#240: The importance of having Hedgehogs and Optionality in Finance

with Riccardo Calliano

Our Guest Mentor:

RICCARDO CALLIANO is Head of Global Finance Capabilities and Talent Pipeline for GlaxoSmithKline (healthcare industry) and prior to that held a number of VP and CFO roles in the pharmaceutical industry across Global Manufacturing & Supplycommercial finance, US PharmaCFO of the China/Hong Kong areaMexico CFOEurope Financial outsourcing – Transformation and implementation leaderEuropean Manager/ P2P Process Owner  FinanceTeam Leader – Customer Intelligence Group, as well as working in the Corporate strategy and Business Development function at FIAT Group 

Riccardo holds an MBA from INSEAD, graduated in Business & Economics from the University of Torino, earned a diploma of International Business from the University of Dublin and an International Business Strategy certificate from the London School of Economics. 

Riccardo hails from Italy and is currently based out of London, England 

Key Quotes From the Episode: 

[On dealing with impact of swine flu during Mexico city lockdown] It’s all about planning, executing thoughtfully with calm and focus.” [08:26] 

 Your immediate next job shouldn’t be your immediate concern it should be what you’re building for long-term in the skills and capabilities that can help in your career advancement.” [15:59] 

[On the importance of optionality] If you build optionality you will be better off in the future even if you don’t know what your job in five years might not even exist yet. [19:35] 

(Other resources and how to connect with Riccardo below). 

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Key Points From the Episode: 

  • How learnings whilst being an FD in Mexico City during the swine flu epidemic can help our organisations and communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  • How we can carve out time to learn and develop these new capabilities and addresses the myth of learning and how he learned Python 
  • The importance of building optionality, the hedgehog concept and how it can be applied to our careers. 
  • The two areas that finance need to look at developing and why we need to look at the opportunity: 

Digital, Data & Analytics 

Generating & Communicating Insights 

Time Stamped Show Notes 

[05:33 Riccardo shares his career journey, currently Head of Global Finance capabilities and talent at GSK and works across Finance org to drive new capabilities and started in automotive industry with Corporate FP&A and Strategic business planning, did an MBA with Instead, then has spent the last 18 years in the pharmaceutical industry, living and working across 7 countries in Europe, north & central America, Asia and is now based in the UK. In Finance partnering, leading a customer intelligence unit, LSS Black Belt, P2P process owner, lead European BPO, VP Finance for China Hong Kong, also US, head of global supply chain. 

[07:22] – Riccardo’s advice on how we in Finance can help our organisations and communities during the Covid-19 pandemic and he shares an experience of how he dealt with the impact of lock down of Mexico city where he lived and worked as an FD for Mexico during the swine flu epidemic. 

[12:48] – Riccardo share his “aha” moment about building his skillset for the future how turned down a coveted Finance Director role for a regional process owner role for P2P. 

[17:05]  How Riccardo dealt with being outside his comfort zone and combine this with is love of learning to making it an enjoyable experience. 

[17:22] – The importance of building optionality. 

[21:00 Riccardo discusses the hedgehog concept and how it can be applied to our careers 

[22:20] – The two areas that finance need to look at developing and why we need to look at the opportunity: 

  • Digital, Data & Analytics  
  • Generating & Communicating Insights 

[26:20] – How we can carve out time to learn and develop these new capabilities and addresses the myth of learning and how he learned Python. 

[29:46] – Best bit of advice Riccardo ever received from his first boss, “never stop learning and being curious.” 

[31:15] – Riccardo shares a couple recommended resources. 

[33:50] – Best way to connect to Riccardo.  

[34:39] – Parting thoughts for our audience. 


Resources Mentioned: 



Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t 




The World Is Flat 







Connect with today’s guest: 

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/riccardo-calliano-789491/ 


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