The recently appointed business executive officer of Nespresso Malaysia weighs in on her move to the country in the middle of the pandemic, taking the Swiss pioneers of portioned coffee to new heights and her own rituals relating to imbibing, travel and the art of living well
Options: Welcome to Malaysia! How has your time here been like so far?
Floriane Novello: Thank you! I am happy and honoured to be here in Malaysia with my family! Despite the difficulties linked to the pandemic, we immediately felt the warmth and extraordinary welcome of Malaysians. We can’t wait to visit and fully appreciate this extraordinary country that has opened its doors to us, making us feel at home right away.
Your predecessor grew the Nespresso business in Malaysia from scratch. What is the next step for it, and how will you grow the brand further?
My predecessor was called to plant a seed. Thanks to him and the team, they selected the seed, it germinated, and the plant grew tall. Now, it is our responsibility to nourish this plant so that it can flourish and bear big fruits.
We are going to do this by continuing to invest in communication and consumer engagement, expanding our physical and digital presence to be available to our customers, and continuing our sustainability efforts. Once the market reopens, we will be focusing on our professional line.
Which is your favourite Nespresso coffee?
I prefer coffees of balanced profiles with notes of wood and cereals. I undoubtedly find these qualities in a Nespresso classic coffee: Roma.
Sustainability is a huge part of the Nespresso brand. How do you plan to further reinforce that message for Malaysian consumers?
Sustainability is rooted at the heart of everything we do at Nespresso; the goal is for everyone to join us on the journey to reduce, reuse and recycle while enjoying our best coffees.
‘Doing is everything’ is the message that Nespresso Malaysia launched in April through a work of art created with recycled capsules by the famous Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi to share the importance of taking action to protect the future of the planet Earth. The key focus is to expand our recycling capacity and engage our customers to be part of this journey.
Being Italian, you must have your own specific rituals relating to having a cup of coffee.
The coffee ritual in our house takes place in the morning, during breakfast, before each member of the family begins his or her daily activity. It is an intimate family moment, probably the best part of the day that I take care of. Nespresso Roma espresso for me and Arpeggio Cappuccino for my husband. The day starts only when the coffee aroma spreads through the house.
Prior to Nespresso, you worked with Ferrari. What lessons do you bring with you from there?
My experience in Ferrari started right after obtaining my master of business administration. I was lucky enough to be working in Ferrari when president [Luca Cordero di] Montezemolo, Jean Todt and Michael Schumacher were there. It was an era of great successes that still make people dream today.
In Ferrari, I found a great passion for the brand and a unique sense of belonging: Everyone was proud to be part of that special world. What I took to Nespresso from my Ferrari experience, besides the importance of being passionate about the brand, is the ability to combine the search for beauty and design with a well-structured engineering approach.
I gather you majored in Arabic in university — that’s an unusual choice!
My home country, Italy, has over the centuries been at the crossroads of countless cultures, each of which has left important traces. The signs of Arab culture have particularly stimulated my interest and sparked in me the desire to deepen it through the study of language and culture. On top of that, I like challenges and, after learning several European languages, I wanted to take on a very different one.
What books or TV series are you bingeing on right now?
Books have been an important part of my life since my childhood. Whenever possible, I love to read them in the language in which they were written to be able to appreciate every nuance. I consider them both a time machine and a treasure chest; they allow me to relax, to travel, to reflect, to grow and to improve as a human being. My readings in this period range from The Divine Comedy, which I resumed on the occasion of the year dedicated to Dante Alighieri, the father of the Italian language, and Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, which deals with a theme dear to me —equal rights.
What does your new home in Malaysia look like? What is on your shelves or walls?
For our family, contact with nature is very important. This awareness was strengthened after our experience of living in Switzerland. Here in Malaysia, we have chosen to live in a house surrounded by greenery that allows us to be in close contact with the lush and extraordinary Malaysian nature.
Inside, the house is essential and functional, almost minimalist. The dominant colours are white and grey. But the absolute protagonist of our ‘Malaysian nest’ is the light that enters from the windows that allows us to enjoy the green of the plants even from the inside. To interrupt the white of the walls, only a few paintings by my father: They represent the indissoluble bond with my origins and my hometown, Venice.
What do you love most about living in Kuala Lumpur?
Without a doubt, the aspect that strikes me most is the people, the Malaysians. Their courtesy and kindness have been extraordinary since our arrival, despite all the difficulties we face in this particular historical moment.
Of all the places you’ve lived in, which has been your favourite, and why?
Starting from my hometown, Venice, passing through my experience in Damascus, Syria, where I completed my degree thesis in Arabic language and culture, passing through Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Modena, Milan up to Lausanne, Switzerland, every city I have lived in has a special place in my heart. I’m sure it will be the same for Malaysia, which managed to win me over despite the peculiarity of the moment.
Looking back, Switzerland is a very nice place to live in, particularly Lausanne, as you are surrounded by breathtaking views of the lake and mountains. So, you can enjoy nature and do many sports, from swimming, to hiking and skiing.
Once borders open, where would be your first port of call for a holiday?
As a Venetian, I really need to be close to the sea, breathe its salty air and enjoy its waters! There are plenty of options available in Malaysia: I wish to go back to Langkawi, to snorkel in the beautiful waters off the islands of Perhentian and Tioman or enjoy the food and coast of Penang. There is also a great desire to visit the magnificent Borneo rainforest, one of the most magical places on the face of the Earth.
This article first appeared on Aug 23, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.