ability to operate with no hierarchical obstacles, so that any member of the crew (even the lowest in grade) can give an important contribution to the safety and the general wellness of the passengers. This philosophy has been defined in the acronym CRM (Crew Resource Management), and each year the civil airlines (Lufthansa and Air Dolomiti at their head) invest huge resources in continuously training all their flying crews.
We have also designed a certification process for the people of our team who work in the assessment centers where we select the pilots (lately we have started to headhunt them using the same instruments and methodologies we use for the “normal” clients).
In order to become part of the assessing team our colleagues must go through three steps:
- spend a full day flying with a crew, sitting in the cockpit behind the pilots, in order to become familiar with the daily life of the pilots
- tackle the DLR tests, to understand how difficult it is to overcome this step before participating to our assessment center (in the beginning approximately 70% of the applicants were rejected by the DLR: studying their tests, we have understood how to help the applicants in preparing for them; as a result, the successful rate has increased by 10/15%)
- participate to a session on the simulator, to understand which are the positive characteristics the simulator assessors look for.
Besides these enriching experiences, we have had the chance to know other realities such as the 8 Ottobre 2001 Foundation, born after the Linate incident, which has the goal to constantly increase the attention to the flying safety. We have been involved in a very interesting project with the aim to prevent (if this is possible) actions like the one enacted by Andreas Lubitz, co-pilot on the Germanwings flight 9525. All these themes have something to do with situation we encounter also with “normal” organizations.
During the years of our activity, we noticed that a few candidates who had received low scores in the intellective test batteries, demonstrated to possess a high level of intelligence, flexibility and creativity in the following, verbal steps of our assessment procedure. We have asked ourselves why this can happen, and we realized that the presence of learning disabilities (LD) could have been one of the potential reasons for this incongruity.
We got in touch with FID (Italian Foundation on Dyslexia, http://www.fondazionedislessia.it), an organization totally dedicated to help companies to understand the world of LD. FID helped us to understand this world: learning disabilities hamper skills that are often very important to perform average working tasks, such as reading, writing and do simple math operations. These limits have nothing to do with the real skills of people with LD: they succeed to compensate more than adequately their limits, developing collateral abilities, which can be very valuable in the working environment. The demonstration of this assumption lies in the list of well-known persons who have reached an important status in different areas of expertise: Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Richard Branson, Nelson Rockefeller, Henry Ford, William Hewlett, Ingvar Kamprad, Stephen Spielberg, Tom Cruise and many others.
We have learned that a significant minority of people is affected by one or more LD (up to 5% of the total population); most of all, we have learned that there are useful methods to help them to compensate their areas of weakness and to allow them to fully exploit their potential. A series of easy expedients and devices can enhance the performance of a LD affected person.
In order to be able to support these persons during the recruiting process, helping them to give their best, we have been the first Italian HR company that obtained the FID official certification, which enables us to assist both candidates and clients in overcoming the obstacles created by LD.
If you are interested in knowing more about these themes (which probably involve at least a part of your collaborators, colleagues, or even yourself), please contact us.
At the beginning of 2012 we were contacted by Mauro Solinas, then head of communication and external relationships of Contship Italia group. We have always thought that if a gene of positive communication exists, Mauro is a carrier of it. Actually, besides being a great communicator, Mauro is sincerely oriented towards the people wellness; therefor in his position he has always been a sponsor of activities that could bring added value to his colleagues, and consequently to the Company.
The end of 2011 was a very hard period for our Country: Mario Monti had been appointed Prime Minister to manage a situation that seemed out of control. The spread was very high, Italy needed a figure with a great international credibility, able to take important measures to give back stability to the system. Amid the many activities launched by the Monti government, one somehow touched AXIA, allowing us to make a unique experience. The government in fact decided to subsidize the private companies to offer a series of social services that in the past had been covered by the state, but now could not be sustained due to the scarce public resources. In order to convince the private companies to activate projects, especially in the critical sectors of health and education, the government offered important financial incentives to the companies which decided to offer welfare projects for their employees. In the following years, this phenomenon would become one of the hottest themes among the human resources specialists, and even now it affects the organizational behaviors in many companies.
Mauro Solinas, who has always been sensitive to these opportunities, obtained an important public funding to implement a welfare system at Contship headquarters in La Spezia. But, of course, between saying and doing there can be quite a long distance. The greatest difficulty was that it was necessary to respect a lot of bureaucratic obligations. Moreover, since all the offered services had to be available for all the employees, there was an important efficiency issue to deal with. At this point AXIA got into the dance.
Our first contact with these topics has been the design of organizational procedures, allowing the management of the workload generated by the interaction of the employees with the system. We understood that we were in front of a very interesting phenomenon and we asked ourselves if it was worth getting into it headfirst, since this activity was linked to our work and it could give us the opportunity to get in touch with interesting new realities.
We designed an innovative system of welfare management, which was reported on a whole page on Corriere della Sera because we had chosen to create a system based on locally based service suppliers, thus creating a strict tie between our clients and their surrounding environment. We have had the chance to work with very important Companies (besides Contship, of course, we would like to mention ABB, OMET, Fondazione Molina and Alès Groupe).
Now this experience has ended, but for many years it has allowed us to learn a lot, especially how important it is to forecast since the beginning the possible developments of a complex system.
In 2014 our friend Luigi Scollo earned a much deserved retirement, after having covered very high military positions, like the two years – 2009/2011 – spent as Military Director of the joint operations in Afghanistan (ISAF Joint Command) and the long period – 2012/2013 – as Military Counsellor of the Commander of the European Union Mission in Tripoli (Lybia).
If we were an anglo-saxon Country, companies would fight to get on board a person with such an experience. In Italy it is still difficult to understand how the experience of a soldier might be useful to an organization working on the free market, but in AXIA the passion and the knowledge we have of this environment make us particularly sensible to the huge capital of competence of the professionals who served with high profile positions in the armed forces.
For this reason, when Gigi came to visit us, telling that he would have liked to do something together, we didn’t miss the chance. In the past we had already done some experiences bringing Gigi as testimonial and trainer at some events with our customers: the positive results of these experiences pushed us to gather a group of friends and to create a start-up, which would bring to market the competences and experience of Gigi and of a group of soldiers belonging to various NATO military forces.
The main competence these professionals have is the capacity to coordinate very complex operations, facing very low predictability environments, where – and this is another very important trait usually soldiers have – the ability to understand very rapidly if something is going wrong, and fix it – has a vital importance.
We believe that this project has a good growth potential, as the first results we reached on the field are demonstrating.
Our adventure in the prison environment started, as many adventures do, almost casually. In the first half of 2015 Franco Starace, a dear friend who did our same job in a prestigious headhunting company, contacted us because he had been involved in a project in the Bollate prison. The theme on the table was: how to help the convicts who were approaching the end of their detention period to be reintegrated in the productive world. Easy task, one would say…
It was not easy at all, and since then a lot of things have happened. We tried to found a company with the aim to outsource some activities in the prisons, or to employ convicts. We can proudly say that we were able to reach some meaningful results.
Nevertheless, thanks to the people we met both in the prison and in the milieu that operates in this field, we have gathered many experiences that have helped us to grow and – in some cases – to actively help some people.
This experience has enabled us – if necessary – to understand how some people are lucky, while some other are not. We have had the confirmation that change is one of the hardest challenges a human being has to tackle in his life.
If you are interested to know this world better, please contact us, because we still have the will to help that world.
Once in a while we show out in the media: we can’t hide that we are very pleased by this fact!