Richard: I'm Italian, but my dad is half German, which is where I got my name, Richard. My parents both grew up in Rome. My grandparents live in Rome. I grew up between London and Frankfurt. When my parents decided to move back to Italy, they were looking for an international school in the center of Rome. We chose St. Stephen'sand I spent all four years there.
Davide: I'm also Italian. I grew up in Rome. We lived in the U.S. For a few years. And when we came back, my parents also wanted an international school for me, so I went to Ambrit, attended Ambrit until I was thirteen, then I did two years in an Italian high school and eventually ended up at St. Stephen's.
Richard: They were very fun high school years. I think the biggest things to come out of it have been our friendships. Davide and I were also very close in high school. Many of my closest friends today are from St. Stephen's. School trips are also a great memory. Oh, and visiting the Palatine Hill at night [laughs].
Davide: There's something which I haven't done anymore since I left. I don't know if it's still feasible [laughs]. For me, it was the trips. I played football, so I also went on all the football trips. As Richard said, we're still very good friends, and what's pretty surprising is that many of my good friends are also not from my grade now. Many of them were a year below me at St. Stephen's. It's nice how the groups become mixed over time. We have formed a strong bond.
Richard: I went to Berlin for a year which I realized was a place I would want to live in long term. Then, I went to study in the UK, first at Sussex University, and then, after that, I did another gap year where I worked in Bosnia and Vienna. I moved back to the UK, did my master's in London, and then moved to Berlin, where I live today.
Richard: I studied international relations at Sussex, which was the reason for my gap year. I wanted to work in international policy, so I interned with the Australian Embassy in Vienna and then at UNDP in Bosnia, in Sarajevo, which informed my master's. I studied Security Studies, the study of war, and conflict resolution for my master's. After that, I moved to Berlin and pursued a different path.
Davide: I've also been kind of all over. I went to [Università] Bocconi for a semester in Milan. I didn’t like it. I went to the UK and earned my bachelor's degree in PPE--Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. I took a gap year in which I worked at FAO in Rome for six months, and then I traveled, went to Australia and Indonesia, and then I did a master's in Paris in Public Policy at Sciences Po, worked in Paris in the public policy space for a year, at the OECD.
Richard: Beyond OLLMOO's social mission, which Davide and I, and everyone who works there, strongly believes in, the biggest motivation behind OLLMOO's founding was the honoring of Oliver.. He was a very close friend, and Katherine, the CEO and Founder, is his mother. Olly passed away in a ski accident five years ago, and that is why we all work together now. OLLMOO was launched in March 2022. We've been active for almost a year, and I've been working with OLLMOO for a year and a half. When I joined Katherine, we just had a logo and an idea. Katherine had wanted to do this for a long time; she has a background in talent search; she spent twenty-two years working at Spencer Stewart, one of the largest executive search firms in the world. Over the course of her career, she realized there were so many talented young women who didn't have the same opportunities and access to the positions that feed into leadership positions in the future. Her mission is to help women early in their careers succeed and, in this way, contribute to forming the next generation of women leaders. Tied to this, after her son's death, she wanted to honor his legacy, and part of that was to have his closest friends on the founding team. So, I started in May of last year, I spoke to Davide a lot about it, and he was taken by the project.
Davide: I don't have much to add. I wanted to work on something I could feel was in some way mine and could contribute to and build from the ground up. Working With Olly’s name in mind, in his honor, has also been a big motivator. With OLLMOO, we are trying to connect women with jobs and be a point of reference for the women in our community throughout their careers. I recently had a conversation with a young woman who wants to go work in finance and has an amazing curriculum but was concerned about applying to M&A jobs because she thought, being a woman, that her profile would be given less consideration; she was excited about being part of the OLLMOO community and receiving support to apply for her dream job. And we know that working in banks, high-stress environments, and environments that are often pretty toxic for women can lead to women being given fewer opportunities. So we try to be a partner for all the women in our community throughout their career journeys, supporting them, helping them negotiate wages, for example assisting with anything career-related beyond finding a job. We organize workshops, events, and so on.
Richard: We are, in essence, a recruiting firm, but we want to be a lot more – we are guided by our social mission, and our mission is to create a community, the OLLMOO community, a network of peers where women have mentorship opportunities as well. Everything we do will remain free for young women wishing to sign up and be part of the community. We recently started a free 12-week cybersecurity course. Cybersecurity is one of those industries and fields which is the most underrepresented; on average, 90% of professionals working in the industry are men. So we partnered with this awesome hacker in North Macedonia, Eva, and she's leading the course.
Davide: Absolutely. Our only requirement is that they identify as women. We're open to everyone.
Richard: You can register with OLLMOO on our website: ollmoo.com. Upon registering, you can join "OLLMOO Connect," where you can find tips on choosing a university or writing a CV. We have created a space where women can access resources and interact with their peers, all in one place.
Richard: It has been challenging. There are so many hats to wear. We have our job titles, but ultimately, we do everything together because it's a small team. Currently, we have Katherine and four other full-time people, ourselves included. I guess the biggest challenge for us was the tech side. We had to learn by doing and seeing what worked. Right now, we're building an internal tech team. It's good to have that in-house. We've learned.
Davide: We have new challenges every day. Another challenge has been that neither of us have backgrounds in human resources nor the private sector, but having an open mind and a desire to learn every day helps us get through and, hopefully, will help us grow in the coming months.
Richard: It's never boring. Every week you do something different. On my side, [I have enjoyed] the business development calls; it's always interesting to talk to external people and partner with universities worldwide. Talking to universities from Nigeria, Malaysia, and Europe is interesting.
Davide: I think the best part is that whenever we're having these external discussions with people outside our network, it always resonates so well, and everyone is so excited about our work. There's so much support for what we're doing, which is, I think, the best part. As Richard said, our partners are also a highlight; we partner with NGOs and private companies. There's a lot of excitement around what we're doing.
Richard: For me, there are two things. Davide and I share a passion for cooking. I am also really into climbing, squash, and football. I'm very sporty.
Davide: I spend a lot of time surfing on the weekends and when I'm not working. So that's my biggest hobby.
Richard: That's why he lives in Lisbon!
Davide: Exactly [laughs]. Working remotely is amazing for that. As soon as the work day is over - when it's over - sometimes it doesn't finish before midnight, but [laughs], at least on the weekends, I spend a lot of time at the beach.
Richard: It is great. We have also noticed that it's nice to work in the same place; for example, we go on retreats together, and sometimes we find ourselves in Italy at the same time, or Davide will come to Berlin. Being able to travel and not be in a fixed place is a massive advantage.
Richard: Get into computer science [laughs].
Davide: St. Stephen's allows you to do many things you don't get to do in other schools. So, do what you like as much as possible, and don't think you will figure out your life in the next five years [laughs]. At least for me, we never really figure out what we will "end up" doing; it's always a work in progress. I started following one track and changed universities, and countries.You never know what's around the corner, so try not to worry too much.
Richard: Very well said [laughs]. What you study for your undergraduate [degree] will not necessarily be what you do in life, so try not to stress. So, choose early and remember there's always room to change career paths and do something different. Try to choose something you genuinely enjoy; then, things will materialize, and opportunities will come up later.
Davide: And feel free to get in touch with us, both current students and alumni who have their own companies and do their own recruiting. We would be happy to hear from you.