Riccardo Cichi ’96 MBA has been traveling the world since he was a boy. Born in Rome, he has also lived in Africa, other cities in Europe, Canada and the United States, and is fluent in four languages. A self-described “citizen of the world, but foreigner everywhere,” Cichi considers his home to lie within the institutions to which he is loyal – the University of New Haven among them – rather than the physical places he has lived.
As prolific as Cichi has been in his travels, he has been equally constant in his professional life, having spent his entire career at the Italian-based, billion-dollar international company, Pirelli Tire. He landed his first job out of college there in 1989, as a market analyst. But it wasn’t the company’s Italian roots or Cichi’s interest in cars that brought him there. It was something much simpler.
“They were willing to give me a chance!” he says. “I had applied for a lot of positions in so many fields, and I still have those rejection letters. That chance was very important, but the rest was up to me; it all depends on how hungry you are, how much you want it.”
Twenty-three years later, Cichi’s hunger has propelled him high up the ranks of the world’s sixth largest tire manufacturer. He was named senior vice president of Pirelli Tire, North America in January 2011 and is responsible for all consumer replacement tire sales in the U.S. and Canada. Under his leadership in this position and his previous post as vice president of sales and marketing in the U.S., Pirelli North America’s business has doubled since 2002 and now generates a half-billion dollars in sales annually.
“Pirelli gave me a chance, and I have been loyal to them in return,” Chichi says. “I have given this company everything – for me it’s my life.”
It was Cichi’s life with Pirelli that brought him to the University of New Haven to earn his MBA with a concentration in international business. Pirelli’s marketing operations were based in Connecticut at the time, and the company helped to finance his degree.
“I had many choices of colleges in and around Connecticut,” he says, “but the University of New Haven was smaller, more intimate. There were fewer people in each class and I liked that much better.”
Like his ties with Pirelli, Cichi’s loyalty to the University of New Haven has withstood the test of time. He proudly recalls marketing professor Michael Kublin asking for his input for a book on the growth of business in Southeast Asia. And he still keeps a term paper scrawled with words of praise and encouragement from another professor.
Cichi spoke to a group of newly admitted University of New Haven undergraduates earlier this year and encouraged them to make the most of such focused attention by their faculty, telling them to use it as a prerequisite to finding a career they will enjoy and therefore naturally excel in.
He also is very interested in the future of the University itself. In August Cichi will host a gathering of University of New Haven alumni from a variety of fields at his office in New York to talk about how they can work together, both personally and professionally, to contribute to the growth of the University.
“The University of New Haven is a great place,” he says. “After all these years, if I can give something back, I’d like to.”
Posted Fall 2012