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Elisa Serafini: driving innovation in public affairs

“Liberty is not part of my family tradition. Nobody was interested in politics at all.”

“But when I was in middle school I read a book called ‘Philosophy for Everyone,’ and I came across the idea of liberty. Then in high school I learned about John Locke, Voltaire, these kinds of philosophers, and I just thought, ‘This is the most efficient way to live in a society–to respect liberties.’”

“I really love diversity. I love the fact that people can have different religions or different views.”

“And that’s why I applied to join Students For Liberty.”

“The first time I came across SFL was when I went to Arizona State University for one semester. And honestly the best experience I had in Arizona was [being a part of] SFL. The annual conference was in Phoenix that year, I was an immigrant and Students For Liberty was able to involve me in a lot of activities.”

“So when I was back home in Italy, the SFL conference there meant even more to me. We never we had high-level economists or opinion-makers in our universities. And that conference led me to think you can actually do great stuff in Italy. Even if it’s a small country. I saw students from SFL making a difference and they were like 20 years old – this was an example to me. I realized we can do things to improve people’s lives.”

“So after seeing that I founded my association for technological improvement in public administration. And that was a big part of starting my career in public affairs.”

“It’s a job where you deal with democracy. You deal with the unions, you deal with information, you deal with politicians and institutions. You have to align those interests and try to create something that is valuable for your company or the mission that you have. These are all the things that I like the most. And I was named in Forbes’ list of top public affairs people under 35, which was fun.”

“I was elected deputy mayor in my city in 2017, but I resigned after a year because of the corruption. I love politics as a temporary service, as something that people do for a limited time. But in Italy, I don’t believe in the job of the politician. Whenever a person tells me they supported this whistleblower or decided to resign or make a public statement because they had the example of me giving up my political career, it’s super satisfying.”

“And I learned that from other people. Like from the activists at Students For Liberty.”

“Now I work with Glovo, a delivery app that’s popular in Europe. My objective was to create the conditions to have Glovo and the trade unions sit at the same table with the needs of the unions and the company to be aligned. The free market has a [major] role in that, because this company is located in a very regulated market. What I wanted to do was to show these kinds of companies can actually help industries that are in crisis.”

“I targeted industries like taxi drivers, agricultural entrepreneurs and hotels, which are all in crisis for different reasons, and I asked them to work with Glovo on different projects. With transparency and with a lot of interest alignment, we were able to do that.”

“I think I will have my proudest moment this month, because there will be the first-ever formal negotiations between unions and the delivery industry in Italy. This is impacting 30,000 drivers and 10,000 employees, and a lot of politicians that were involved in the delivery. Another proud moment was when I published my book, because it was a true libertarian thing – it was done with crowdfunding and Amazon.”

“I would tell other young women to be determined and disciplined. Do not look for a short path and shortcuts, because it takes a long time to build a reputation, the credibility and the expertise to work in public affairs or to do politics. Then you have that for the future for all your life. My advice would be that and to not give up, even if it’s more a man’s world in politics, it’s changing.”

“It’s a long road, but it’s worth it.”

EIisa Serafini

Milan, Italy