Antonio Bogi prides himself on his ability to bring a unique blend of leadership, flexibility, and sense of humor to any situation in the workplace. After more than two decades in human resources (HR), Antonio has a track record of building, developing and inspiring business leadership and HR teams across multiple continents. He has also supported full-cycle M&A initiatives starting with initial analysis through due diligence, integration, post-merger integration and change management strategies.
Today, Antonio is the Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Ferrero North America. After more than 70 years, Ferrero has grown into the third largest confectionery company in the world by creating products loved by generations. This includes Ferrero Rocher®, Nutella®, Tic Tac®, Butterfinger®, and other legendary chocolate brands.
For our latest Faces of HR profile, we sat down with Antonio to discuss how he got his start in the industry, his biggest influence, as well as his thoughts on how company leaders can make HR a top priority within their organization. According to Bogi, it’s all about trust and strategic partnerships.
“As HR professionals, we need to first gain the trust of other business leaders by showing that, not only do we have HR skills, but that we understand how these skills support business goals,” he recently shared with HR Daily Advisor. “From there, we can work to earn a more influential role on the Board to ensure that people are always central in any business decision.”
In our latest Faces of HR, meet Antonio Bogi.
How did you get your start in the field?
My first job was at a consultancy firm in Italy where I worked in recruiting and training. I was fortunate to have had a mentor who inspired me to stay curious and take on new tasks. Soon enough, my career was growing and as I got more experience, my passion for helping and connecting people ultimately encouraged me to build on my skills and dive deeper into the HR field.
Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?
At the beginning of my career, I was fortunate to have had two strong mentors who played an important role throughout my journey. While they were two very different people, they both shared the belief that human resources plays a fundamental role not only in helping people, but in helping the business excel.
I remember early on one of my managers at Ferrero insisted on taking us all on store tours where he would ask about business P&L numbers, competitors’ positioning, details about commercial promotion. I quickly learned that, even as HR, I needed to understand gross margin, net sales, and many other numbers if I wanted to first understand the business and, then, succeed in supporting it. Fully understanding the business and the organization is fundamental for HR to add real value and help the business move forward. This knowledge has been incredibly valuable throughout my career, and I’ve tried to instill this same perspective in the HR teams that I’ve helped build.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I’ve spent a significant amount of time working internationally. Prior to my role in North America, I spent time working in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Singapore, and China. I was very lucky to be exposed to many places, people, cultures, and experiences along the way. What I’m most proud of is my ability to adapt HR strategies and converge local and global efforts to achieve business results even in most challenging and disruptive situations.
Early in my career at Ferrero, I worked in our Luxembourg HQ and then moved to Singapore where I contributed to the quick and strong development of the Asia Pacific area. As the main focus of the Asia Pacific area was development in China, I relocated to Shanghai, while keeping my Asia Pacific responsibility and adding on direct HR Operations in China. There, unlike other international roles, it was more challenging for me to understand the context because I did not speak Mandarin. It took me awhile to understand appropriate business customs and phrases (and that yes could sometimes mean no). This made it more difficult to adapt my strategy as a manager. I had to put more effort into learning how to manage conversation and picking up on non-verbal cues.
After almost seven years in Asia, my managers at Ferrero asked me to move to North America. Once again, I faced a challenging learning experience. I quickly learned North America is a very different market with different consumers, different trade, and media strategies and, most importantly, the workplace experience, workforce dynamics and diversified culture were new to me. I had to learn a new environment once again to effectively support the business at a time of rapid organic and inorganic growth.
Where do you see the industry heading in five years? Or are you seeing any current trends?
I believe that HR automation, as well as people-based analytics to push business results and organizational flexibility forward will be a main focus for the industry in the short mid-term.
Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?
Start understanding the complexities and the main challenges of your business. These skills will help you become more effective in your role. Try seeking out mentors that are operating in interesting or unique ways and explore how they get things done.
As we know, social knowledge is critical in our field, and we can always build on this. Ask why people do what they do; what motivates them and what are they looking to achieve?
I like to remind people to use every opportunity as a learning moment; and try to approach life with an open heart, eyes, and ears. Everyone has a different story that we can gain from.