Camilla, from agronomist to Head of product

by | Mar 13, 2023 | xfarm people

A life in startups, a passion for agri-tech, and a cattle dog named Nanga

Camilla, what is your role at xFarm?

I’m a Head of product, halfway between sales and IT. I’m the head of the product team. Our goal is to translate market needs into technical requirements that lead to the development of a new feature or technology within the platform. The input usually comes from farmers, supply chains, agricultural machinery manufacturers, or other entities related to the agri-food sector.

The first priority of my job is to keep the product development roadmap up to date with the market and competitors, and to ensure that we meet the deadlines agreed with customers. We also make sure that we are always up to date with the latest innovations and monitor new technologies that we want to introduce into our platform. 

How does one become a Head of product?

In Italy, there is no specific way to get to my position: I studied agricultural science and specialized in crop production and protection. After graduating and passing the professional exam to become a licensed agronomist, I spent some time volunteering in Brazil. Once back, I founded Wapi, a startup aimed at creating a digital field notebook, with some students from the Polytechnic University of Milan. We participated in a pre-acceleration program at Bocconi University with B4i (Bocconi for innovation) and then at the Luiss Hub. After a little over a year, Wapi was acquired by xFarm. I then joined xFarm as digital product manager.

A life in startups! What was it like to go from being a startup co-founder to a member of a scale-up?

That’s right. I have only worked in startups. I’m also part of the generation that started working right before or during the Covid-19 pandemic. So I can’t imagine an environment that isn’t xFarm, agile, and dynamic, with fast processes and little bureaucracy, where colleagues often accompany me outside of work too.

I strongly believe in the potential of innovation in agriculture, so I have continued to act as if the project is mine. I still have the freedom to express myself and share my vision with the team, which is essential for me.

How did you adjust to the new working environment?

I was hooked from the start. From day one, I have had both independence and responsibility. On my first day, Matteo (Vanotti, CEO of xFarm Technologies) said to me: “Camilla, there is a bug in Irrigation. Please fix it.” Having just arrived, I had no idea what the Irrigation module was. By asking everyone for information and with Daniele ‘s help, I finally solved the problem.          

I sometimes work from home, but I prefer to go to the office; I like interacting with people face to face. Every day is filled with calls, planning and discussions with the team. Sometimes I visit customers at their companies. But I don’t travel as frequently as the commercial team. During my lunch break, I always have a walk in the park with Nanga. 

So your dog comes to work with you?

He does! One day, Matteo saw me here at the end of the day, and he asked me: “Where’s your dog?” I told him the dog was at home – I happen to live across the street from the office. He replied: “Why don’t you bring him here with you?”

Since that day, Nanga has come to the office with me every day. He has his workstation, and his business cards; he’s even on Slack. He spends his day between naps, cuddles, and cookies and keeps everyone’s spirits up.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy being an active part of product development. Gathering feedback from the market, communicating these needs to the technical team, and analyzing the new technologies available in order to have a competitive product, makes my job dynamic and always full of new stimuli. At the same time, it makes me very proud to know that all these efforts will help tens of thousands of farmers to be more efficient and sustainable in their daily work.

Any particular challenges?

As a 28-year-old woman leading a team in the agri-tech sector, I sometimes  feel like a rare bird. Unfortunately, there are very few women in this industry, which offers many career opportunities. When I joined xFarm, there was only one other girl in the team, but now there are eight of us.

I’m afraid I’m in a role that few women feel they can fit into. I believe that xFarm Technologies is an inclusive place where everyone can express their potential. Just two months ago, another woman joined the product team. That makes me very happy.

The craziest moment since you started working at xFarm?

I spent several fun evenings with Nicolò [ Barbano, Head of Marketing], coming up with treasure hunts and puzzles for our colleagues: Nicolò and I are part of the team that organizes the xDays – the retreat that xFarm offers to all employees every six months. We organize almost all of the activities. This year, just before Christmas, we were in Barcelona, where we organized a lot of logic and creativity games for team building. Then, when we went to EIMA, we hired a venue where we could all stay together for a wonderful party with colleagues and some influencers as well.

And the strangest place you’ve ever worked from?

Three months ago, I opened Slack (our company chat) on Machu Picchu. I think I set an altitude record. 

What do you see in the future of your career?

I would like to see xFarm become even more established on an international level. I would like to continue to grow with the team and take on more responsibility in order to have an even greater impact on the entire supply chain of the agri-food industry.

Contact the sales department