19. Februar 2010

This must be Alfredo Scarfone today.

God’s Business

Let me tell a story.
A business life can be a pious life, a good life.

Back in 1970, when I headed a small group of computer technicians in Milano, Italy, it was my job to hire more of these – at this time – quite rare animals. I even had designed an analytical test in the office bathroom. There were two washing basins with mixing warm and cold water faucets. The warm water however was unavailable, closed at a central faucet. I had set up the experiment in such a way that when you opened a cold water faucet on one basin water came out at both basins. The analyst to be tested had to explain this – after his shock to be led into the toilet as assessment.

At this time I had the good luck to hire Alfredo Scarfone. He was very gifted, as man and as technician. Later we hired his good friend Alberto Panni, who was, if I remember well, good too, but less ambitious. We had a very interesting time with Hewlett-Packard in these early days of minicomputing, debugging one of the first real-time operating systems, as well as a time-sharing “executive”, and later in Cupertino, California, and Geneva, Switzerland, the early HP 3000 mainframe. Two years later, when the group dissolved back to their home countries, Alfredo had returned to Italy, I continued in Germany.

In Italy Alfredo had been living in some sort of commune, spiritually connected with Alberto. We in the office did not notice much of this. They rarely spoke about it. I might not have understood the special circumstances, and frankly it didn’t interest me much. It was their private life. I was happy playing with computers, and still am. I lost sight of Alfredo, but I knew that he grew to be manager of Hewlett-Packard Italy for many, many years. Astonishing this stability in a top position.

Yesterday I remembered Alfredo’s religious engagement, looking for a positive example of applied piousness. So I asked Google what became of it.

First I found a short biography of Alfredo; he must have been a speaker in Abu Dhabi in January of 2009. The picture of Alfredo comes from this site.

Alfredo Scarfone is president of Centro Culturale di Milano, a title he has held since September 2004. In 1962, he worked in the computer division of Olivetti and afterward in General Electric Information Systems Italia as a specialized technician and, later, as an instructor. He worked for one year in the USA in Phoenix, Arizona, for General Electric in the technicians training branch. Mr. Scarfone began working with Hewlett Packard in 1970 in Ginevra [Geneva, Switzerland – fj] as European Specialist of Communications in the services of time-sharing. From 1978 to 1983, he was the director of staff [personnell manager – fj] for HP Italy. In that period, the staff of the society grew from 300 to 700 people. In January 1986, he was appointed general manager and commercial director, positions that he held for more than 17 years. In 2000, he founded a society of managing advisors (ALPAS S.r.l.) and served as the sole manager. Mr. Scarfone was awarded the Rosa Camuna Prize in 2003 for his work in Lombardy. He constituted small commercial enterprises in Kazakhstan and Lithuania in order to train young, local entrepreneurs. Mr. Scarfone founded the Banco Informatico, of which today he is the assistant director. He has cooperated with the “Fraternità dei Missionari di S. Carlo Borromeo” as an advisor for the missionaries’ works in the world since 2004.

When I looked for Alberto Panni, I literally hit his tombstone. Alfredo had written an obituary for Alberto, and had the generosity to allow it to be published in the Internet. I find it very touching. I don’t want to pick personal details, it would not be proper for an outsider like myself. But there is one sentence, for which I envy, ashamed, those two close friends: « Quanti progetti abbiamo fatto assieme per cambiare noi ed il mondo. » – How many projects have we done to change ourselves and the world.

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