From Realtà Mapei International n° 79 - 3/4/2020

Romano Prodi: that day when Adriana Spazzoli asked me to be her tutor for her degree thesis

The last time I met Adriana, who was clearly suffering and in pain, was at Giorgio’s funeral service in Milan Cathedral.

It was almost as if she wanted to follow him (as, sadly, it turned out to be the case) to complete their long life together as a family, at work and in the social commitments they shared.

At that moment, I suddenly remembered when Adriana first came to me, almost fifty years ago, to ask me to be her tutor for her degree thesis, which she wrote extremely well with the same verve and enterprise she showed throughout her entire life.

As almost inevitably happens, we did not really see each other much after she completed her degree, but a few years later I discovered she was Giorgio’s wife and business partner and after that I frequently got the chance to follow the development and progress of her business career. And I was also delighted to find that Adriana often referred to her time at university as fundamentally important for her later work.

She was part of a group of students who enrolled in the small faculty of Political Sciences that had just been set up at Bologna University and were able to take part in lectures and seminars that were not just only innovative but also based on constant and very close relations with the other students on the course and the teaching staff.

The kind of teamwork that characterised her entire career both before and after she joined Mapei, where she played a key part in the in-house growth and intricate external relations of a business which branched out from Italy across all the different continents and whose constant process of innovation led it into all the various realms of the building industry: from ceramic tiles to large concrete structures, wall coatings and even dams across the world’s biggest rivers.

Her work in marketing and communication meant she had to deal with all the different manufacturing plants built right across the globe to meet the construction industry’s very specific market requirements.

Although she had to travel worldwide, she never forgot her Italian roots and her close ties with both the region where Mapei was originally founded and the one where it achieved its first successes.

Hence her great love of Sassuolo Football Club and her social responsibility work as the President of Sodalitas Foundation.

Both these activities allowed her to express her sense of civic duty in very concrete terms.

Taking Sassuolo into the top flight of Italian football was not just a great sporting achievement, it was also a tribute to the city that lay behind Mapei’s transformation from a small business into one of the world’s leading players in the industry.

As President of Sodalitas, she also got the chance to commit herself to social work serving the region were Mapei was founded and the entire nation of Italy, where her heart and mind were always truly at home even during those years when most of her work took her beyond our nation’s borders.

It is now up to the younger generation to continue Mapei’s elaborate but highly satisfying operations in economic and social life. In a world that is becoming increasingly complex this is no easy task, but it will certainly be made less difficult by the kind of teamwork that Adriana and Giorgio taught them. 

Realtà Mapei Tags: #neverstoppedalling

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