Conversation with Paolo Russo, Head of Technical Services & Industrial Asset Development at IBSA Group

06 January 2021

Passion and dedication: these are the two distinctive qualities of IBSA employees. Passion means loving what you do, feeling part of a ‘collective’ devoted to a shared mission, namely improving the quality of people’s lives. Dedication, on the other hand, means constant commitment, regardless of ‘circumstances’. Paolo Russo, Head of Technical Services & Industrial Asset Development, describes his work at IBSA as follows: “Gaining first-hand experience allows you to know the strengths and weaknesses of everything you create and makes it easier for you in all future tasks. That’s the beauty of building factories and knowing that new products will be manufactured there.”

You head the team that builds IBSA’s factories. How do you address this daily challenge?

We try to work as a team. Our department includes complementary and passionate talents, whose personal skills comprise not only technical skills, but also problem-solving ability, curiosity and reliability. We are an agile team, consisting of a few supportive and united people, which draws strength from everyone’s deep inner motivation and dedication, as well as from our company's regular planned investments. Indeed, when necessary, IBSA proactively invests in both equipment and staff. The overall growth plan has been consistently and constantly developed over time. My experience at IBSA started in 1997 and from the outset I realised that I had joined a company whose strategic objective was to create a vertical business model, covering all the product stages from development to production. Facing this challenge therefore means designing and building efficient production departments. Twenty-three years ago, the only factory in Ticino was in Massagno, IBSA’s historic headquarters, however the company already had a deep-rooted expansionist approach and we immediately started to tackle major expansion projects, culminating in the renovation of an entire district that is now known as CorPharma.

What does it mean to you to have created an entire district for IBSA, a company that is deeply rooted in its local area, but is aiming to expand worldwide?

Corpharma began in 2002-2003 with the purchase of the land. It is a complex project that encapsulates IBSA’s determination to bring all its departments together under a single roof. The key words that define this project are innovation and sustainability. This is because, whether building new factories or completely renovating obsolete plants, the range of applicable solutions is open and receptive to innovation, without the risk of impacting existing production activities. Starting with the building’s civil envelope, as was the case with Cosmos, a production plant in the IBSA Corpharma district, the construction can be designed to be energy-efficient by making optimal use of general resources. Last but not least, Cosmos also involves patience: every aspect of the pharmaceutical sector is highly regulated and it therefore takes time to complete the operation.

However, a company is made up of more than just factories. What role does the ‘human’ factor play in your work?

I would say that it is fundamental because over time the expansion of the factories has been accompanied by an increase in staff: the maintenance team is constantly being enlarged, reviewed and supported by an engineering team and a calibration and qualification team. Generally speaking, what sets us apart as a team is our no-holds-barred attitude, which translates into a constant desire to tackle increasingly difficult challenges. This approach is combined with flexibility, adaptability, planning and passion, which have proved to be indispensable skills in the company’s growth, consolidating the team spirit among the various teams. A great deal also depends on ‘mentality’: our collective inclination towards design has also increased the proactive mentality of the whole company. To manage projects, you need to be able to carefully plan, carry out work, assess its progress and, if necessary, re-plan, implementing a virtuous circle of activities that also benefit other areas. In short, a growth model applied to all departments.

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