Renata Liuzzi

Renata Liuzzi, the CEO and Founder, Axis Partners, is a global business-transformation strategist with 18+ years of experience in business strategy, customer experience (CX), innovation, digital transformation and most recently, Metaverse and Web3.

She founded Axis Partners to respond to strategy, CX, and innovation challenges, which are critical components of business survival and evolution. Axis Partners also brings to the market Metaverse solutions, making easy what it seems to be a complex ground to conquer.

In only 3 years, she has established Axis Partners as the number 1 boutique Customer Experience & Innovation company in the MENA region, substantially growing revenue and client portfolio.

Engaged as a strategic advisor to major sovereign investment organisations and major groups in MENA and Europe, Renata continues to disrupt the market with a unique way to deliver projects that bring positive impact to her clients.

She is a recognised thought leader. She is a visiting Lecturer at the IE Business School, where she teaches Strategy, CX and Design thinking to International MBA Students. She is also a Mentor for top start-ups coming from the number 1 innovation-lab in Europe.

This year, Renata won the award for Second Most Influential CX & Innovation Practitioner Worldwide, presented on behalf of CX Magazine, and was featured as one of the top CX & innovation thought-leaders in 2021. She was recently featured on the front page of Retail Magazine, where she discusses the future of CX with the impact of NFT, Metaverse and Blockchain. She is also a renowned keynote speaker, bringing her knowledge to the stage in an engaging manner.

Excerpts from an exclusive interview:

As a next-generation CEO, what are the lessons that you wish to carry forward from your mentors?

Growing a company in times of change is a great opportunity. Change is the new norm. There is a fundamental mindset shift that needs to happen when you grow in challenging conditions: instead of seeing issues, you must see business opportunities.

In such a changing market it’s important to be nimble enough to adapt. Here are 3 secrets I have learned from my mentors and my own experience:

1. Humbleness - Knowing that you are not always right and truly listening and understanding others’ point of view makes you grow in so many ways. In fact, if you are ambitious you must be even more humble - you will discover how much you can learn from everyone around you, during every interaction.

2. Resilience - Nothing of value in this life comes easy. Even the most successful leaders have gone through difficult times. It is allowed to fail, but what’s not allowed is not to learn from your mistakes. If you fail, fail fast, so you can recover from the mistake even faster.

3. Confidence – The best leaders in history believe in their vision and make others believe in their vision as well, to the point that they will willingly follow. Confidence is key to communicate your vision in a compelling manner. Without a team that will follow you, you will never be able to bring your vision to reality.

What are the challenges you have faced and how have you tackled them?

My career started as one among very few women in the mechanical engineering world. My professional career has also been in male-dominated environments, which made it hard for me to find female role-models. I had to shape my own style in business, based on my own values. That’s why I mentor as many female professionals as I can, and I love to see them grow in their careers.

I grew with very limited financial resources. I completed all my university degrees with scholarships. During my degree in Mechanical Engineering and masters in Motorsports, I finished courses with borrowed books and using all free available student resources to graduate. My MBA was funded with 3 scholarships and a student loan. On the other hand, my parents were living in Venezuela, and I had to relocate them to Europe, tightening my financials and adding a big responsibility on my shoulders.

I believe that no challenges come without a learning - they have driven me to continuously push forward and have shaped in me a solution-driven mindset, which I apply to literally everything in my life.

Looking ahead, living in such a fast growing and diverse country like the UAE, the key challenge I see is how to evolve in the right direction in a market where there is constant change, how do I tackle this?

Being nimble is key, and of course, always staying close to your customers, as their voice is always the light at the end of the tunnel in uncertain times. These are the ingredients to adapt, and continuously evolve towards a direction that will ensure sustainable growth for your business.

State three things that you could offer to help incentivise your team in their quest for excellence.

Empower them, nurture them, and support them when they fail. Your goal as a CEO of a growing company should be to help your team to move forward on their own without being pushed to do this, as well as believing in your vision, so they work for a purpose rather than just turning up for a job every day.

Job satisfaction is not the opposite of job dissatisfaction, in fact, they are completely distinct matters. Job dissatisfaction comes when the “hygiene factors” are not there, like job security, a decent salary and safe working conditions, these factors eliminate dissatisfaction, but do not motivate someone for a higher performance. A simultaneous approach is needed. A CEO should also focus on a set of internal factors to boost job satisfaction such as challenging work, autonomy, recognition and advancement. These factors engage employees so that they become self-motivated to perform well, time and again.

In your view as a new-age CEO, how primed is the UAE as a hub for business and entrepreneurship?

I always say that if you are an entrepreneur and you are based in the UAE, you are in the right place at the right time.

It is very difficult to find a place where there is a confluence of the optimal conditions to launch and grow a company, and here in the UAE, you can find them all.

The regulatory environment is very favourable of SMEs and innovation-related projects, because of the nature of the country. Also, an important portion of business in the UAE are SMEs, which makes it a perfect hub to build the right partnerships, and ultimately, create an ecosystem of companies around you that sets your business up for success.

How do you see your organisation/business contributing towards the growth of the UAE under your leadership?

Axis Partner’s business model and strategy is very much aligned to the UAE strategy and ambition.

The UAE turns crisis into opportunities, and that’s exactly what Axis Partners specialises in.

We have been advising major groups in the UAE to thrive in challenging conditions over the last three years, helping them to become stronger in uncertain times.

My vision for the business and personal vision, is to constantly add value while having the focus to create more and new ways to add value to our clients – that’s what drives progress and business growth.

Our projects span across MENA and Europe, bringing international business revenue to the UAE.

As part of our engagements, we also bring to the UAE international key thought leaders from the Metaverse, CX and Innovation backgrounds, that hold strong business track record; as well as professors from top world-wide universities. This enables knowledge transfer to UAE, helping the county’s agenda to become a hub for knowledge and expertise, especially in the topics of Metaverse, Innovation and Customer Experience.

What are the growth areas you have charted for your organisation over the next five years?

We expect to continue in the path of exponential growth. We believe that to create sustainable growth (in the topics we work on at Axis Partners), we must continue to focus on education.

Our trainings, academies and workshops in aspects like Metaverse, CX and Innovation, as well as motivational talks, have been extremely successful over the past years, we plan to continue focusing on this aspect, to prepare the ground to continuous growth.

The Metaverse is another of our growth pillars. We are engaged in several Metaverse-related projects with some of the biggest groups in the UAE and companies in Europe. We design Metaverse, NFT and Web3 business models that are unique to each company and are designed to accelerate their growth strategy. We provide an end-to-end support, where we guide, advise, design and care to deliver all elements required to get the project up and running.

Customer experience is another of our key areas of growth, as it is becoming a key area of focus for businesses to thrive in UAE and beyond. We are the best boutique CX and Innovation company, and hence, we expect to continue to help more and more businesses to deliver exceptional experiences, as well as maintaining the current customer base and acquiring new customers, to drive revenue increase and operational efficiencies.