Ferrari: A Winning Culture

Former Chief Product Officer and SVP Production Processes at Ferrari

Why is this interview interesting?

  • Core values that drive the culture at Ferrari and how it compares to other luxury auto manufacturers

Executive Bio

Ervino Riccobon

Former Chief Product Officer and SVP Production Processes at Ferrari

Ervino has 24 years experience in the auto industry. He spent 18 years at Mckinsey as a consultant in the advanced industry practice with the majority of his time in the automotive segment. After working with Ferrari throughout his time at McKinsey, the luxury automaker created a new role that concentrated on creating cost competitiveness with responsibilities of purchasing and manufacturing efficiency. Ervino saw the company transition from a business within a large mass automaker to a standalone publicly listed luxury sport automaker. He was one of a small team of Executive Officers at Ferrari during a crucial period of the company's history. Read more

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Interview Transcript

How would you describe the culture?

I think the culture is the culture of the winner. People are there to win. So there is no compromise. The strength of the winner is the strength of delivering no compromises and being able to shape the industry. Altogether forgetting what competitors are doing, because you know that you shape the pace, the behaviour and the trends of the customer and the market, and that all the others will need to follow you. It's not arrogance, it's the sense of really shaping the industry.

So you never looked at competitors' strategy or performance?

No, 'you never look at competitors' is the wrong statement. It's that you don't care whether competitors are doing different things. If you have a clear idea in mind, you don't really care whether the others are following you or not, whether the others have a different point of view or not. Of course, you do care about what they do and the ideas that they have, but you are not afraid to have a contrarian view because you have the consciousness, you have the self-confidence and you can shape the market around that. You know the others will follow inevitably, because you are so much bigger and you are so much stronger than all the others. You can afford to be the leader. That means that you need to deliver above and beyond your competitors every single time. That's the challenge and that creates a sense of ownership. You collectively know that you can only serve if you stay ahead of all the others. There's a clear sense of that.

How does management encourage that pressure on delivery but also the pressure to innovate and be at the front of design and shaping the market?

It's clear. In order to be a winner, you need to have the most beautiful, the best performing, the most fun to drive car in its segment. Otherwise the car does not pass the test and you don't develop it. You can only be the number one, If you are not worse than any competitor, on any of those dimensions. It's an easy bar. You need to be better than all the others on those three key dimensions: style, performance and pleasure to drive. So if one of the three does not fit or you feel that others are better, then you need to improve. That's very clear. So there's no compromise. There are also very clear rules to avoid compromise. For example, you can't cheat on materials, you can't cheat on noise, on sound, like the others are doing. If you tell your customers that everything is in aluminum, then you can't have the surface in aluminum and the structure in plastics, because you told the customer it's aluminium, even if they don't see it. So, if the sound is the sound, you can't do what Porsche or others do: you can't have an amplifier. The sound should come naturally from the car. Nobody's questioning that. So it's a pretty obsessive rule but everybody agrees on it. Nobody questions that these are the values that make you stand out from the crowd. It's pretty unique.

How would you compare this culture at Ferrari versus other more premium OEMs that you may have come across in your consulting days?

I think that there is no comparison whatsoever. All the others that I have seen are competing against others and they don't try to stand out from the crowd. The only one who has exactly the same thought might be Rolls Royce. Rolls-Royce is in the luxury non-sport segment, it has the same story, although much smaller of course. They have the same attitude of shaping what comfort means, what style means, what ultimate luxury means for cars that are not sporty. So, they are in a completely different type of segment but have the same attitude. All the others are one or two notches below. They can't really compete.

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