The new CEO of Ferrari, Dr. Benedetto Vigna, is a Physicist with Interest in Emotional Engineering

Today, when we go into Benedetto Vigna’s glass-walled office, he is pacing while on the phone. At the same time, […]

Benedetto Vigna

Today, when we go into Benedetto Vigna’s glass-walled office, he is pacing while on the phone. At the same time, he terminates the conversation and waves us in, and he also hangs up. There’s a warm greeting with a hand extended and a broad grin: “Welcome, welcome.” The new head of Ferrari is not one to bow to convention.

Dr. Benedetto Vigna

Benedetto Vigna, an intriguing candidate to head Italy’s most renowned automotive manufacturer, will take over as CEO of Maranello in the middle of 2021, according to an appointment from Ferrari chairman John Elkann. To begin with, he has no prior experience in the automotive industry.

Vigna, a trim 53-year-old scientist with decades of expertise in the semiconductor sector, always has a ready grin. During his 26-year tenure at Swiss firm STMicroelectronics, the closest he came to the auto industry was leading the creation of a cheap three-dimensional motion sensor for use in airbag systems. He eventually perfected the blueprint for the Nintendo Wii’s wireless controllers. Benedetto Vigna, like many Italians, has a soft spot for the Prancing Horse. As he reflects on his childhood in southern Italy, he adds, “Ferrari has always been with me, since I youngster,” alluding to the little Ferrari he used to carry in his pocket and race among the rocks near his home. At fourteen, he and four pals drove almost 500 kilometers north to Imola to witness the San Marino Grand Prix without informing their parents. We have awful TV reception on racing days, so that was my genuine motivation for studying physics, he joked.

It was also the final time Enzo Ferrari saw the victory of one of his Formula One cars in person. I wondered how it felt to take over the firm that your father, Enzo, started. Vigna describes it as “a dream coming true.” This dream would present enormous difficulties if it were to become a reality.

Enzo Ferrari conceived the mythology, Luca di Montezemolo perfected it, and Sergio Marchionne worked out how to capitalize on it by orchestrating the public float in 2015, which resulted in a valuation of more than $60 billion for the company. Since then, Ferrari stock hasn’t been doing as well, trading about 30 percent lower than its 2021 high. This is partly because the firm failed the aggressive 2022 profit forecast set in 2018 when Covid drove the world economy into reverse.

In addition to enormous global turmoil, Benedetto Vigna must lead the Prancing Horse through a dramatic transformation in the automobile sector. Few things in the past can be depended on to build a corporate road map for the future, from Russia’s conflict in Ukraine to the fast rise of electric cars.

One Keychain, One F1 Car

Henry Ford is said to have told Alfa Romeo’s chief Ugo Gobbato in 1938, “When I see an Alfa Romeo, I lift my hat,” demonstrating Ford’s respect for the Italian automaker’s history of excellence in engineering. However, by the end of the twentieth century, that prestige had been severely damaged by years of poorly constructed, unreliable Italian automobiles, Ferraris included. However, modern Ferrari is undeniably an engineering-led corporation, turning out vehicles that are not just fast and appealing but also have high levels of quality and technological ability.