Meet the talent: Giuseppe Santoro, Ceo ApuliaSoft

Place of residence: Italia, Bari

Position: CEO

Please describe a day in your life:

No two days in my life are the same, also because I have a tendency to get bored easily. I usually start my day with some physical activity or meditation. Once in front of the notebook, I first collect all the tasks of the day from emails, messages, and notes and put them on a paper sheet with a priority that I rarely change during the rest of the day. In my tasks, there is always at least one training session. In the morning, I generally deal with more mentally demanding and strategic tasks, and in the afternoon, I devote myself to more operational activities.

How many projects are you currently working on? Please describe them:

As CEO of a software company, my main focus is to foster and manage the company’s growth. Specifically, I am currently focused on a few projects. The first concerns obtaining certifications that will strengthen our foundations to grow faster. These include Great Place to Work, which we recently obtained, and ISO 9001/27001, which we will obtain shortly.

Another project I have been working on in the last period is constructing a career path that clearly defines how and for how long each Apuliasofter can evolve in his or her job.

With regard to the Business Development area, I am engaged in an expansion project in the Northern European market.

Finally, a goal I have always had, continue to have, and will not stop pursuing is to keep company Happiness high, which I do by giving continuous support to our Chief Happiness Officer.

In your opinion, who is the most influential person/company in the world of technology these days?

The most influential person in the world of technology is undoubtedly Elon Musk, who has revolutionised several industries and whose every word has the power to influence markets and related investments.

The most influential company to date is OpenAI, which reached 1 million users in just five days, a goal other tech giants have achieved in months or years. GenAI is undoubtedly a technology that will accompany and change our future. OpenAI has amply demonstrated that many business and personal activities can be simplified and speeded up. We are clearly only at the beginning of this journey, and with Apuliasoft, we are working to be protagonists of this change.

If you could pick one app/product/project existing now that you wish you were involved in, what would it be?

I have difficulty answering this question because I feel I am exactly where I want to be. If I had to imagine a field in which I would like to work, it would be a project aimed at reducing the environmental impact of digital technologies.

What are the three characteristics you have that make you successful in tech?

I believe that three of my most important characteristics are resilience, results orientation and communication skills.

Resilience is crucial in a constantly changing environment. I have faced many challenges throughout my career, from sudden market changes to periods of economic uncertainty. I have remained focused on the company’s long-term goals and maintained a positive attitude during these times. Every obstacle is an opportunity to learn and grow, both on a personal and corporate level.

Result orientation is another pillar of my professional philosophy. In the world of technology, it is easy to get lost in technical details, but in the end, concrete results count. This also means recognising and appreciating each team member’s contribution to achieving the company’s goals. This approach helps us to stay focused and constantly evaluate our progress.

Finally, communication skills are crucial for conveying visions and strategies and actively listening and recognising the value of everyone’s ideas. Open and inclusive communication helps build strong relationships, manage expectations and create a working environment where ideas can flourish and where every team member feels heard and valued.

What is the most challenging thing you had to deal with during your career?

During my career, the biggest challenge I have faced has been reinventing myself constantly. This path has never been linear or easy. Each time I acquired solid skills in a specific area, I realised that the company had reached a new level of growth. This meant that I had to step out of my comfort zone, immerse myself in new learning and take on entirely new activities.

In the beginning, I was mainly focused on technical development. But as the company grew, I had to learn aspects of financial management, business development, human resources management and even corporate law. This required a constant effort to stay up-to-date and adapt my skills to the company’s changing needs.

Facing these challenges has not been easy, but it has been very satisfying. I have learnt that there will always be difficulties in life, as in business. The secret to thriving is not to avoid challenges but to choose the ones you are most passionate about. However demanding, the continuous process of learning and adapting is a challenge I have always enjoyed. After all, that is what makes the journey of an entrepreneur so unique and rewarding.

What is the biggest obstacle to entering the world of technology?

I believe the main challenge lies in carefully choosing technologies, tools and working methodologies. This initial choice is crucial because, although it is possible to evolve them along the way, radically changing them requires a major commitment.

When a company starts up, every decision made can have a significant impact on its future. Choosing the right technologies, tools and methodologies for one’s business journey can greatly simplify the initial stages, where any business project is most vulnerable. Good planning and selection can make the difference between an impervious path and a more manageable one, especially in the early stages, where resources are often limited, and every choice can directly affect the company’s ability to grow and adapt to changing market needs.

What is your greatest achievement up until today?

My greatest satisfaction to date has been contributing to Apuliasoft’s growth, year after year, even in difficult times like the pandemic. This steady progress is a source of great pride. Still, I consider my greatest achievement to be maintaining a high level of Company Happiness even with the substantial increase in the number of employees.

Growing in terms of personnel without losing sight of employees’ well-being and satisfaction is a considerable challenge. Our commitment in this direction has been recognised by obtaining the Great Place to Work certification, which we achieved with an almost maximum score. I firmly believe that a happy and motivating working environment is the key to the success of any company.

What do you wish for yourself with respect to your career?

Firstly, I want to expand our work horizon, competing more internationally significantly. Cultural diversity and exposure to global markets can enrich our skills and broaden our corporate vision.

Second but not least, I want to explore and implement new ways to make my employees’ working lives more rewarding. It is important to me that Apuliasoft is at the forefront of technology and a place where people are enthusiastic about working every day.

What are the 3 most important lessons you have learnt so far in your career?

Choose the right people. I have learnt that if you can choose the right people to work with, you have already done half the work. A team with the right skills, work ethic and attitude can overcome almost any challenge.

Solutions emerge in difficult moments. Giuseppe, one of our investors, once told me: ‘When the situation seems to be tangled, that’s when it’s going to be solved’. Every moment of crisis has taught me not to give up, to think outside the box, and to use pressure as a catalyst for change and innovation.

Think big, act small. This approach has helped me to stay focused on long-term goals without losing sight of the details and the small daily victories that, when added together, lead to overall success. It is a balance between dreaming big changes and taking pragmatic steps towards those dreams.

What are your tips for people wanting to start in the tech world?

For those who want to get started in the world of technology, my advice is:

Technology evolves rapidly, so keep an open mind to learn and constantly update your skills. In addition to technical skills, develop soft skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, effective communication and leadership. Surround yourself with people who share your passion for technology and can inspire and support you. Be it colleagues, mentors or collaborators. The first steps can be difficult, but patience and resilience are key. Learn from failures and see them as opportunities for growth.

If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be?

If I had the opportunity to give advice to my younger self, I would tell him to embrace action instead of getting trapped in analysis. Learning to listen to that inner voice and take action can open unexpected doors and lead to meaningful discoveries. I would suggest to him to always be direct and transparent. Everyone may not appreciate it, but it lays the foundation for gaining trust and respect. I would recommend that he travel as much as possible, acquiring everything beautiful the world and its infinite cultural nuances can offer.

What is the invention of the century in your eyes?

The invention of the century is generative artificial intelligence. As already mentioned, it is revolutionising the way we live, work and interact with the world around us. AI is improving efficiency in many areas, such as medicine, engineering, and education, and also opening up new frontiers in research and development. It has the potential to solve some of humanity’s most pressing problems, from personalised healthcare to the fight against climate change, making it an invention that not only defines this century but could also shape the future of humanity in ways we are just beginning to understand.

What can’t you do without? (app/product…)

First of all, my MacBook. Powerful and light, an ideal companion for people like me who are often on the move.

Secondly, Google Workspace, with which I manage email, chat, documents and spreadsheets.

Finally, in ChatGPT, I used to do text reviews, define processes, create questionnaires and much more.

Which famous person would you like to have dinner with and why?

I would choose Martin Fowler for several reasons, including his significant impact in the field of software development and agile methodologies. To me, Fowler represents innovation and wisdom in software engineering. He is a constant source of inspiration for his often off-the-wall vision, but more importantly, for his ability to tell the story as few can.

Having dinner with him would be a unique opportunity to discuss emerging trends in technology and gain an insider’s view of how they might influence future development practices. His pragmatic and future-oriented approach would provide valuable insights into preparing my company for future challenges.

Where would you like to travel next?

My next trip I would like to take is to Sweden, as I am very fascinated by the history and culture of this country. I visited Stockholm a few months ago, which was wonderful, and I can’t wait to return.

Furthermore, although Sweden is not among the most populous nations in Europe, it has an extraordinary ability to compete in the field of technology and innovation.

This makes it an ideal place to explore new job opportunities, make connections in the technology sector, and get inspired by the latest trends and developments. In essence, it is a country that offers a unique mix of historical beauty and technological advancement. That is why it is the ideal destination for my next trip.

Do you have a person who influences or motivates you?

I have been lucky enough to meet many people who have positively influenced my life; I will mention just a few.

My grandfather taught me the importance of work and attention to detail. My father taught me to believe in myself and that for every problem, there is a solution. Filippo, my thesis teacher, is now also a business partner, who made me understand the importance of the human factor in organisations. Lastly, Francesco and Nicola, with whom I had the privilege of founding Apuliasoft, inspired me, passed on passion, taught me methods, cheered me through difficult times and gave me courage in the entrepreneurial adventure we have been on together for over ten years.

Last thing regarding which you told yourself, ‘how come no one has ever thought of it’?

The last time I asked myself this question was when I thought about introducing the role of Happiness Manager within Apuliasoft. It seemed like an innovative idea, but I later discovered that many companies had already adopted such a figure. However, I keep asking myself why the quality of people’s working lives is often neglected in so many companies. It is a changing trend, and I am proud to be at the forefront of this evolution.

What is the product/service you want that is not there yet?

I would like software to analyse and understand an email conversation. Once understood, it should be able to extract the key points, highlight any inconsistencies or contradictions in the messages and suggest appropriate responses efficiently using artificial intelligence. I am convinced that in the near future, with the rapid technological advances in AI, we may see such a service develop, and I look forward to using it.

What did you dream of creating/inventing/doing as a child?

As a child, my dream was to invent teleportation. I was fascinated by the idea of being able to shorten distances in an instant, eliminating the limits imposed by geography.

Although teleportation remains a science fiction concept today and certainly not on my list of inventions, technology has made great strides in the last 30 years, allowing us to instantly connect with people on the other side of the world. Video calls, instant messaging and virtual reality have helped make our planet smaller and more connected.

How did COVID-19 change the way people view technological development?

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of technological development became more evident than ever before. Technology allowed people to stay connected, work remotely and stay informed in a time of great uncertainty and isolation. In times of fear and tension, technology offered crucial support, keeping hope alive and reducing feelings of loneliness. This experience underlined the importance of investing in technological innovation to improve our daily lives and face future challenges.

Alessio Caprodossi is a technology, sports, and lifestyle journalist. He navigates between three areas of expertise, telling stories, experiences, and innovations to understand how the world is shifting. You can follow him on Twitter (@alecap23) and Instagram (Alessio Caprodossi) to report projects and initiatives on startups, sustainability, digital nomads, and web3.