"Expanding Your Business in a Time of Crisis:" Trustee Ali Reza Arabnia
On April 8, 2014, John Cabot University, in collaboration with the Institute for Entrepreneurship hosted the inspiring lecture “Expanding Your Business in a Time of Crisis” by Dr. Ali Reza Arabnia.
Born and raised in Teheran, Dr. Arabnia graduated from John Cabot University in 1983 and has been a JCU Trustee since 1998. He has distinguished himself by his great generosity and wise counsel to the Administration throughout the years.
Geico S.p.A, the company led by Dr. Arabnia, specializes in turnkey original coating systems and plants for the vehicle industry.
“You need a qualitative approach for quantitative results,” Dr. Arabnia told a packed Aula Magna Regina. He captivated the audience of students, faculty and staff with the remarkable account of how, in the space of just a few years, he took a struggling family company and turned it into a global market leader and innovator in its field.
Dr. Arabnia never stopped investing in innovation, research, and education, especially in the toughest times: “You need to build yourself up in times of crisis, so that when the train comes, you can run faster than the others and catch it first.”
In fact, the company reacted to the serious economic crisis that hit the auto industry in 2008 by investing as much as possible in innovation and research, establishing “Campus Fridays,” for cross-training of employees and “Innovation Days” where banks were invited to gain insights into company projects.
That strategy paid off as Geico was able to win major contracts thanks to its cutting-edge technology and energy-efficient operations. After Geico recovered, Dr. Arabnia actually gave workers back the money that they lost when they were placed under a voluntary “reduced salary” regime in 2009 and 2010.
Dr. Arabnia continues to put people first: in May of 2013, he presented his employees with “Laura’s Garden of Thoughts” a 2,000 sqm recreational area named after his wife and muse. Moreover, he showed his recognition to Italy, his host country, by instituting a program for young engineers, J-Next, which gives them the possibility to obtain an open-ended contract within the company.
While giving space to younger generations, Dr. Arabnia underlined the importance of not losing the experience and knowledge of older people. This is why he assigned the older employees of the company to the innovation department.
Dr. Arabnia inspired the audience with his values and actions. Through his qualitative approach towards the people around him, he managed to turn a collapsing company upside down and become a leader in the international market. The most recent success was the alliance with the Japanese giant Taikisha, for revenues of 1.2 billion a year and 4,000 employees.
“When you have a sincere commitment to do something of value, the results will come,” said Dr. Arabnia.