Several times we wrote about the value of unconventional professional paths: today I want to tell you what I have learned from my own experiences and how I created my work method. In 1995 I graduated in Information Sciences, a course of study that might, rather superficially, be considered related to journalism or the media. In fact, it was part of the Department of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences, and nowadays this degree course is more properly called Computer Science and Technologies. I loved scientific subjects when I was at school, so when this Faculty opened in my hometown of Cesena in 1989 I grasped this ideal opportunity, as I had become a mum just a few months earlier. From the start of my university career, there were telltale signs that my professional and personal path would be singular. My professors commented, ‘you are rather unusual for a computer scientist’, probably because I was sociable and out-going in a world populated by very lovely but solitary ‘nerds’ whose lives revolved around technology and not human relations. Moreover, I loved designing interface with the user rather than being overly interested in what took place inside the microprocessors. My post-graduate work experience led me to favour interpersonal communication over information technology – but are we sure that these concepts are so different?
Everything helps to build skills and abilities
If we look up the word ‘communication’, we will see it is linked to transmitting a message and the exchange of information. One of the exams I did at university was actually called ‘Information Theory’ and from this discovered that the complexity of transmitting and receiving messages is based on mathematical rules. If this exchange is complex for machines, just imagine what it is like for humans who are regulated by a ‘software’ of which they are often unaware and which is constantly evolving. It would seem that understanding each other is sometimes little short of a miracle!
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Programming computers has, therefore, helped me to deal with the complexity of communication, enabling me to identify a few fundamental rules that can be applied to people too.
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Even the demanding ‘Statistics’ examination (which I had to re-do three times) allowed me to base marketing evaluations, required later in my professional career, on precise analytical skills. Hence, the first pillar of my work method (and life) is: everything will turn out to be useful, each experience contributes to creating our precious baggage of skills and abilities and enhances our talents.
Break down problems and define your work steps
Sometimes, we are faced with problems or tasks that are so complex that we feel unable to tackle them. A goodstrategy I learned during my computer studies is to divide the final objective into simpler and more easily achievable goals. When I take on a big project I always divide it into small and specific steps, organized in a flowchart (my IT character showing through).
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If possible, I start from the simplest parts, as success here will imbue me with the enthusiasm to face increasingly complex objectives.
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Breaking down a project/problem into specific and measurable actions also allows other people to become involved in the implementation process, allowing the group to work in a uniform, planned and focused way. When doing the calculations required for my thesis I used the mainframe of the Cineca in Bologna, a computerized brain with multiple processors working in parallel on the same problem to simplify and speed up the complexity of calculation: a perfect example of the power of teamwork.
Work using successive approximations
The work on my thesis (dedicated to Numerical Analysis, a particular branch of applied mathematics) also taught me the value of successive approximations. I often use this work method in my current profession, as it permits us to solve a problem by applying the same reiterated procedure in successive phases. When I am creating something, I do not immediately target a perfect result. Initially, I prepare a rough copy, then I revise it again and again until I reach a final form that is as satisfying as possible for me and for those who will have to use it. For example, when preparing a commercial email I write a first draft as it comes instinctively, then I reread it a first time to refine the concepts and structure; I then analyze it to evaluate the effectiveness of the words and to improve clarity and impact. When I am finally satisfied, I send it. This method helps me to overview the whole, refining the result in light of the overall perspective and not a single sentence. When discussing negotiation in the classroom, I first outline the different phases of a sale, then I go on to analyze each one on its own, taking care to stay within a clear and defined framework.
My years of study have therefore merged into my activity as a trainer and consultant, informing the work method I use and the contents we share with businesses and professionals in Passodue. As a child I dreamed of becoming a scientist who would create new inventions; today – by combining experience gained in both my work and study and mixing my skills and competencies with those of others – I have helped to create a new ethical sales method. So, in this way, I have fulfilled one of my dreams.
[Dedicated to our friend Pietro Evangelisti, with whom we shared studies, projects and dreams.]
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