"Work is like refereeing. At first you have to make a name for yourself through the players and gain credibility over time; but if you make a wrong call, you risk losing it all and having to regain it. It is continuous work that requires a certain amount of perseverance."
Giulio Giovannetti, 30 years old, originally from Terni but living in Turin since long time, is a Quality Engineer who works in the CPE team (External Production Cell) at Rivalta headquarters. In his daily activity, he takes care of Avio Aero’s suppliers for validating production processes, managing any non-conformities in products, improving suppliers’ performance and checking that everything complies with Avio Aero's high-Quality principles. But not only.
Indeed, when the day at the Rivalta site is over, Giulio changes from the light and dark blue Avio Aero uniform to grey and orange of refereeing livery. It is as if he has two parallel lives, apparently like the ordinary Clark Kent or Peter Parker, but they are not quite so parallel. In fact, Giulio is a basketball official for the women Major league and Legadue league that - in comparison with the most popular sport in Italy - corresponds to the Serie B soccer league.
"I always loved basketball and I used to play it in the hometown team, then I started referring at 16, following my sister's advice. I liked to get involved and, moreover, referees get to see any matches for free!" says Giulio ironically. "But I liked it right away, it gave me sense of responsibility, and, it cannot be denied, at that age extra cash for going out with friends is useful."
When he was 19 years old, Giulio moved to Milan to study and graduate from the Polytechnic University. "After getting my degree, I moved to Florence for my first job at General Electric Oil & Gas and then to Turin for Avio Aero. Refereeing and basketball have been my constant companions on this journey: first Serie D in Umbria, then the Serie C2 and C1 in Lombardy, Serie B between Tuscany and Piedmont, and in the last year the Legadue."
At this point, the question spontaneously arises to ask if you ever have any free time?
"I have 20 weekends off a year. The rest of the time I'm either at work, for which I travel a lot, or I travel all over Italy to referee. But for me it is not a sacrifice, I like the life I do, I never stay still and the more I travel the happier I am. Although my girlfriend Arianna now counts the days I am at home (in February he was at home 4 days, ed.), fortunately I share with her the passion for the sport. In any case, thanks to refereeing, I also have the chance to occasionally meet my family who are often present in the stands as special fans.”
Do you need to practice being a referee?
“A lot: just like players do, you need a daily exercise to keep on improving. Physical training and athletic preparation on the one hand, technical work on the other, reviewing specific game situations through training or videos several times. In the end, it is key to review every refereed game aiming to work on your own mistakes, to improve the rules acknowledgement and to better prepare for the next game. Daily work for continuous improvement, just like the basis of business processes."
Are your lives as engineer and referee interconnected, do they influence each other or are they really two parallel worlds?
"They intertwine a lot, and rightly so. Working is like refereeing. At first you have to make a name for yourself through the players and gain their credibility over time; but if you make a wrong call, you risk losing it all and having to regain it. It is continuous work that requires constancy. Additionally, being a referee means being put between two opponents (the teams, ed.) and resolve their dispute. And that means dealing with conflict resolution, making decisions in a fraction of a second, knowing how to work together as a team (in Legadue each game has 3 referees, ed.) and, especially, to listen. I could go on for hours, finding symmetries and parallels between refereeing and working life."
What about your engineering vein affecting your refereeing?
"Let's just say I am always the same, it's me. To consolidate the myth, as an engineer, I have a very analytical mental approach, square, as someone would say. In my team they call me the 'rule-man’, because I always want to know all the rules before the problem arises. My basic nature has certainly helped me on the grays path… that’s our nickname on the court for the color of our jersey."
You have told us that you have travelled for work a lot during the last year. Where was your whistle on these occasions?
"Yes, over the last year there has been an increase: United States, Sweden, Scotland, France, Italy and many more places. Last year I spent one-month in the United States where I visited 20 suppliers in 30 days. It was great. As far as the whistle, it is just a question of organization. I can only underscore Avio Aero's support for this parallel activity of mine: just like on the court, I earned the trust of my managers and this lets me organize my time independently and thus manage both commitments".
"Dealing with conflict resolution, making decisions in a fraction of a second, knowing how to work together as a team and how to listen. Working is like refereeing"
Forgive us one last question: but has anyone ever asked you who makes you do it?
"Yes, it happens often. And the answer is: my sister! It is probably a family affair: my dad used to referee when we were kids, I introduced my brother Guido and he is now a referee in Serie A, while my girlfriend is a National Field Officer (the ones on board field that complete the report and manage the timekeepers, ed). This passion could not fail to catch the whole family so much so that mum, dad and sisters no longer miss a game, get information on the details of refereeing and comment on our calls.
A referee could be under a notable pressure sometimes, because of spectators for instance, how do you deal with that?
“While refereeing, I admit that I am so focused on the players I do not even notice what happens off the court!”
Cover and basket photography credits, Prospero Scolpini©