Gérald Ferraro: the successor makes his mark.
Posted on April, 14 2010
Gérald Ferraro has been President of Solware since July 2008 and has gradually established his position in the company created by his uncle, Gérard Grini. To ensure the long-term future of the software company, the young President is looking for external growth, developing business solutions similar to those developed for the automobile and healthcare markets.
Gérald Ferraro could be mistaken for a typical Lyon businessman but for the occasional sing-song accent which occasionally slips out giving a clue to his Marseille origins. He has now crossed the Rubicon. “I soon realised that my future lay in Lyon,” commented Gérald Ferraro. From 1998, he left his wife and child every week to support his uncle in running Solware, the family business based in Dardilly. For seven years, he commuted by TGV between Lyon and Marseille. “I spent the whole week at the office, immersed in the world of software and computer services. I spent the weekends with my family.” At the side of his uncle, who in 1996 had suggested that he join the Micrauto site in Marseille, the young man learned the business of running a company. Although he did not know that his future had been decided, his uncle had already found his successor. To restore a balanced family life, his wife and two sons left Marseille in 2004. The Ferraro family now lives in the Beaujolais region, not far from Solware.
Career development prospects
“My studies were a preparation for going into research or teaching. I could have joined the Banque de France or INSEE at a much high salary than my uncle was offering!” The brilliant student decided, however, to enter the world of business, although his mentor made it clear that, despite his academic achievements, he still had a lot to learn about the business world. “I did consider setting up a small business with a friend but nothing came of it.” He therefore followed his uncle, in 1996, starting his career in the family business. “Salary isn’t everything,” said the President. The company plan was of paramount importance in his choice of career. His entrepreneurial approach flourished through the missions entrusted to him. The young marketing assistant rapidly rose up the ranks. “I did not think about taking over,” he admitted. “I was involved in the operational side, in particular in the takeover of Géronciel which gave us our entry into the healthcare market.”
As he rose to power, the designated successor became a member of the group’s board of directors in 2005. “Gérard Grini progressively handed over the reins of the company to me. I shared the development strategy with him. We had complete trust in each other.” An LBO sealed the handover from uncle to nephew in July 2008. “He is still a frequent visitor to the company. I tell him about my plans and we have constructive discussions.” Gérald Ferraro is a little less isolated as President than others would be. He is now in complete control, in charge of external growth operations and responsible for the development of the group to achieve the €25M forecast for 2015. Delegation and hands-on management that he learned at the side of his uncle are still part of the fundamental principles of the Solware group – an approach that helps him in integrating the facilities that extend the skills of the software company.