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"When you buy a new car in Italy, people come out of their houses to see it"
Computers, technology, the Internet... Isn't the San Francisco Bay Area where it all happens?
Although this is the center of the universe from a technology perspective, most of us tend to forget computer companies exist worldwide. And Gabriele Sartori, a native Piedmontese, has not only worked with several of them, but he's operated his own computer business, as well.
After his childhood in Trivero (in the Biella province), and initial work activities in his hometown he went to work for a division of Olivetti in Taiwan. When Gabriele returned to Italy from Taiwan he opened his own company . Eventually, Gabriele returned to working full time at Olivetti as Director of Research & Development for the desktop PC-where he created Envision, a computer precursor of Web TV. That is what finally led to his migration to Silicon Valley, where he has served as Vice President of Opti, Director of Strategic and Technical Marketing for Quantum, and is currently the Director of Strategic Marketing for AMD (that's Advanced Micro Devices, for those of you who don't get around to reading PC World or Wired).
"There's a lot of 'cowboy style' here," he continues. Cowboy style? That would be the swagger and over-confidence many of us, regardless of industry, have come to take for granted here on the American "prairie."
"My style is quieter. I would rather be liked and respected for my behavior and actions. I don't know if that's Italy's influence on me or something unique to my personality."
Though there's little difference between the work ethics of Silicon Valley and the major cities of Italy, he can't help but be aware of the uncertainty inherent in the many start-up businesses here. Job uncertainty was never much of an issue in his Italian working life. (Of course, recent changes at Olivetti in Italy may have rendered that security as tenuous as the merger-ravaged landscape here in America.)
"If I ask how you are," he explains, "I really want to know. Americans ask but don't really care. I think they are too busy!" He gets homesick thinking about the hours spent "just sitting around and talking with friends. I know it doesn't sound like much to Americans, but for me, the absence of that time is a painful adjustment."
Yet, it's that same distancing aspect of American life that also holds enormous appeal for Gabriele. "When you buy a new car in Italy, people come out of their houses to come see it. You may hate to buy anything because you know everybody is watching, ready to comment on how much you spent, what your financial status must be; everything that's none of their business! But here, you can buy whatever you want, and nobody pays much attention. They give you your privacy."
He prefers Italian schools to those his children attend in California, citing a disappointing lack in the overall quality of education here. And he wishes there wasn't so much emphasis on speed limits on our roads.
"Yes, I have a different driving style," he chuckles. "But despite all the fast movement on Italian roads, we don't have a high rate of mortal accidents. I think all the attention Americans pay to their speed limit prevents them from good driving habits"
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