Get to Know Emanuela Stocchi
Related information: IBTTA's 2017 Initiatives, a member letter from Emanuela Stocchi
IBTTA’s 2017 President and Director of International Affairs, Associazione Italiana Società Concessionarie Autostrade e Trafori (AISCAT), Rome, Italy
Bill Cramer, Communications Director for IBTTA recently sat down with Emanuela to learn a bit more about her background and interests as she prepares to lead the organization in 2017 as its president.
Q. How did you become interested or begin working in transportation? Tell us a bit about your work in the transportation industry.
I became interested in transportation when I was working in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, also the heart of the European Union. I went to Brussels after my university degree in political science, with a specialty in European law and policies, intending to stay there for six months as a trainee in a law firm. I very much enjoyed the city, the international atmosphere, the conferences, the people, and I decided to extend my stay as a trainee with the European Commission.
After that, it was time to find a more permanent job, and by then I was very interested in transportation. It was the end of the ‘90s, the European Union was consolidating the construction and functioning of the Single European Market, and transportation links were and still are the backbone of the Single Market. It was a very interesting time to learn, and to follow the new legislation being written to consolidate and further promote European transportation policy.
So, I sent my CV to transportation associations and think tanks, and I had the chance to meet with ASECAP, the European Association of Toll Highways Concessionaires, whose Secretary General Kallistratos Dionelis was just opening the organization’s headquarters in Brussels. Looking back over the many years, we often say we were the pioneers of the ASECAP offices in Brussels. I worked there for the next seven years, before moving back to my hometown of Rome. Thanks to ASECAP and its members, I had the chance to meet IBTTA and I am very happy for that.
How long have you been a member or involved with IBTTA?
I attended my first IBTTA meeting in 2000, when IBTTA held its annual meeting in Madrid. ASECAP had a booth in the exhibition area, and I was immediately fascinated by the competence and the professionalism of IBTTA members and staff, and the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the association. After that meeting, I continued my interaction with IBTTA and attended several meetings in Europe. The first U.S. meeting I attended was in 2008 in Philadelphia. This cemented my involvement with IBTTA, and I have been attending meetings and interacting with members across the globe ever since.
What is the number one benefit you receive by being a member of IBTTA?
There are many benefits I receive from my membership in IBTTA. It’s a unique association and community. It is a group of competent professionals, very engaged in advancing our tolling industry, in defending and promoting the value of toll-financed transportation and looking for solutions aimed at providing citizens and customers with safe, smart and efficient mobility.
IBTTA works hard in many ways, through its committees, task forces, educating members through meetings, webinars, and IBTTA SmartBrief. It’s a strong, engaged community of men and women who have built not only professions, but relationships. This community of friends, this network, is so powerful. Every time I go back to my country, to my office, I write a report to summarize for my colleagues and to my members all that I have learned about Interoperability, maintenance and roadway operations, highway safety and infrastructure financing. In these reports, I try to convey the tremendous spirit of cooperation and friendship that I find when I am with IBTTA. This value is not common elsewhere, believe me.
Tell us about your theme for the year – International Mobility Connections
My theme for the year is directly related to my international background, both personally and professionally. Due to my studies and experience in Brussels that brought me to visit other countries and to be in permanent contact with other people, cultures, languages, I have chosen to put the accent on “INTERNATIONAL,” which is also the “I” in IBTTA. In 2017, I would like to highlight and stress that IBTTA is a place where it is possible to exchange and share knowledge and ideas to expand our international tolling industry and improve mobility and services for customers and citizens.
MOBILITY follows a path initiated by Javier Rodriguez in 2015 with his presidential theme, and continued by Buddy Croft during his presidency in 2016. Mobility as a service, and the wider concept of mobility, can only expand the conversation of tolling and transportation.
And finally, CONNECTIONS, refers not only mobility and transportation links. It’s about connecting people all around the world and exchanging knowledge and ideas within the tolling industry. It’s one of the several added values of being an IBTTA member and attending IBTTA meetings. I also want to mention previous presidents such as Javier Rodriquez, Mike Heiligenstein and Rob Horr, to name a few, who never forget the importance and the experience of the IBTTA past presidents. Because I do believe in CONTINUITY, I think the IBTTA presidency should have a close connection with past and future presidents.
What do you see as the two or three biggest opportunities in surface transportation today?
As I said earlier, transportation is the backbone of our global economy and society. Through that lens, the latest technological developments represent a great opportunity for the transportation industry. We need to keep pace with these developments and be ready to apply and deploy new technology tools and opportunities, while remembering our role as toll operators and businesses. We must strive to provide smart, safe mobility to our customers and welcome new technology, remembering that our concessionaire companies have outstanding experience in research and in applying new tools to established toll networks.
Infrastructure financing presents another opportunity for surface transportation today. Tolling can be one of the most reliable and efficient tools in the toolbox for financing highway infrastructure, not only for construction, but for improvements, maintenance, and expansion, without placing new demands on government funds.
Finally, I believe that all the representatives of surface transportation should cooperate more. We have a great deal in common with other parts of the transportation sector, and we should be creating opportunities to share information, knowledge and ideas with them and collaborate more broadly. I really appreciated the initiative of Immediate Past President Buddy Croft last year with the organization of a Transportation Visioning Summit, gathering several representatives of mobility and transportation industry organizations in the United states. It was a very interesting meeting, and the group discovered several common interests and challenges.
What role does IBTTA play in building practical solutions on these issues?
Our members have the expertise, the knowledge and the competence to tackle the issues I’ve been discussing, and to deliver the best mobility solutions. That’s why I encourage people to attend IBTTA meetings, but also to join a committee, to bring their expertise and knowledge to be shared with the IBTTA community. Each of us has a role, and each of us can contribute. At IBTTA, we share knowledge, ideas, solutions, experiences, projects, initiatives, and we get results because of our shared commitment to the objectives and the mission of our association.
What is your favorite food?
There are a lot! My favorite, is “involtini di melanzane”, a sort of aubergines roll filled with parmesan, parsley, ham and cheese. My fiancé, Daniele, who is an excellent cook, prepares this food for me quite often. He spoils me!
What is the best thing about living in Rome?
I love my hometown. I decided more than 10 years ago, to leave Brussels and come back home. Rome can be congested and chaotic, but then when you walk around the city and downtown, you feel immediately immersed in the history. There are so many things to do and places to visit. Therefore, I am very happy to welcome IBTTA to Rome for our International Summit in October 2017. I do hope everyone will experience the same feelings I have for my hometown.
Share with us a little bit about your passion for music and singing?
With great pleasure. I started studying music with my older brother, Corrado, who is a professional violinist. I then started singing in the church choir in my neighborhood when I was eight years old. Later, I continued in a larger choir that sang several times at the Vatican. When I lived in Brussels, I sang in an International choir and had great musical experiences in Belgium and other European countries. Music and singing are more than just a hobby for me—they’re a real passion! It takes time, energy and commitment, but it is a true and real pleasure when you can express through your voice what you feel inside you. My fiancé, Daniele, and I met because of singing. We perform together quite often and it is a bond, a common engagement that strengthens our lives.