Navigating Leadership Horizons: Alessio Colantonio’s Journey with Damas Engineering

The 10 Most Innovative CEOs to Follow in 2024

Alessio Colantonio

Embark on a virtual tour as we explore the path to success with Alessio Colantonio, the Chief Executive Officer of Damas Engineering, a leading pan-European firm specializing in IT engineering and outsourcing services tailored for the banking and insurance sectors. Alessio has been named one of “The 10 Most Innovative CEOs to Follow in 2024,” with over 15 years of experience in fintech, insurance, and information technology. His expertise ranges from digital strategy to product portfolio planning, outsourcing strategy, and profit and loss management.

Before joining Damas Engineering as their CEO in late 2022, Alessio spent several years in senior managing roles for fortune 500 Companies such as IBM and Infosys, as well as serving in the Executive Committee of BNP Paribas Cardif.

In his current role, Alessio has defined a visionary strategy that empowers the company’s 200+ engineers and subject matter experts to serve clients across diverse industries, ensuring the success of Damas Engineering’s unique value proposition. With a track record of building and scaling international teams, securing funding, and navigating intricate global budgets, Alessio is fervently dedicated to propelling companies toward new horizons and unparalleled achievements.

Beyond the boardroom, Alessio is a fervent aviator and private pilot, a passion that -he says- shares many common elements with his role of leader and executive.

Balancing Success: Alessio Colantonio’s Three-Fold Approach

When we asked Alessio about his “recipe for success” he paused for a moment and then told us that for him it’s all about a delicate equilibrium among three elements. For him, success involves pursuing a meaningful purpose aligned with one’s strengths, the privilege and responsibility of influencing others positively, and the ability to find joy in transforming passion into a career.

“Some people tend to measure success in material ways, and I am ok with that: I think that’s part of it, too – but surely the only aspect” Alessio says.

However, he believes relying on wealth as the sole criterion is inadequate; the concept of “success” takes on an entirely different significance when purpose, influence, and just a good dose of fun are taken into account.

Damas Engineering and its Offerings

Described by the CEO as inherently an IT Outsourcing and Digital Transformation firm, Damas Engineering is dedicated to assisting others in achieving success in their digital endeavors. Established in Italy by Luca Matrone in 2012, the firm initially focused on aiding large companies in the Automotive sector to navigate their IT and digital challenges. Since its inception, Damas Engineering has experienced substantial growth and adaptation to meet clients’ increasingly complex needs. With Alessio taking charge as the CEO, the company has expedited its transition to the finance/banking industry, broadening its service portfolio into two distinct lines of business:

  1. Team Augmentation Services: In this category, Damas Engineering’s experts collaborate with the existing IT teams of clients, providing support to help them achieve the scale or expertise necessary for the successful execution of digital projects.
  2. Managed Services: Damas assumes full responsibility for overseeing end-to-end digital transformation projects, software development, or process improvement initiatives, catering to the diverse needs of their clientele.

Alessio notes: “While the first line of business is about matching the right individual skills with specific client needs, the second is more about employing our distributed capabilities to deliver a business outcome. We partner with our clients.”

The Genesis of Alessio’s Career: Pre-Damas Engineering Era

The early chapters of Alessio’s professional adventure in technology were defined by an unrelenting dedication. At 19, he didn’t hesitate to take up odd jobs in his native Italy. He was determined to reinvent himself following a dissatisfied pursuit of a professional football career and a university hiatus. His pivotal entry into the tech realm occurred at 21 when he secured an entry-level position at IBM. This career break propelled him to leave Italy, leading him to Brno, Czech Republic. It was one of the life-defining milestones, a decision he considers that skyrocketed the growth of his professional trajectory.

Testing the uncharted waters in an unfamiliar world and immersing himself in an international work environment gave Alessio the mindset, opportunities, and resources to cultivate his professional and personal growth. With such every new learning he went on earning promotions to middle-management roles. In the next 14 years, Alessio created an indelible impression at renowned organizations such as Infosys, FNZ, and BNP Paribas Cardif, where he held an executive board role for EMEA until joining Damas Engineering in late 2022.

Damas Engineering: Alessio Colantonio’s Bold Leap to Digital Excellence

It takes a good dose of courage, risk appetite and “hunger” to leave behind fourteen years of corporate-ladder climbing and join a privately-owned digital scale-up. And this is precisely what Alessio told us went through his mind when considering the career change that took place in late 2022.

“I saw an opportunity to play an important part in leading talented people and support the very companies I had the pleasure to work with before, and guide them in their digital transformation”

His knowledge of the industry and hands-on experience on the challenges that are typical of a regulated market are propelling Damas Engineering among the top suppliers for Banks, Insurers and Financial Institutions across EMEA and worldwide.

Notwithstanding the bold move from a career in mega corporations, Alessio recognized a chance to push himself and play a key role in determining Damas Engineering’s future.

Observing and Overcoming Challenges: Perspective on Strength and Growth

“Challenges don’t just make us stronger; they are an essential component of the mixture that propels us forward every day,” Alessio firmly believes. According to him, without challenges, individuals risk falling into a state of stagnation devoid of the external pressures necessary for progress. Alessio’s professional journey has been marked by a variety of challenges, spanning both personal and work spheres simultaneously. Yet, he remains steadfast in his approach, striving to detach emotions and concentrate on available solutions. For Alessio, the key is always to look forward, regardless of the nature of the challenge, as each hurdle encountered contributes to developing resilience and strength.

Alessio Colantonio’s Expertise Drives Damas Engineering’s Success

Alessio believes that his profound knowledge of the banking and insurance sectors played a vital role in his appointment as the CEO of Damas Engineering. His command over these industries, clubbed with his robust network within them, has been crucial to the company’s growth and success. Utilizing his expertise, the firm has carefully incorporated a vertical emphasis into its growth strategy, targeting its services to the highly regulated banking and insurance sectors. Alessio’s knowledge helped Damas Engineering create an entirely novel operating model and put robust risk management procedures in place, bringing tremendous value to its service offering in these niche domains.

Fostering Integrity and Innovation: A Leadership Perspective

Often, a CEO is challenged to promote and sustain novelty at work. When questioned about instilling a culture of integrity and innovation within his team, this skilled seasoned executive shares: “I often refer to my passion for aviation to bring a practical and impactful metaphor to my teams: as a private pilot, my passengers trust me, my training, and my aircraft with their own lives.”  Alessio emphasizes the parallel with their clients entrusting Damas for digital transformation in business. He underscores the importance of discipline, training, and decision-making in both scenarios, ensuring a pledge to  delivering on promises. Moreover, the CEO sheds light on Damas’ commitment to innovation, detailing a “free to fail” policy that encourages risk-taking and learning from mistakes, ensuring a dynamic and fearless environment for idea generation and implementation.

Leadership Acknowledgments: Beyond Awards

“I am not a collector of awards; I prefer to see the impact of my work among people and with our clients. That’s for me incredibly rewarding,” articulates Alessio with a profound sense of pride.

He has received numerous recognitions for his exceptional performance in his respective field. However, he recalls fondly the acknowledgment from a gentleman he mentored a few years ago. The individual expressed, “The biggest lesson for me was not coming from what you told me, but from what you showed me: the way you approach work, the challenges, and the contagious energy you share with those around you.” These sincere and appreciative words hold immense value for Alessio as a meaningful recognition of his leadership.

Vision for Influencing the Next Generation of Leaders

Like many other leaders, Alessio acknowledges the inherit responsibility of shaping the next generation of influencers in the business landscape. He recognizes that future leaders will differ significantly from the current cadre. In his perspective, the decision-making process is transforming, marked by a shift from intuition to data reliance. Alessio believes that influential future leaders will excel in processing vast amounts of information, facilitating more informed decision-making. To navigate this dynamic shift, he advocates for a focus on imparting core values and foundational principles of good leadership. Highlighting the significance of discipline, work ethic, and vision, he encourages today’s leaders to empower the next generation to interpret and implement these values innovatively, fostering a new style of leadership that aligns with the evolving demands of the professional sphere.

What is in Store for Damas Engineering

The CEO of Damas Engineering envisions the company becoming the n1 Digital Accelerator and Partner for Banks and Insurers globally. He emphasizes a strategic focus on delivering unparalleled value to the industry through innovative solutions and products, moving beyond conventional services at risk of commoditization or obsolescence. The CEO underscores the importance of augmenting clients’ value-generation capabilities, setting Damas Engineering apart in the market. Alessio is confident that the company is on a trajectory of growth and transformation, with the team actively executing its plan. The enthusiasm is fueled by internal efforts and the remarkable feedback received from existing clients, affirming the alignment of Damas Engineering’s vision with the evolving needs of the financial and insurance sectors.

Balancing Energy and Discipline

As the CEO of Damas Engineering, Alessio Colantonio takes on the pivotal responsibility of leading the company to become a global Digital Accelerator and Partner for Banks and Insurers. Describing himself in two words—’Energy and Discipline’—he sees these qualities as integral to his leadership style, representing two facets of the same coin. Despite the demanding nature of his role, Alessio acknowledges the fortune of having a proficient team, minimizing the need for day-to-day “firefighting.” He is an early riser who starts his day at 5:30 am, engaging in family responsibilities before heading to the office by 8 am. Preferring in-person collaboration over remote work, Alessio balances frequent travels with dedicated weekends for family time and network development.

Work-Life Integration Philosophy 

The CEO of Damas Engineering shares, “I don’t resonate very well with the idea that personal and professional life are two separate things.”  In his view, there isn’t a clear demarcation between when his professional day stops and his personal life starts. Alessio perceives himself fortunate to be engaged in work he is passionate about, eliminating the need for a deliberate separation. He harmonizes his personal and professional pursuits daily, adjusting the balance based on priorities and prevailing circumstances.

Alessio Colantonio’s Personal Approach to Leadership and Life Growth

On a personal level, Alessio consistently pursues to attain a better version of himself as a father, husband, and leader. “Never stop chasing,” is his advice to aspiring executive leaders. He urges them not to linger on decisions, face challenging choices promptly, and approach each day with discipline and commitment. Drawing from personal experience, Alessio advises detaching emotions from the fluctuations of personal and professional life, recognizing the inevitable ebbs and flows. Reflecting on his journey, he picks up a few pearls of wisdom, “What has also served me well is to remove emotions from the ups and downs of personal and professional life: we all go through low and high tides, and while it’s important to reflect on mistakes or to celebrate victories, I try to be methodical about the process and focus on what’s next.” Most importantly, he encourages aspirants to find joy in the journey, emphasizing that success is a highly individual experience devoid of a one-size-fits-all formula. He asks them to enjoy the ride and embrace everything it offers.