Boating in A Portrait | Marina Stella: “Italy has enormous potential but the nautical industry needs to learn how to work as a system”
General Manager of Ucina Confindustria Nautica, Marina Stella shares with us her role in the trade association and explains the missing ingredients for an even more competitive Italian nautical industry
Marina Stella, born in Novi Ligure, is currently the general manager of UCINA Confindustria Nautica, the trade association that represents the entire pleasure boating sector in Italy.
With a degree in International Economy with honours from the Università di Genova, she immediately went to work for an important multinational auditing and consultancy corporation. In 1998, she began working with UCINA, first in the role of manager for the association, then taking on the role of general manger, which she still does today.
Ms Stella, you are the general manager for UCINA Confindustria Nautica, the association that groups together the important businesses that make Italian products that are unique in the world. What is your biggest desire at this moment for the nautical industry in Italy?
The plan presented upon the assignment of the current presidency had, as its main objectives, “Represent, defend, promote”. We invested a lot of energy and resources in the representation and defence of the central role of UCINA, of the value and economical potential of the sector, the strategic role of the Salone Nautico and support for our businesses.
So, in this moment, I would like that this energy was used to open a new phase of promotion and development for everything our sector represents, with the support of a strong association in its role as representative, which it has been doing since 1967, while it accompanied the story and growth of the pleasure boating industry in Italy.
How does one become general manager of Ucina? What were your first experiences in the nautical industry?
My studies were mostly focused on economy and finance. I graduated from the Liceo Classico “Andrea Doria” and then completed my degree in International Economy, graduating with honours from the Università di Genova.
I immediately started working with an important multinational corporation for auditing and consultancy at a worldwide level, covering roles of responsibility, first in auditing and then certification of the financial reports for listed companies, then in the inspection of financial intermediaries, lastly as part of the Bnp Paribas group.
In 1998, I entered UCINA in the role of director for the association, then, in 2009, I took on the role of general manager, a role that includes the coordination of the organization and planning activities approved by the governing bodies and assistance services for our members.
You manage a pool of large companies that survive thanks to the sea. What do you think of the attention given by local and national entities in regards to the sea? Is the sea a well-developed resource in Italy?
There is certainly still a lot of work to be done. Italy has 8,000 kilometres of coastline. A territory of this kind has enormous potential, but is also very complex to manage. Over the years, through our analyses and partnerships with different research organisations, from Censis to Fondazione Edison, to name just a couple, we were able to ascertain that pleasure boating represents, for our coasts, an extraordinary multiplier of satellite activities.
Imagine that for each person employed in the construction of a boat, once this is in the water, another seven jobs are created through services, maintenance, ports, rentals and tourism. This enormous potential unfortunately is not always clear to the institutions.
An example is the current problems that Italian tourist ports are having, they have seen their public concession lease increase by up to five times, and retroactively, thanks to the financial law of 2006. UCINA Confindustria Nautica is fighting so that the government takes act of this situation which is putting 2,200 jobs at risk.
At a local level an example is represented by the new Darsena di Genova, built with considerable public investments which has allocated areas for tourist-nautical activities and the Salone Nautico, an international showcase for pleasure boating.
To honour and sensitise the enormous potential connected to the sea and nautical industry, UCINA has worked towards, and obtained, the creation of the “Giornata del Mare”, which was added to the reform of the Italian Nautical Code, enacted on 13 February 2018. The initiative, which takes place on 11 April, is directed at schools of all levels and kinds with the aim of “developing sea culture as a resource with a cultural, scientific, recreational and economic value”. As a trade association, we have the duty to help new generations learn about the enormous potential, even from a jobs point of view, represented by the sea and the boating industry.
Let’s pretend we were to create the ideal recipe for the industry in Italy. What are the ingredients that you would like to import from other countries in order to obtain the best result?
Pleasure boating in Italy is an undisputed excellence at an international level, bringer of extraordinary characteristics that make it unique. From our skills in innovating, preserving style, and the quality that only an artisan product can have, to the mixture of the best of Italian production in a single product: design, technology, furniture, textile and accessories.
I think that the ingredient that could further elevate boating in our country could be working as a system with the common aim of helping our industry grow even more. In countries like France and Holland, this is fairly common and allows companies to grow within a more solid and competitive context.
Beyond your job, what is your relationship with the sea and what type of “visitor” are you?
Unfortunately, my job takes up most of my time. When my son was younger I was able to manage a few weekends away or a seaside holiday. Now my work and responsibilities are many, and my free time is quite limited. My son now studies at university abroad and, when he comes back to Italy, we also go on a seaside holiday together.
Sail or motor boat?
Certainly a sailboat. I don’t own one, but have a great memory of when my son went to sailing school. In any case, sailing allows you to really feel the connection to the sea.
Photo by Claudio Colombo
BOATING IN A PORTRAIT. A project by Liguria Nautica and Claudio Colombo showcasing a gallery of Ligurian people or those who have ties with our region, who have left their mark on Italian boating, or who have deep rooted connections with our sea. For each of them, we present a photographic portrait take by Claudio Colombo and an interview with our journalist, Giuseppe Orrù, to better know each person, in their personal lives as well.