Student Spotlight: Francesco Soncini on His Climb to President of JERO and Beyond

Francesco Soncini, president of JERO International Consulting, talks about his experience at JCU, his relationship with the junior enterprise and his plans for the future.

Community Spotlight

By Razvan-Valentin Moldovan / Matthew staff

Courtesy of Francesco Soncini

Francesco Soncini is a senior student at John Cabot, majoring in Business Administration and graduating in December 2021. He was born and raised in Carpi, in Emilia-Romagna, Northen Italy. Francesco is the current President of Jero International Consulting. We had a virtual chat and talked about his long and short-term plans as as his academic path at John Cabot.  

How did you get interested in studying and pursuing a career in Business Administration?  

Before coming to JCU, I studied at a technical institute. I was always more fascinated by technical skills, particularly mechanics in particular. However, growing up, I realized that I wanted to focus on its organizational aspect, so, rather than studying engineering, I decided to specialize in the economic field. Coming to John Cabot from a technical institute rather than a liceo meant that I did not get 24 credits transferred, but only 15. Although this can be seen as a disadvantage, I believe that my technical background allowed me to be more flexible and have more working experience than students with a different experience, and that is because of the different internships I was able to work at while still attending high school.

Why did you decide to study at John Cabot?  

Well, I learned about the university through a childhood friend. I remember I was looking for a university that could provide me with the opportunity to study in English. There were a few options I was considering, including schools in Bologna and Trento. However, my goal was to study in an international environment, and I noticed that those universities didn’t really offer that specific opportunity. On the other hand, John Cabot is an institution that brings together people from many different parts of the world. I think you can agree with me: the numbers speak for themselves, as we have about 60 countries represented, so the environment couldn’t really be more diverse and international. 

Initially, I planned to move to the USA for college. But, growing up, I understood that, at least for the moment, I would have preferred to stay in Europe. However, I’m not excluding the possibility to move to a different country in the future. If I am offered a worthy opportunity that allows me to grow, I will go everywhere.

And how was your experience at JCU during Freshman and Sophomore year?  

Wow, it’s tough to remember. At that time, I was still very focused on studying in the United States, which is why I applied for a study abroad semester. However, just when I was ready to depart, COVID happened and, suddenly, I was stuck in Italy for a year and a half. During that time, I tried to take advantage of other international opportunities by taking summer courses at the Copenhagen Business School, which takes us to the present day, with life just starting to feel normal again.  

That leads me to my next question, how is the situation now compared to then?  

If there’s one thing COVID did for me was to motivate me to get the most out of the opportunities that I was presented with. Among them is JERO, of course, and the internship I obtained through Career Services for The International Network for Small and Medium Enterprises (INSME). The latter happened during Spring 2020, and it helped me gain a new perspective on things.  Speaking from my area of specialization, institutions are not that strong of a presence when it comes to job positions. So, spending seven months working for an institution, although small, made me understand the way international relationships and international projects are managed and allowed me to acquire more skills in the field of social entrepreneurship.

You are the president of JERO. How did you learn about it and ended up joining?  

My friend Fernando, the former president and founder of the organization, recommended I joined. He promised me that joining JERO would be a valuable experience, which would have looked great on my CV. And that was how it all began. You know, sometimes it works like that: most students get involved with particular extracurricular activities because they know they will have some practical gains from it. But, as you get more involved, you start looking beyond that. Yeah, it does look good on the CV and whatnot. But the real experience is working with people and establishing new relationships. And, to me, that’s the most empowering aspect of a leadership role. 

What skills do you think you are developing while covering the position of President?  

First of all, although it’s not really a skill, I would say you develop a sense of responsibility. You must be very humble and recognize what your limits are in a way that’s honest and analytical. In a way, for you to understand where you are and where you want to go you must have a clear idea of your capabilities and strengths.

What was one particular difficult situation that you found yourself in and how did you go about it?  

When we came back to university in September, it was a pretty tough scenario. I felt like I knew people, but only through a screen, so it was like I has been given the keys to a brand new, shiny car, without knowing how to drive it. Therefore, I had to learn how to cover this important position while gathering up the team and acting as a guide who motivates and gives general direction to all. It was a “learning by doing” sort of situation, and it was intimidating, but we achieved great things thanks to our persistence and motivation. 

Have there been any major changes in JERO since you stepped in?

We’re on the way of making such changes. When Fernando was president, the objectives of the organization were very clear. I think, though, that what was missing was an integration of JERO’s values with Italian networks and with all the other junior enterprises. Therefore, this is the aspect that we are currently trying to improve by building relationships both within the university and outside of it.  

What are your plans for the future? What will happen after JCU?  

I’ve applied to join JEItaly‘s Enlargement Department. If they accept my candidacy, I will be working with them to make sure that all their junior initiatives can start building their own reality in their own universities. Regardless of my possible employment in JEItaly, I will start a master in the fields of sustainability management, international management, or project management, hopefully in one of the three universities I am considering: one in Copenhagen, another in France, and the third one being Politecnico di Milano.

Finally, what advice do you have for fellow business students that are looking for opportunities?  

My recommendation is to look around and find out what the university has to offer. Specifically, I suggest looking into internships and, for business, marketing, or communication students, I highly advise looking into JERO. This is a huge, huge opportunity that everyone should consider taking.

Another suggestion I feel like giving to students is not to fear having too much to do, because if you really like it, you will find time to fit it all into your schedule. I’m not denying that my schedule is packed, and my sleep lacking. For one reason or another, I’m constantly in front of my computer or my phone. But then, when I finally go to sleep at night, I feel incredibly satisfied with myself and proud of my achievements.

JERO’s LinkedIn account.

JERO’s website (currently in renewal)