Team building in Italy: an interview with Alessandro Pitzalis - Il blog di Smart Eventi

Team building in Italy: an interview with Alessandro Pitzalis

Alessandro Pitzalis Team Building Smart Eventi
Written by Angela

This month we interviewed… ourselves! We have not gone mad, bear with me.
Smart Eventi is a young and rapidly evolving company with a tight and dynamic team, that constantly juggles a variety of commitments, offering a wide range of diverse services. Team Building projects have long been one of our top sellers and that is the province of Alessandro Pitzalis. That’s why today, seeking to offer you a more detailed view of this particular type of business event, we chose to interview him and tell you a bit more about our enterprise, in his words.

Team building is internationally popular, but it only started gaining traction in Italy over the past few years. How long ago did companies start showing an interest in this particular training tool? Are commissions for team building activities on the rise? What would you say are the reasons behind this surge in popularity?

Alessandro Pitzalis Team Building Smart Eventi fullTeam building activities have been popular in Italy for a few years now and they are used as an educational tool. Education has long been a major point of interest for Italian companies, that have invested in complex projects and eventually began to come round to the idea that experience is the best and most powerful educational tool of all. Over the past few years we saw companies investing more and more in team building activities over class-based learning, thus increasing the demand for our services.

What are the main goals of team building?

In Italy, most companies are still stuck on the idea of team building as a form of entertainment to bolster team spirit, rather than a vital part of a serious learning experience. Of course any team will be entertained by taking part in activities that break their daily office routine and relationships between team members might benefit from it too, but I am more inclined to say that most companies benefit from these activities in that their teams are literally built through these activities, whereas beforehand there is often scarcely any sense of team at all.

What are the ideal qualifications and personal attitude for someone wanting to work in team building?

Team building should be conducted by qualified company trainers, which is a broad definition, given the wide range of available activities. Usually, a trainer benefits from the aid of professional partners for specific activities. Nowadays, alas, it is not uncommon to come across self-proclaimed trainers with no qualifications at all.

What classes, courses, seminars or stages would you recommend to a young professional wanting to pursue this career?

First and foremost, I’d advise them to read up on advanced professional learning and education. Several universities currently offer classes on this subject, usually within the context of event management courses, but nothing is more important or effective that hands-on experience and direct learning from experienced professionals.

Would you say that this profession integrates well with other specialties within a team? Or is it preferable to have a task force dedicated exclusively to team building?

Team building is often a part of a complex training project, that might include incentive travel and meeting planning. I started out as an all-round organiser or business events, including corporate dinners and meetings for which I would take care of everything, from location scouting to planning. I then decided to focus almost exclusively on team building activities. My former experiences definitely add to the value of the projects I am now able to design, but I heartily second Smart Eventi’s choice of having a team of dedicated specialists with one focus, rather than jacks of all trades.

Which team building activities are most popular among the companies that seek your services?

It largely depends on the time of year. I’d say that during the fair season outdoor activities are most popular, while, during winter and autumn, companies tend to be partial to performative team buildings or activities that involve food and cooking.

What are the most innovative activities that you have had the opportunity to organise for your clients?

I’d say the most innovative and original activities we have experimented with are the ones that involve actual building of objects and tools that can be actually used by team members (thus assessing the quality of the building process itself). Cardboard boat building is always a favourite and was particularly popular in 2016, but we have expanded our offer in this department and now offer roman chariot building and bike building workshops. It is particularly entertainment to see managers and employees proudly riding their creations during the final competition.

How do you devise new team building activities and formats?

New formats are often born of a client’s request, which prompts us to come up with a custom-based solution, if the client’s need can’t be met by any of the pre-existing activities in our portfolio. Or it can just be a spark, an intuition. Keeping up with the times is essential: change is ever present and ongoing and we need to be constantly curious in order to keep our minds open to new ideas.

Why should a company require your services?

Companies turn to us because markets worldwide have consistently endorsed team building as a useful activity, that is known to benefit the teams that try it. It is a bit like asking “why do we all buy smartphones?” Most of us have one because we need to be connected constantly, because that’s what society demands of us. Therefore, year after year, companies have started realising that offering their employees this type of experience was likely to boost productivity in a much more dramatic way than, say, 4 hours of class-based learning, particularly on an emotional and experiential level.

What kind of companies is more likely to invest in team building activities?

We have the good fortune of working with companies operating in a variety of industries and with internationally established brands. Our greatest pride comes from the staggering amount of positive post-event feedback that we get and the fact that our clients keep coming back and increasing in number. We pride ourselves on never taking anything for granted and look into each and every detail of every event we plan as if we were working on it for the first time. Constantly paying attention to everything is the key to success.

Start planning your next team-building activity now!
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Publisher and co-founder of the communication agency Fiore & Conti Gbr. She lives and works in Berlin.

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