A confident man in a business suit stands with his arms crossed at a marina.

Lucio Gabriele Ciullo

About me

Lucio Gabriele Ciullo is a NATO Finance Officer with an outstanding career in the defense, aerospace and maritime industries. He served as an Italian navy officer for 17 years, performing several duties, operational and managerial, across different sectors and locations on land and on board. In these roles, Lucio Gabriele Ciullo has been involved both in complex industrial projects management and high-risk environment operations.

Leadership is one of his core competencies. He believes in the power of the team and the “leave no man behind” mindset is one of his stronger points, while integrity, loyalty, accountability and professionalism are a must. His winning and “can-do” attitude along with his eclectic academic knowledge and public exposure experience make him able to develop and lead diverse cross-functional teams working together toward established objectives.

shapeLucio Gabriele Ciullo
case2NATO-OTAN Finance Officer
mapPointItaly (based in France)
studentExecutive MBA

"I’m learning so much in a very short time. On one hand, I will gain a competitive advantage in my industry, but I am confident I will also be a critical person for future opportunities in other industries and even in the world of entrepreneurship."

Lucio Gabriele Ciullo

Please, tell us about yourself—your education, professional experience and hobbies.

I am a polyhedral leader with over 18 years of experience in the defense industry—six of those years in the field—across different roles, sectors and locations, with extensive knowledge of international relations and governmental partnerships. I am skilled in managing positions with high public exposure, relationships with stakeholders and public relations, and developing networks and synergies in multicultural environments. I have a Bachelor’s in Naval Law and Public Management, as well as four master’s degrees: Naval Law and Public Management, Law, Business Management and Business and Company Law. I also have an Executive Diploma in Public Procurement. 

Both my academic background and expertise make me an interdisciplinary player, where I am able to support individuals and organizations in the delivery of ambitious and complex projects as well as in the development of structured programs. At the same time, I stand out for my propensity for innovation and digitization of processes, hence embracing and leading the change while remaining flexible and adaptable to emerging requirements. I am a former Italian navy officer—a lieutenant commander—currently working as finance officer for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

My hobbies include football, tennis, motorsports, food and wine, and traveling.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge is confirming my leadership at work. Leadership is not something owed but something that must be earned in the field by daily example: by consistency, righteousness and honesty. 

Being a leader comes with great responsibility. The team should believe in the leader and trust him. They need to receive his positive influence—his energy—every day, feed on his enthusiasm and work in the direction he indicates. Being a leader means taking care of people, making time to listen to them and looking beyond the professional to see the person in front of you. How did I overcome it? By working seriously and with self-sacrifice every day.

What do you think your biggest strength is and how has it helped you stand out in a highly competitive industry?

My military background, my leadership and my eclectic academic knowledge make me a flexible mind. I am able to take initiative, bringing new perspectives and fresh ideas. I improve a solution if there is one already, or I find it if there is none. Moreover, by being trained to be detail oriented, I can recognize cause-and-effect relationships even when the big picture rapidly changes.

These abilities make me a skilled project manager even when everything happens simultaneously. I’m resistant to stress. My ability to remain calm in the face of adversities and conflicts, and to manage crises, contingencies and emergencies definitely helped me stand out in my working environment.

Why did you decide to pursue the Executive MBA at IE Business School? What factors influenced your choice? 

I had no doubts about my choice from the beginning. I have always aimed for the best when it comes to my professional education. IE Business School’s structure and organization, along with its administrative staff and professors, are superior. In addition, it has a diverse student population as well as broad participating industries that far surpass other programs like this one.

Having built an impressive career in the defense, aerospace and maritime industries, how will the Executive MBA add value to your career?

In my opinion, each industry represents a macrocosm with its own dynamics and laws that mark it out. To date, I have spent my entire career in the defense industry and for me, the Executive MBA is a unique opportunity to interact with amazing professionals from different industries that can enrich me with their experiences and different visions. I’m learning so much in a very short time. On one hand, I will gain a competitive advantage in my industry, but I am confident I will also be a critical person for future opportunities in other industries and even in the world of entrepreneurship. We have a saying in Italy—“appetite comes while eating”—and that’s exactly how it works for me.

Why did you decide to take part in the Global Immersion Week? And what guided you to choose Dubai as your destination?

One of the added values of this program was the opportunity I had to directly interact with market players and participate in talks with business experts of a specific international hub. For me, it was a unique chance to expand my knowledge about international business markets, coming in contact with both long-standing multinational companies and startups entering the entrepreneurial world. I have always been fascinated by Dubai’s ability to build not only a city but an entire international hub in a few decades. Their resilience, mindset and enlightened approach toward the future are a source of inspiration for me, so I had no doubts when it came to choosing my destination.

In general, what would you say was the most interesting experience for you during this Global Immersion Week?

The whole week was an amazing experience thanks to an impeccable organization and a very interesting agenda, both in terms of companies I interacted with and cultural and tourist points of interest I visited. We really got in touch with the local culture—an aspect often underestimated but represents one of the most important elements in the international business world.

Google, Cisco, Uber—you had the chance to meet with real heavyweights from leading companies like these and more. Which business leaders inspired you the most? What did you learn from them?

I had the opportunity to meet some of the most visionary companies of the contemporary era; companies whose products and services are now part of our daily lives. It is difficult for me to crown one of them as the most inspiring. However, I would point to Google for its constant work in improving our lives and especially its continuous search for technological solutions to improve the quality of life of people with communication disabilities. I was impressed by what they have been able to do and the projects they are working on. Meeting them in their HQ was an unforgettable experience and having had the opportunity to talk to them was a unique source of inspiration and motivation.

While in Dubai, you also got an opportunity to connect with industry leaders through various networking events. How do you think this networking opportunity will benefit your professional life?

I firmly believe in the power of networking. Developing my network is one of my priorities. Today, it is critical to create strong and wide connections. In Dubai, I was invited to several networking events and I had the opportunity to meet industry leaders, as well as alumni integrated into the local business system and other professionals operating in the UAE. We talked about the projects we are working on and about the current geopolitical and economic situation. We also shared information about the Dubai business ecosystem and swapped contact information for future professional collaborations.

In your opinion, what are three of the most important insights gained or lessons learned from this experience?

  • The importance of a clear overall vision. Dubai is the result of a well-defined vision. The key to its success lies in the strategic planning behind the city’s conception and seamless expansion.
  • The relevance of an ecosystem designed and created to support and facilitate the emergence of new businesses and opportunities, as well as the importance of economic growth strategies designed to attract foreign investment and capital.
  • The strategic value of networking: “Connecting minds, creating the future” is not only the slogan of Expo Dubai 2020 but also the city’s inspiring principle. It is in the air and you can feel it clearly right away.

How will your time at IE Business School, and enriching experiences like the Global Immersion Week, add value to your career?

IE Business School designed its Executive MBA on precise core values such as social innovation, diversity, inclusion, humanities and entrepreneurship. These values are fundamental in the rapidly changing world and business environment we are experiencing today. The program along with all the experiences related to it have provided me with deep, key insights to best address managerial challenges at the senior and executive levels.

What is the most important piece of advice you have for other students pursuing, or intending to pursue, the Executive MBA?

The Executive MBA is not just a university program, but a journey to be approached with an open heart and mind. Set out with a goal but do not let it determine the journey if you want to fully enjoy its value. Embrace diversity because mutual exchange is 50% of this journey, which will lead you to share moments of joy and sacrifice with amazing people.