Meet The Professionals | Andrea Vincenti – Co-founder of Wazo

My name is Andrea Vincenti and I am the co-founder of Wazo (www.wazo.es), spanish non-profit cooperative that generates positive impact in rural areas. We empower people from rural areas to promote positive impact in local communities. Wazo cooperates and develops projects for social transformation of rural areas and promotes participatory leadership by means of innovation and creativity methods for positive changes. Our social action areas are: Social & Solidarity economy (Ethical and values-based approach to economic development that prioritizes the welfare of people and planet, over profits and blind growth) and Creative Cultural Industry (Good, services and activities of content derived from cultural, artistic or heritage origins: music, crafts, literature, visual arts, performance arts…)

Wazo supports public institutions, local/regional administration, municipalities and social & solidarity economy organizations in their projects for positive impact in communities by the co-creation and co-design of social programs, awareness-raising campaigns, training programs, publishing and editorial services, events organization and inspiring talks and conferences.

My work in Wazo Coop is the development of projects with valuable and meaningful effects in rural communities accordingly to social, economic and environmental sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations 2030 Agenda. I am the publisher of Wazo Magazine the free collaborative magazine published by Wazo Coop (ISSN 2444-1201). One of my favorite projects is www.archeoandrea.com an online platform about archaeology and social action.

Describe the path you took to get from university to your current role – what were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

I have a degree in Archaeology and Conservation of cultural and natural properties by Università di Pisa. As a recent graduate I worked as manager in some investment banks for some years. Later I moved to Spain and I joined a research group of University of Extremadura for PhD Studies. In 2015 I decided to change my life and cooperate with a group of people with the same views and values to create positive impact in society and generate opportunities for communities of rural areas. That is why we co-founded Wazo.

The key challenges of my pathway throughout university to my current role took place in my years working in investment banks. Those were hard times. I was recruited because of my skills in communication and creativity but those skills were not all what I needed to do my job during the first period. Fortunately I had very skilled fellow workers that unlocked my potential and taught me what University did not. They taught me a lot about marketing, project management, economy principles… and the importance of soft skills updating.

This challenge and the learning experience helped me to understand the importance of the development of soft skills in addition to hard skills to overcome the tasks of the daily work. Nowadays I keep updating my knowledge in hard and soft skills. Training is the key to success!

Andrea Vincenti during a conference in Spain
Andrea Vincenti during a conference in Spain

When you reflect on your education and training, what were the gaps in terms of preparing you for becoming a professional? And what were the most important skills that your education gave you to enter the job market or start your business?

I had the chance to know the academic sector in Italy and Spain. My experience was great in both countries and I gained exhaustive knowledge but I felt the lack of useful complementary subjects for labour integration in the field of culture.

My job is related to the development of creative industries and social & solidarity economy. The academic knowledge that I acquired in University enables me to properly develop my job: accurate project design and management, conduction of detailed researches, production of well organised texts, selection of reliable resources, etc

The most important skills that I had to acquire after university were: Organization and sustainability of projects (canvas methodology, design thinking…), new professions (independent researcher, project manager…), ICTs (social media, software…), etc I developed those skills thanks to my jobs and training.

What ‘top tips’ would you give arts and humanities students who aim to start a business or develop their professional career?

Regarding to my personal experience, my advice to Arts and Humanities students is to complete their education and training with complementary and soft skills. It is very important to have a strong knowledge in the main topic of the university studies, but it is also essential to know how to turn it into sustainable projects and communicate it to other people.

Students and professionals of Arts and Humanities have very useful creative skills to apply in different jobs, projects and personal development. So my second top tip is “trust in yourself” and your related “arts & humanities” superpowers, they will allow you to have access to different business and professional careers. If you have a clear goal, go for it! Work hard to achieve it.