Impact Stories

Talent and sustainability at Autostrade per l’Italia

The impact

Recruiting new talent and upskilling current personnel, funneling resources into training, measuring technical and managerial competences with an eye to continuous learning, and long-term sustainability. Autostrade per l’Italia has set these near-future goals, and picked SDA Bocconi School of Management to partner with in pursuing them.   


Autostrade per l’Italia is in the business of building and operating transportation infrastructure, an indispensable aspect of this country’s social and economic development.  In this context, sustainability represents the driver of continual, cross-cutting improvement that generates value and guarantees long-term results.  


Against this backdrop, in 2020 SDA Bocconi set up an extensive management training program with the aim of aligning strategic objectives with individual growth paths of current and future talents at Autostrade per l’Italia. 

The numbers 

Company: Autostrade per l’Italia 

Industry: infrastructure and transportation 

Highways under management: 3,020 km  

Service stations: 217 

Regions served: 15 

Network investments: €25 billion 

What’s the story

The focus of Autostrade per l’Italia for the coming years is an organizational transformation based on consumer needs and market evolutions. To fulfill this strategic vision, a new managerial approach is being adopted that’s oriented on nurturing a talent culture. So, this transformation extends beyond the organizational-strategic aspects of the company to impact personnel too, with a surge in turnover and a wave of new hires coming from an array of business backgrounds. But successfully recruiting and attracting high-potential people is just the first step.  Next comes knowing how to manage them over time, recognize their value and nurture them as appropriate, retain them and guide them on their growth paths. To do all this, management training can be a useful tool, both a concrete contribution to realizing this new strategic concept, a way to shore up the skills of talented people, and a tangible demonstration of the company’s intention to invest in their growth. Beyond this, training can also be an opportunity for teambuilding, a chance for people from different backgrounds to share their experiences. 


“Off-Road Future Leaders,” the program that SDA Bocconi developed for Autostrade per l’Italia, is the manifestation of the company’s desire to actively invest in recruiting and growing talent. Participants are current employees tapped by the company to be prepped to champion change mainly by modelling this attitude through their daily behavior.  These future leaders get a highly engaging, personalized training experience. Every individual is encouraged to step up, get involved in the organization, and embrace near-term strategic objectives. This idea is to foster a connection between the organization and each professional through a leadership model that is consistent with shared values, bringing employer branding and talent retention to the next level. 


The training program in general management consists of seven modules, each three days long, for a total of 21 classroom days. Topics include business basics from the context in question to resource management to more complex drivers of change. Although the course is structured specifically around the transportation industry, it expands to broader horizons by offering participants examples from other sectors as well. Company management also takes part, both by presenting business projects based and built on real requirements of Autostrade per l’Italia, and spending time in the classroom, providing valuable networking opportunities for colleagues with a variety of roles and experiences.  


What emerged during this program was the need to offer a training path specially dedicated to managers in positions of responsibility, who are expected to demonstrate greater expertise and assertiveness in business and people management. To extend the training to different management levels, SDA Bocconi developed two programs revolving around a strategic issue today: sustainability. 


The first training path, “Sustainability 360°,” targets managers, executives and high-potential individuals in the organization. Offered to 150 participants, it’s structured in three modules presented in three days, covering various topics: corporate sustainability, climate challenge, and energy transition, the circular economy and infrastructure, and performance and financial markets in relation to sustainability. This program aims to give managers the tools they need to enhance their insight into sustainable practices. The idea is to build an environment that fosters learning, exploring the issue of circularity, and analyzing the dynamics of circular markets, virtuous production cycles, and raw material reutilization. Ultimately, program participants will learn how to combine economic, environmental and social sustainability by analyzing and identifying specific targets, and through sustainability reporting, also as it ties into organizational targets.  


The second training path, “High Level ESG Training,” is dedicated to newly-appointed ESG Ambassadors. These people work in various areas of the organization to develop and implement initiatives outlined in the Sustainability Plan, in line with the company’s ESG strategies. This ad hoc, three-module program, reserved for around twenty managers, has seen the ongoing involvement of participants thanks to the experiential, interactive training approach that continues outside of the classroom. It’s a growth path structured around the challenge model which gives managers all the tools they need to carry out their strategic roles, guided by their understanding of what it means to act sustainably (both on an individual and organizational level), validating the strategic importance of the issue.   




As Professor Andrea Dossi tells us, “The ubiquity of sustainability training and the quality of the ESG Ambassadors demonstrate the company’s commitment to managing value creation for stakeholders and for society as a whole, with the aim of achieving a profound cultural change.” 


“Now we find ourselves taking up the 2024-2029 plan, a second wave of activity […] the challenges are different this time around, and in some ways they’re more complex. So we have to imagine what the future will be like,” says Roberto Tomasi, CEO of Autostrade per l’Italia. “And a group like Autostrade per l’Italia will inevitably be taking the lead, along with our managers, in imagining this future.”  

What’s next?

  • In a competitive context where complexity and uncertainty are proliferating, effective organizational development is a difficult but necessary process for many companies. Along with these challenges, new tools are now available to tackle them: new models and computational methods that can be integrated into big data analysis, programming languages, data-driven instruments and indicators. 
  • For Autostrade per l’Italia, a new path could represent a modern, state-of-the-art toolkit to make the corporate structure easier to understand, to enhance process efficiency, and to generate more value for the company. 
  • The highly personalized training path, created especially for Autostrade per l’Italia, is a balanced blend of theory and practice, following a toolkit approach custom designed to address the real challenges that organizations are facing today, and that participants bring to the classroom. 

Talent and sustainability at Autostrade per l’Italia