Want to know the secrets of time management and the perfect work-life balance when working remotely? Paolo Tornaghi has spent the last year splitting his time between Greece, where he works, and Italy, where his family is. Yet, he still manages to stay inquisitive, maintain good relationships, participate in family life, lead the PPG Hellas team and have ‘coffee-machine chats’ even in lockdown.
A Truly Diverse Career Path
After gaining a degree in engineering 22 years ago, Paolo spent the next seven years in various managerial positions in the refinish business. Then, in 2005, he came to work with us, starting as the logistic contract manager for South Europe. He was then off exploring the value chain through different roles in the European supply chain, and Middle East and Africa customer service and sales.
Currently, Paolo lives in Athens and leads the Greek and Balkans team as general manager for PPG Hellas in Greece.
Managing large regions in multicultural environments with international teams has taught him a lot about cultural diversity. He has found this invaluable in his current role, where he’s an Italian, living in Greece, managing the Greek and Balkans team.
My background in diversity has changed me as a person. It really helps me manage my team and support our customers.
Clear Team Strategy to Meet Customer Needs
We all have challenging targets in this fluent business environment, but I know that each and every contribution counts.
Paolo places great importance on having a strong customer relationship and tries to build trust and respect by taking care of customer needs and finding a solution to their problems.
He really values being part of a team that has a clear strategy and execution plan. Venturing outside of his comfort zone has become his trademark.
My strategy, with my customers and as a leader, is to work hard, keep learning, to accept that I make mistakes, and to never be afraid when asking basic questions.
Greek Refinish team during MoonWalk launch event in January 2020
Staying Part of the Family Routine – No Matter Where
Having spent the last year fortnightly traveling between Athens and Milan, finding a healthy work-life balance has been challenging. When he’s at home, family is the priority and he makes sure he reorganizes his activities to do things like take the kids to school.
But thanks to modern technology, he’s able to stay in close touch with his family even when he’s traveling.
I do my best to be part of the normal family routine, doing what I can remotely – like helping with homework and telling stories. My first and last calls of the day are with my wife.
A Team United by ‘Business as Usual’
The COVID-19 outbreak locked Paolo in Italy. Though every part of working and home life had suddenly changed, him and his team followed the slogan: Business as Usual. Within a couple of days, everyone was an expert on Zoom and Skype.
To facilitate team meetings, they bought a 180° video camera and Paolo’s office became the video conference room. Every morning, the team “gathered” for meetings to discuss priority COVID-19 issues and related business challenges.
These really helped reinforce the team. We could share information, update each other on progress, and speed up the decision-making process.
The Happy Benefits of Video Calls
As Paolo sees it, the main challenge of working remotely is to remain engaged and still feel part of the team. Therefore, he encouraged his team to reduce the number of emails or instant messages they were sending to one another and to video call instead.
I feel good when I talk with people, and much better if I can see them in video calls.
He even set up one-to-one video calls to discuss non-business topics like family, schools, and how each team member was coping with remote working… “what you discuss at the coffee machine,” as he puts it. His team was not used to having a remote manager, but they quickly adjusted to the new situation and did a great job.
What’s more, my kids now know my entire team, my colleagues, and customers. And they can say ‘hello’ in at least five different languages!