a matter of loyalty and pride

Diana Bracco leads the family group, a world leader in diagnostic imaging. The company, 95 years old, has created an increasingly active Foundation also in art


From her desk in the Palazzo Visconti, in the heart of Milan, Diana Bracco pilots (very well, judging by the impetus she gave) the multinational group that bears the family’s name and, founded in 1927 by his grandfather Elio Bracco and reinforced by Father Fulvio, turns 95 this year. Under his leadership as chairman and CEO, in fact, the Bracco Group (nearly two thousand patents, seven research centers, nine factories worldwide) with a turnover of 1.4 billion euros (89 percent of the international market) and about 3,600 employees, has not only grown considerably but has achieved world leadership in diagnostic imaging.

Alongside her commitments as captain of the industry, which earned her the title of Cavaliere del Lavoro (but she prefers to be called “medicine”), she was the first woman president of Federchimica i Assolombarda, later president of the ‘Expo 2015 and much more. moreover, and who is still a member of the Governing Council of Confindustria and the boards of directors of Bocconi University and Fiera Milano, he cultivates many passions in the fields of culture, art and society. it used to be called philanthropy, while today I prefer to talk about social responsibility and “good citizenship»From the company.

This is also the result of a family tradition inaugurated by the founder, grandfather Elio (born on the island of Mali Lošinj in Croatia, irredentist, imprisoned for his ideas and soon took refuge in Italy) who, in the midst of war , in 1942, wanted to save all the work of the Friulian painter Angiolo D’Andrea (1880-1942), author, among other things, of the charming mosaic decoration of the “Camparino” bar in the Galleria in Milan. “D’Andrea collaborated with Giulio Ulisse Arata, my grandfather’s favorite architect: a great friendship was born“Recalls Diana Bracco, who in 2012 created Costume Moda Immagine at the Palazzo Morando in Milan, the tribute to D’Andrea that her grandfather would have wanted to promote.

This was the third exhibition, after “Canaletto and his rivals” (National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2011) and “Constantine 313 AD The Edict of Milan and the time of tolerance” (Palazzo Reale di Milano, 2012-13, then in Rome at the Colosseum), promoted by the Bracco Foundation, established by Diana Bracco in 2010 and active in the artistic, scientific and social fields. In addition to important restorations (among other things, at the Quirinal), many exhibitions followed: the unforgettable “Le dame dei Pollaiolo. A Florentine Renaissance Workshop “(2014-15, at the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan) and” Inside Caravaggio “(2017-18), in which clinical imaging technology was put at the service of painting. On this 95th anniversary , at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, was the turn of “Titian and the Image of Women” and the photographic exhibition “Portrait. Directors of Italian Museums.” Two projects that introduce the field of women’s empowerment, each once again at the heart of the Foundation’s interests.

Dr. Bracco, her Foundation has long been concerned with the issue of young women’s access to study and then at the “upper floors” of the professions, long before the subject became as central as it is today. Does this sensitivity have anything to do with your personal history?
I did Chemistry in Pavia: we were, therefore, five girls among a myriad of men (in the period of two years we were together with future engineers). I remember during exams some cried, seemed uncomfortable, and made me very nervous. Sure, it wasn’t easy, but I’ve never cried. Fortunately, in the last 50 years it has changed a lot in the customs and in the society, but the access to the professions Stem (that is, they are part of the scientific, technological, engineering and mathematical fields, Ed), and in any case in the first positions of the professions, it is still difficult for girls and women. We, with the Foundation, want to teach young people that today, if you want, you can do whatever you want, you don’t have to limit yourself. The exhibition on museum guidelines and, before, the one on women scientists carry this message, but in the meantime we have also created the database. 100esperte.it (which are now many more) which include philosophers, historians, diplomats, economists. It is a tool that we wanted to make available to journalists so that, when they have to interview an “expert”, they do not resort, as always, to a man. The same should happen (and it’s happening in part, but only now) at roundtables, where a woman hasn’t been seen for many years. The slogan “no women, no panel” should be applied here. I myself have retired on a couple of occasions, refusing to attend a men-only table. It is true that we are few women in these positions and this is the reason why the training and growth of women’s professionalism have become the identifying theme of the Bracco Foundation.

However, in her family, made up of three sisters, all with the same education and the same opportunities, she alone has taken the helm of the family business.
Maybe because I was the most disciplined: I was told “Sign up for Chemistry” and I did. But I would be lying if I said that I had this vocation since I was a child. I wanted to be a doctor. I gave up. However, it didn’t go wrong …

I guess the presence of women in the Bracco Group is numerous, even in the top positions.
Yes, of course, they are about half of the total, and by 2025 we want to reach the goal of having 35 percent women in management and executive positions. The Bracco Research Center in Colleretto Giacosa, near Ivrea, is currently run by chemist Roberta Fretta; The Torviscosa factory in Friuli is run by engineer Laetitia Laurent, and Fulvia Vella, recently awarded the title of Teacher of Work, is responsible for quality control. After all, my father, like all Istrians, felt very much about gender equality, and by the 1950s there were women executives in the company.

To return to the promotion of culture, as well as the visual arts, you are also very present in the world of music, even as vice president of the Accademia Teatro alla Scala Foundation.
Music has been a passion of mine since I was a child. I have been very fortunate to be able to follow all the stations of La Scala since I was ten years old and also the love for music is something that should be taught to girls and boys. As a Milanese, I have always supported La Scala and our Conservatory, but I have also supported the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. As for the Accademia Teatro alla Scala, we promote the creation of an opera a year for the programming of La Scala (this year it will be “The Secret Marriage” by Domenico Cimarosa) and we present the students in concerts and ballets, in theaters around the world or in international events (for Expo 2015 we commissioned the ballet “Cinderella”). They have always made us look great.

Why is your commitment spread across different fronts?
We consider culture, training and, in general, personal support as a fundamental part of our concept of sustainability. These are far-reaching interventions to support the person in all aspects: for example, we have set up three psycho-pedagogical centers, Cesano Maderno, Ceriano Laghetto and Lambrate (where we have offices and factories) to support the schools for frail people. children and their families, and we recently supported the three-day IN & AUT festival (Milan, Steam Factory, May 13-15, Ed) to raise awareness about autism. In terms of history and culture, they are part of this constellation because they are the foundation of the community. It is the responsibility of companies to support culture precisely because of its ethical and social value, without forgetting that it is necessary to return to the territories where they operate what, as a company, they have received.

In addition to these indisputable values, can it also be said that companies should “make culture”?
Investing in culture is an investment in values, which is enriched on a personal level and has a positive impact within the company, because it generates loyalty among employees and pride in the role played, but for companies there is also has a significant reputational return, as this is an issue that citizens and consumers are increasingly paying attention to. It is clear that it is essential to know how to “network” with institutions: the secret of public-private collaboration is shared planning, carried out jointly. This is the recipe that has allowed Bracco to give solidity and continuity over time to the collaborations with the great cultural institutions with which we operate.

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