Governing Body Spotlight

Governing Body Member of the Italy CIO Community

Paolo Cinelli

Group CIO

Bolton Group

Paolo is the recently appointed CIO of Bolton – the owner of food and non-food consumer goods brands, including Rio Mare, Uhu, Borotalco, and more, across 120+ countries – with the mandate to establish and lead the group’s digital strategy.

Throughout his international career, living in seven different countries, Paolo has worked in various leadership positions at Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Unilever, before reaching the Group CIO level at Heineken and later IKEA.

As Group CIO and CDO in the IKEA eco-system, Paolo spearheaded and led the digital transformation of IKEA into a truly omnichannel retailer. Strategic vision, curiosity, customer experience and business value creation are Paolo’s main drivers when pursuing innovative opportunities, enabled by digital technology. Besides his digital and IT focus, Paolo has accumulated over six hundred hours of coaching practice, both in life and career – “trust me, they are the same thing”, says Paolo.

Learn more about the Italy CIO community here.

Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.

Following my studies in mathematics and statistics, I worked for fourteen years at P&G. This essentially served as my ‘management and leadership school’, where I was able to practice how to effectively achieve results whilst managing increasing levels of responsibility.

Through Unilever and Heineken, I learnt about different cultures and leadership styles, influencing by building professional relationships and enabling profound organisational changes. At IKEA, together with my progressive colleagues, I was able to push digitalisation as a way to achieve business transformation at a larger scale.

Besides that, living in seven different countries, working with so many amazing colleagues, and being supported by a lovely family are all things that have enabled me to undertake complex challenges towards creating sustainable value.

What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

Actively listening to people and maintaining a positive attitude to change is very important to stay relevant in a fast-evolving world.

With disruption being a key theme of the past year, where do you see your role as a CIO going in the next 1-2 years?

Disruption will continue. Therefore, I see the role of the CIO as both keeping stability for core processes and enabling/amplifying change, business innovation and value creation by leveraging digitalisation.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the role as a CIO?

My passion for technology has been an essential enabler throughout my career, but my interest in business and people has always been the key driver. Keep your attention on the latter, and do not let the former carry you away, as that would alienate you from where the most important decisions are made.

Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.

  1. Having reached the coaching certification level, I have practiced over six hundred hours of coaching and have helped over eighty people. I have learnt a lot throughout this process and love to see people smile when overcoming obstacles.
  2. I started long-distance running only 10 years ago and became addicted to preparing for full marathons: I do not want to win them, but I love finishing them with a good feeling.
  3. As a self-taught guitar player, I have lots of sheet music books. However, since the internet now gives me all the songs I want on my tablet screen, I would be happy to donate these books to someone who still uses them.

What is the value of participating in a professional community through Evanta? 

Exchanging experience, brainstorming and learning together.

Evanta Governing Body members share their insights and leadership perspectives to shape the agendas and topics that address the top priorities impacting business leaders today.

by CIOs, for CIOs

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