Umberto Quintavalle

28 August, 2019
Umberto Quintavalle


He inherited his family's entrepreneurial DNA.  His grandfather founded and managed Magneti Marelli, his father, the Autobianchi of the legendary Bianchina, and he himself built his business in a sector that is in full evolution, temporary staffing. He made it a specialized company with 360 degrees in human resources. Umberto Quintavalle, Founder and Chairman of  Quanta, recounts his experience, starting from the origins. 

How did your business idea come about?

“A little from the youthful dreams of the post-university, a little from the DNA inherited from my Family including my Grandfather, a Knight of Labor who, together with the Marelli Family and Fiat, founded and managed  Magneti Marelli for 37 years, and my Father who, among other startups, together with Fiat and Pirelli, founded and initially held the Autobianchi of the legendary Bianchina. After graduating from Bocconi, I quickly gained experience, both in Italy and abroad as a manager. Then, with two friends a little crazy like me, the entrepreneurial departure formed an engineering company at less than thirty years of age. We Integrated with an industrial company in the plastic chemical sector that supplied the automotive sector with an absolutely innovative and very complicated product. Having transferred both of these activities to an American competitor, I immediately accepted a proposal to share the entrepreneurial risk with another partner in an innovative company in a sector that in 1997 was called Temporary Work. Today, Quanta gives almost 6,000 people a varied job every day. In 1997 I set up the Quanta Club in Milan, a multi-sports facility on 62,000 square meters of great quality and with many initiatives; at the same time, I brought the Milan Hockey Club, which I actually refounded, to win inline hockey the beauty of 22 titles, including eight championships in 24 years. "

Does graduating from Bocconi University give a certain guarantee?

"Absolutely. Just as much today as back then: I remember that as soon as I finished my exams [I had not yet graduated] I had received half a dozen proposals, some of which from notable companies, who wanted to interview me. It is my understanding now that 90% of Bocconi graduates find a job within one year of graduation. However,  like any other university, Bocconi teaches to become good managers, not entrepreneurs."

Is education alone enough to become an entrepreneur?

"There is a substantial difference between having management abilities as the result of your sheer will power, education and discipline and the entrepreneur's flair. It's a matter of natural talent and of knowing what is the one good opportunity amongst ten that may be presented to you. Then, a good entrepreneur must be able to understand when a good business initiative can be successful and how to make it take off without having to commit a huge amount of resources for years to come, as ones such resources are exhausted, including the financial ones, you are at risk of a painful downfall."

And then what does it take?

"Talent, wisdom in defining entrepreneurial risk, attributes, and the finances behind it. Also, adequate and stable access to credit, which is what still hinders many good initiatives even today, despite improved general conditions."

Can you be an entrepreneur today?

“In my opinion, yes, because of scholarships, or banks that support you with funding. The Government itself is willing to invest in intelligent startups. But he must be a credible person. I came from a family with a known and respected name. From the first day, I had two banks that sponsored me and took my hand despite having very little liquidity from me."

What is success for you?

"There are several expressions that can be used to define success. It depends on the points of view and the individual's specific expectations. Personally I never understood the word success in the common meaning. More than medals, money, visibility, and consensus, I feel, at 72 years old, reasonably realized and in balance with myself for having built serious, lasting things. Many of which, my family and I have taken advantage and benefited from, as well as others around the world.”

What does ethical success mean to you?

"Ethical for me represents the respect you owe yourself and others towards certain large scale moral values and principles that you believe can be the North Star for civil coexistence towards a better world. Those are absolute values and principles, which are non negotiable from time to time and cannot be adapted based on varying circumstances. That is a path and a philosophy not always easy to respect."

What advice would you give to a young person who wants to pursue an entrepreneurial career?

“To be convinced of what he wants to undertake, ready to hold on in the difficult moments that always arise, and to be covered by sure finance. I learned that you can't sleep for two reasons at night; Not if things go wrong commercially or economically, because a good manager can remedy them, but if you don't have enough finances to pay salaries to employee’s pension funds, and your suppliers."

Is it better to have a secure career with a company or be an entrepreneur?

"It depends on the attitudes and what you can or want to do in life. If you have limitations, like a child or parent to care for, going to a trade where you have to work twelve hours a day is not very wise to emerge."

What mistakes should one avoid in order to achieve a successful business project?

"Avoid bad fellow soldiers. Choose very well the partners and collaborators that you will work with. Today, they are the most important assets of the companies. To take the long step according to one's leg.”

What are the 2018 numbers of Quanta, What upcoming expansion projects do you have planned, and Where will the Staff Research and Selection focus be?

“We are close to 6,000 people who put on the Quanta brand daily and go to work in Italy as well as in 5 other countries. [3 of which are in Europe and 2 in the Americas] Between direct-hire and contract to direct,  the turnover will approach 200 million euros. The main areas of activity are the Placement of candid for an indefinite period, Training, the Service Contract, and Outplacement.

Since we already have good balance sheets, both capital and financially very solid and with incremental turnover in double figures, therefore absolutely satisfactory, and since we are 100% a Family Company we have long decided to move forward with investments focused on our internal employees, on cost cutting, on efficiencies [in particular on the greater use of platforms and technologies], on better communication and image capacity, and on better use of existing databases and software. This applies to both Italian and foreign companies.

 As for Research and Selection of Personnel, Quanta is not a generalist company, but a specialist one with specific divisions particularly in Aerospace, Shipbuilding, ITC & Telco, Energy, Automotive, and Construction sectors. These are therefore mainly the sectors where we excel, having a database of more than 20,000 candidates for our job offers, many of which already have work experience with our leading client companies. The degree of appreciation on the part of the user societies of our young people is very high; A sign that we have so many really smart young men and women who honor our country with their work, their seriousness, and their professionalism."

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