We catch up with Dr. Francesca Balbi on our data centre project in Milan, Italy, as part of this #PeopleFirst interview. A recent addition to Kirby, Francesca has spent the majority of her career in academia, researching and teaching international and European law. It’s a calling that has allowed her to fulfil her passion for travel, having studied in Luxembourg, China and Australia. She’s now the HR lead for our colleagues in Italy, as they deliver a large data centre project in Milan.
“I have found my calling,” says Francesca. “Working at Kirby is a challenge that allows me to apply my legal knowledge to real-life scenarios, ensuring compliance and helping colleagues from across the world adjust to life in another country,” she adds.
“We have people joining us from Ireland, Greece, the UK, Croatia, Romania, Brazil and Egypt. It is a culturally rich and diverse project and group of people. We learn from each other every day, bringing with us our lived experiences and knowledge. It’s a great place to be,” she says.
Francesca is responsible for the entire HR life cycle for the project, onboarding, immigration, the coordination of the admin team, tracking employee travel and accommodation, and working with authorities, trade unions and subcontractors. “No day is the same,” she tells us.
“I started the role in Ireland, flying over to get up to speed on the way Kirby works. I am incredibly lucky to have the support of those systems and my team, while developing and evolving processes to adapt to the Italian legal system and ensure the people on the ground can concentrate on what they do best,” she adds.
Francesca completed her PhD at Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy, concentrating on recognition and enforcement of legal judgements abroad. She has also managed EU-funded research projects. “I loved academia but wanted to be able to apply the research I was doing to real-world, fast paced scenarios,” she says.
After leaving academia she joined international HR firm Randstad at its offices in Italy. She worked in its legal business department, providing advice on employment law and managing commercial contracts. Here she discovered – and become passionate – about the world of Human Resources.
Francesca has two interns to the project. Kirby offers international placements to its graduates and summer placements, and with projects across mainland Europe, there are plenty of opportunities for staff to work abroad and experience other cultures.
“Milan is a thriving city, with people from across the world moving to Italy to deliver infrastructure projects like ours, and the nightlife, food, cultural events, festivals and concerts make it an attractive place to work and live.”
“That alongside Kirby’s commitment to investing in its people, make Italy a very attractive opportunity. I have never experienced a company going as far as Kirby does to make sure its employees have a smooth transition from country to country. It means that as far as the people on the ground are concerned, their focus is purely on the project, the quality of delivery and their own safety. There are no distractions, no worries. It is an incredibly caring environment,” she concludes.
To find out more about careers abroad, go to: https://careers.kirbygroup.com/.