During the last few weeks, we had the great opportunity of interviewing Francesco Mascarino: a talented Italian manager within the defense sector. Mr. Mascarino is now the founder of the AFB SYSTEMS firm in the United Arab Emirates. Let’s have a look at his background and future ideas!

Francesco, can you tell me about your academic and professional background? How did you reach your current position at such a young age?

My academic background is rather normal, I’ve done a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Business and then, after a few years in the sales role, a MSc in Business Administration with a specialization in Sales and Marketing. What really got me started in this industry was my passion for it, especially for Defense and Aerospace, but also regarding Intelligence, derived mostly from my family.

My great-grandpa was in the Italian Navy and participated in military expeditions in China in the early 1900s, both my grandparents are/were officers in the Italian Army and my father is a Colonel in the Army as well. So we can say that in our family being around soldiers, and going in and out of bases and officers’ clubs is something rather normal. I’ve grown up hearing stories from my grandpa regarding his times as the Defense Attache’ in Bucharest during the 1980s, with the Romanian “Securitate” following him and his team everywhere and hiding bugs at the restaurant tables where they would sit, and also I lived indirectly all of my father’s years in the army, from living in the US for his 3 years at the NATO HQ in Norfolk to his experience with the Sassari Brigade during their deployments in Afghanistan. So when I had the opportunity to enter, as an intern, in a company dealing Defence and security systems I wasn’t able to resist, even if I was thinking of a more regular career as a business consultant. I believe that having a passion for this industry is fundamental, especially as it allows you to know most of the topics which are usually dealt with during meetings and shows who’s sitting at the table with you that you know your subjects even if you’re quite young.

FRANCESCO MASCARINO ON DUTY– IDEX EXHIBITION

Could you name some of the most influential figures on your professional path?

Honestly, a lot of people were very influential to me throughout my career. In this field, you never stop learning and even the lowest grade police officer on the field can influence quite drastically your knowledge and approach to things by showing you how to conduct a certain operation. I’ve learned a lot from many different people, from every rank and culture, it’s very hard for me just to name only one…

What’s your advice for future generations in this complicated sector?

I believe that it is not an easy sector, especially for young professionals and even more so in Italy, where it is very hard to get rewarded properly for your professionalism and work. So I would suggest it only if you’re extremely motivated and passionate about it. The industry is crowded with lots of ex-military and ex-agency professionals, with lots of real experience and a great network on their backs, so it is a very tough competition and also quite a long path to arrive at a decision-making level.

Regarding work skills, for sure you must be flexible all-round, very discrete, as a person and also on social media, and I think also quite humble and always ready to learn. In this industry nobody likes who talks too much or posts too many pictures publicly, it is always better not to name your clients and references rather than doing it. I don’t think you must have certain particular skills to be part of this industry, the important thing is to be quite smart all around, have a decent poker face, and be pleasant with the people you have in front of you.