The history




We were born as many other consultancy Companies: our “founding fathers” were working in Hay Group and one day they decided to become self-employed. Today we say: “create a spin off”, at that time things were defined in a much simpler way. The legend tells that one day, towards the end of 1989, while Alberto Citterio and Gianni Ghini were driving to Varese to visit a customer, Alberto suddenly asked Gianni something like: “What if we made our own Company?” You can imagine Gianni’s reply, since we are still here! Alberto and Gianni had already developed a long and fruitful career in the HR world, a career that had brought them to know each other in Hay, where they had been thinking to spend the last years of their working life. What could have pushed them to leave one of the most important consultancy companies to become self-employed? Many things: but the most important was probably the possibility to be extremely flexible, while not forgetting what they had acquired working in structured environments.


As it often happens in these situations, things turned out to be easier to be made than to be thought. After receiving the endorsement from a number of customers and hospitality from Endaxi, a company of friends, Alberto and Gianni opened an office after the Christmas vacations of 1990. Enrico Dalla Rosa joined them one and a half year later: it was his stroke of luck! He, too, was coming from a good consultancy Company, Mercuri Urval, where he had landed after a few years spent in the university as a researcher (he actually has never stopped teaching in University). The possibility to work with Alberto and Gianni was exciting: but the best was still to come! In fact, besides creating the core of a very solid professional organization, their encounter has developed in a close friendship which has enriched our lives. At that time Anna Rampi was our assistant: we remember her with fondness, even if in 1993 she decided to leave Milano a move to the lake of Garda to follow her husband (perhaps women will have the same rights as men in 3.000 years, as Adriana, Enrico’s life mentor, used to say)! After Anna, Ornella Basilio joined AXIA: a real queen of multitasking, she survived our increasing rhythms of work until she decided to follow her real passion and moved to an administrative job. Since then, our guardian angel is Elena Lai, who is like good wine: she gets better and better as the time passes. Moreover, she confirms another Italian saying: the best wine stays in the smaller barrels (Elena is not as tall as Kate Moss).


Since friendship is the common thread that interlaces AXIA history, Giorgio Villa’s arrival in the beginning of 1999 could only happen thanks to a friendship. Giorgio had been selected by Enrico as Sales Director of Braun in 1990: since then, a close friendship developed, and when Giorgio got tired of being a Commercial Director, he very gladly accepted the invitation to join AXIA. We have always told our customers that one of the main assets of AXIA is the group of friends/consultants who, during the years have collaborated with us. One of them, Giancarlo Panceri, is still working with the enthusiasm of a youngster. Silke Hoffmeister has become an important reference point for the group. We want to mention here all the others, too, who have worked with us for more than a decade: Carlo Martinetti, Nucci Marcucci e Gabriele Muraro, of the same generation of Alberto e Gianni and with the same desire to transfer into the consultancy business the professional competencies acquired in their brilliant career as managers. Cristina Tecchio, Paolo ScavinoGiacinta Genovese, Stefano Rossi, Chiara Buffarini, Franca Mora,  Luigi Scollo and Giovanni Gatto are “younger”, even if they, too, have acquired a solid experience in different companies and as consultants. A special memory goes to Sergio Pedrazzini, who gave us a lot, but whose smile we won’t be able to see anymore.


Last in order of appearance, but not least in order of importance, our youngsters. Life is full of paradoxes: it often gives you a lot while takes off something at the same time. One of the most challenging assignment we got in 1999 taught us that we were able to train and work with young talents, helping them to grow as professionals and (we hope) as individuals. Most of them have been Enrico’s pupils in UniversitàCattolica. Angelo RadiceMichele MasnaghettiGiorgia TrigariSilvia CarnovaliRoberta CalderoneMario ColomboMartina BulgariAlessandra TrivellatoValentina RagazziMarta MascheroniMattia CarugoAlberto NeggiaAlessandra VismaraFederico CavalloBenedetta TumatelliTatiana GigliaranoGiulia VillaMichele ArnaldiNoemi MartarelloMaria Luisa PalangeFabiana PagliaraOrsola MusellaGiorgia PassarellaClaudia PreteFrancesco DottiDavide BolliniKristian GennaroAicha OmraniAnh Dao DangBianca BellucciFrancesca CallegherChiara FabbriSofia ApriliMartino TavellaMartina GrittiSofia FogliaGiulia Gobetti and Alice Rimini have helped us to maintain the high quality standards that our customers have learned to appreciate, but most of all they have brought with them the cheerfulness and lightheartedness that is typical of their age. A consideration apart is deserved by Filippo Dal Mas, Marco Beretta and Giulia Marchetti: they joined Axia as “youngsters” but decided to stay with us, becoming a stable presence in our staff and within the best headhunters the market can offer.


On March 2, 2009, AXIA has given a decisive contribution to the birth of Arethé, the first spin-off company of UniversitàCattolica of Milano. This event has beena natural evolution of Enrico’s activity at the University: after his initial experiences as researcher in the faculty of Political Sciences, he has become Professor in the faculty of Sociology. Along the years, he has assigned and supervised the production of more than 40 master degree thesis, oriented towards the history of organizational thinking, and the management and development of human resources. Moreover, more than 60 university students have been introduced in the business world thanks to the stages AXIA has helped them to find. May of these stage experiences have become permanent jobs.


During the spring of 2012, Enrico Dalla Rosa receives a telephone call from his friend Giancarlo Monza of Novartis. Giancarlo tells him that Novartis has decided to support an interesting new venture: the State University of Genova, in fact, had just created Ianua-ISSUGE, a Higher Education Institute (similar to the Normale University of Pisa). The goal of this institute was the creation of a certain number of specialized majors involving the top students coming from the different courses offered by the University. Were we interested in participating to this project? The answer was easily predictable… The creation of ISB (Institute of Biomedical Sciences), the major Novartis had decided to sponsor, had been wanted by Professor Carlo Tacchetti. IBS has the goal to develop competencies and method in approaching scientific problems and in managing scientific projects in the biomedical field. After the first telephone call, Enrico finds out that Carlo is a passionate cyclist: consequently, the first working meeting lasted the four hours of a beautiful cycling workout in the backcountry of Liguria. Since then, a long way has been covered. AXIA has contributed and still contributes both to the educational and to the organizational parts of this splendid reality.


Yes: what does the word “AXIA” mean? When Alberto and Gianni decided to become self-employed, they had to face the issue of the Company name. The possibility to include their last names: “Ghini-Citterio Consulting” or “Citterio, Ghini& Associates” was immediately dismissed. What to do? They took a dictionary and started looking for a Greek-like word, (we all love the sea). It is said that the final shortlist included two names: “axìa” (value) and “kleptòs” (no need to disclose the meaning!). In the end, AXIA was chosen for two reasons: the impossibility to choose kleptòs Axìa is so hard to pronounce with the right accent (everybody, in the beginning, always call us axià or àxia), that when anyone starts calling us in the right way it means that we have conquered his heart. And then: why do we have such a complicated URL ( Why a domain that drives us crazy any time we have to spell it to give out our mail address? Although we were the first company in our sector to have a website, a Canadian company that was producing multimedia systems for naturalists (in other words, CDs containing the calls of all the North American birds!) had already occupied the “.com” domain, while an internet provider from Bergamo had already taken the “.it” domain. The “.org” domain was occupied by a software house in Padova. Incidentally, our Canadian “cousins” are now projecting and managing broadband networks and are listed at the stock exchange. Therefore with a huge mental effort we added the letters “hrm” (human resources management) to axia: we are still ashamed not to have been able to find a better solution.


The previous paragraphs bring us to the discovery of our “name sisters”. We have already mentioned the Canadians, the company from Bergamo and the one from Padova. For years we have received telephone calls from ladies who wanted to schedule an appointment to cut or to do their hair: we have then learned that in Milano Porta Genova there is a lady hairdresser whose name is AXIA. Then we have discovered that there is an AXIA coffee shop, too, in Milano. Finally, from 2001 to 2010 a huge placard at the km.8.00 of the Tangenziale Ovest of Milano (lakes direction) advertised the AXIA boiler: we are sure that with such a name it must have been a great hot water heater!