On November 23rd, 2023, the Master in Corporate Finance (MCF) class had the remarkable opportunity to engage with Luca Passa, Chief Financial Officer at SNAM. This meeting wasn’t interaction only: rather, it was an immersive learning experience that shed light on the evolving and intricate role of the CFO in a complex and international business environment.
Luca Passa's journey is a narrative of ambition, expertise, and global exposure.
Born in 1973 in Rome, he embarked on his financial career in London, marking his presence in high-profile institutions like Cantor Fitzgerald, Lehman Brothers, and Morgan Stanley. After a quick experience in Fincantieri, where he was involved in its IPO process, he joined first ENEL and then Endesa. At the beginning of 2023, Mr. Passa was appointed CFO of SNAM.
During the meeting with the MCF students, Mr. Passa emphasized the transformation of the CFO role: from traditional functions like interfacing with the Board and planning, to more involved strategic decision-making. He underscored the emerging focus areas for modern CFOs: sustainability, digitalization, and data analytics. All of them are pivotal in navigating current global economic landscapes.
The geopolitical landscape, particularly the Russian invasion of Ukraine, was a focal point. Passa shared insights on how these global events prompted turmoil in gas distribution, underscoring SNAM's adaptability in managing new gas facilities and storage amidst fluctuating supply routes. He outlined his company’s sophisticated approach to protection of critical infrastructures, both from physical and cyber-attacks.
The conversation then shifted to SNAM’s hydrogen strategy. Mr. Passa described the company’s pioneering role in the development of hydrogen infrastructure in Europe, namely the “Southern Corridor” initiative, which is a significant step towards a green hydrogen ecosystem. Furthermore, he emphasized the company's commitment to certifying its infrastructure for green hydrogen, while adhering to stringent international standards.
Another relevant point is the commitment to sustainability. Mr. Passa highlighted the significant carbon capture and storage initiatives, which position the company as a leader in environmental stewardship in the energy sector.
Passa also touched on the energy sector's vulnerability to macroeconomic shifts, emphasizing the importance of strategic financial planning in an industry heavily reliant on capital expenditure. He noted how SNAM's revenue is closely linked to regulatory decisions and interest rates, highlighting the complex interplay between finance and policy.
Mr. Passa stressed the importance of agility and emotional intelligence, particularly in responding to rapid changes and uncertainties. He also emphasized the company’s strategic focusion internal growth and infrastructure development, especially in the Italian market - more than EUR 10bn of investments planned in the next 5 years - as a response to contemporary global challenges.
Finally, Mr. Passa provided a comparative analysis of career paths in investment banking versus the corporate sector, offering the class a comprehensive view of the cultural and operational differences between these two worlds.
To sum it all up, Luca Passa's interaction with the MCF class was way more than an educational session: it was a deep dive into the strategic mind of a CFO steering a multinational company through times of trouble. His experience and insights into risk management, digital transformation, sustainability, and the complexities of the global economy offered an invaluable perspective to the future finance leaders. Mr. Passa's tenure at SNAM embodies the critical role of visionary leadership and adaptability in navigating the ever-changing landscape of Corporate Finance.
SDA Bocconi School of Management