Transforming Businesses and Transforming Conflict. Member Spotlight: Fabiano Sannino

In the economic world, it is rather common for businesses to face periods of change, or better said, of transformation. In these instances, personalities like Fabiano Sannino are crucial to give renewed spirit to enterprises and imprint the vision forward. Fabiano counts more than 20 years of professional experience in this ambit, working closely with businesses as a Strategic Change and Transformation Manager. At the moment, he covers the role of Senior Change Management Advisor for the Coca-Cola holding in São Paulo, Brazil. 

Likewise, businesses are made of people and, inherently, conflict is quite likely to happen. That is where Fabiano’s great passion comes to play a crucial role. Indeed, he is an accredited Mediator Arbitrator, and Trainer, having worked majorly with businesses in cases related to workplace mediation. Not solely, he is a mediator in technology conflicts at Parana Industry Federation, member of the advisory council at the Project Management Institute of São Paulo, as well as past-president, and founder, at the Brazilian Chapter of Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP Brazil) Last but not least, he is an active member of the Participatory Committee of the São Paulo Municipality.

Fabiano has also been a member of MBBI since 2020 and took part in the foundation group of the MBBI Latin America Group, with which he is working intensively. 

Q and A with Fabiano

Welcome Fabiano, wonderful to connect with you and thanks for the time taken to participate in this interview. To warm up a little, could you introduce me to how your longstanding career started? 

Ok, thanks to you. I am originally from São Paulo, in Brazil, and it is the same place where I conducted my university studies, starting by undertaking electrical engineering at the Centro Universitario do Instituto Maua de Tecnologia to then advance to a post-graduation in Business Administration at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas and master’s degree at PUC-Rio de Janeiro. During my academic time, I became getting involved with a few associations, some involved with society, others more related to the business side such as Junior Enterprise, of which I became a branch founder within the university. Academic-wise, I recently terminated my PhD at the University of São Paulo, which allows me to teach as an Associate Professor in some universities here in Brazil.  

Regarding my career, I started it all as a Business Analyst trainee for Ericsson, and as a Senior Consultant for the company Ernst & Young Consulting. All in all, I began my career focusing on strategy and transformation management, and I kept on that path until today helping organizations to change their profile and the way they work. The focus of being a Change Manager is about understanding how a company can change to create a positive environment within itself, in a way that all employees are united and together, and in order to make the company being sustainably profitable. 

That is interesting, organizational environments are places in which conflict often arises. Is that the moment you intertwined with the field of mediation? 

Well, yes. As soon as I started working with organizational transformation, I began realizing I would have to co-exist with conflict every day. I understood that one of the most difficult parts to work with businesses is about conflict resolution and that is what pushed me to learn more about it, even though I had already been doing some mediation work with businesses without even knowing that was mediation. That was a mindset changer to me. Even if my evolution as a mediator was natural, it revolutionized the lenses through which I see the world now. 

My first experience as a conflict mediator was about volunteering in a court of justice in São Paulo, having to do majorly with civil and family conflict. I did that for nearly 6 years. During that time, I travelled to the UK to be certified as an arbitrator by the Chamber of International Arbitration, of which I am still an associate. When I returned to Brazil, I was invited to be part of the board of mediators from the Paraná Industry Association, which works with businesses and civil society. From that point on, my main areas of work have always been organizational transformation, change management, and workplace mediation. In the way I work with companies and organizations, I do not seek to solve problems directly, rather I aim at teaching people to solve their own problems, to reach the independence to create peace in their own environments.  

What is the status of mediation in Brazil, is that something well recognized? 

Unfortunately, Mediation in Brazil is still very much focused on the legal side of it, so that many people working in that area are lawyers. For sure they are good professionals, but the knowledge about mediation and conflict resolution is not well defined, both within the sector and the whole community. That is why I started to try to create such an environment here in Brazil, seeking to promote discipline across the community. That is also why I became a City Councillor for my neighbourhood in 2019, using this opportunity to transfer knowledge about mediation and conflict resolution through workshops and trainings.  

Your CV is impressive for the number of experiences you have embarked on. At which point of your career you find yourself now?

Right now, I am trying to build my own name as an independent consultant around change management for big companies. At the same time, I have been involved in several volunteering activities in the last few years. For instance, I have been part of the boards of both the Project Management Institute of São Paulo for many years, as well as I brought the Association of Change Management Professionals to Brazil. These are two professional associations focusing on educating better professionals in the areas of change management and project management. The aim is to form professionals that are not solely capable on the technical side, but they are equipped with soft skills, like conflict resolution awareness, and therefore equipped with more possibilities to grow in the market. For instance, with ACMP I organized many workshops and trainings directed at Change Managers for them to learn the principles of mediation and conflict resolution. Such experiences showed me that it is possible to bring international associations to Brazil to develop new ideas that are already working in other parts of the world. This is also in the spirit of MBBI. 

Well, since you mentioned MBBI, I would like to ask you more about your participation with MBBI, what convinced you to join the organization?

Firstly, I was surely struck by the vision and the history of the founders of MBBI. Secondly, I have to say that the encounter was natural, finding a group that thinks the same I do; that fundamentally peacebuilding skills can be accessible to anyone. We can build peace in our daily life, and we can promote the independence of any citizen to create their own peace. Along with my career, I have always been guided by this very same idea, to empower communities and individuals in any part of Brazil, Latin America, and the world towards shaping their own lives and the way they deal with conflict. Recently, we created the MBBI regional group in Latin America to coordinate across the whole continent, to do mainly one thing, that is mediation and peace promotion in many aspects of the communities here. This group is organizing many workshops at the local level and supporting the next MBBI International Congress in Quito. This is the reason I joined MBBI, we have the same ideas, and I would love to expand my knowledge on peacebuilding. To bring it here, to Brazil. 

Written by Matteo Piovacari: MBBI Writer