Sergio’s story at Chiesi: from distress to achieving a dream
by Editorial Staff
Everyone should know the story of Sergio Di Fabbio, a man who struggled to make his dreams come true: to be well, to have a job, to feel that he is a part of this world, beyond any struggles he might have.
At seventeen, Sergio began to experience the first symptoms of a very disabling mental illness. He struggled to work and to interact with others. It was the beginning of a very difficult time for him. But this story has a happy ending. Thanks to Job Station, the job placement project for people with mental health problems promoted by the Associazione Progetto Itaca Parma with Fondazione Progetto Itaca and Fondazione Italiana Accenture, Sergio has now been working for the Chiesi Group in Human Resources for a year and is happy.
‘Chiesi has embraced my path and now we’re walking it together,’ he says. ‘The thing I love most about my job is working as part of a team. Perhaps also because of Covid and my illness, I lacked contact with others. At Chiesi, I met Arianna Conca, my manager, a discreet, kind person who understands me, as do all the colleagues and co-workers on the team.’
Sergio is a self-aware person; he knows that he is not just his illness. He knows he has developed important soft skills, such as empathy and the ability to listen and cooperate. And to companies he says, ‘Put us to the test, because we are good!’
“The Job Station project and the internship opportunity at Chiesi have given me hope for the future again.
I am lucky enough to have always had a wonderful family by my side, but a big piece was missing, because in my opinion, work is a very important part of a person’s identity.”
In a letter he describes how he was able to turn over a new leaf and write an exciting new chapter of his life.
‘My name is Sergio, and I am doing an internship with the Chiesi Group in Human Resources, in the Global Diversity&Inclusion and Wellbeing team. I started in July 2021 with data entry/archive duties for the training courses organised by the company, including those funded through Fondimpresa.
In order to support myself, I started working early, when I was 20 years old, and I did so for a long time, in different and very competitive sectors. I had a lot of responsibility and also did very well (for example, for about ten years I was a store manager in a chain of retail stores).
At some point I realised that the disorder I suffer from (and the arrival of a daughter) required me to take a break, to take better care of myself, to choose a different job.
I took some time out and got better, but in order to do that I had to leave the world of work for a few years: imagine how difficult it is to re-enter it, aged almost 45, in the current economic climate, and I did not want to go back into the large-scale retail sector… and I felt the need to hide the disorder I suffer from – despite the fact that I was already very stable – because I knew it would complicate things.
I am not afraid to say that the Job Station project and the internship opportunity at Chiesi have given me hope for the future again. My disorder had been under control for several years and I am fortunate to have always had a wonderful family by my side, but a big piece was missing, because in my opinion, work is a very important part of a person’s identity.
This internship is the ideal training ground for me to re-join the working world: to put myself back in the game by learning new things, to manage the anxiety that this entails, to make sense of my day again by structuring it into a regular schedule, to start building relationships again, and to regain confidence in myself. Just like in a gym, where you might be afraid of making a mistake, but that fear doesn’t paralyse you, because if you do you know that you won’t get too badly hurt and that you are surrounded by people who will help you. This last thing is very important: as soon as you join Project Ithaca you feel the wonderful, family-like atmosphere, so that it would be really difficult to feel alone or left to your own devices when facing difficulties; and my relationship with the company is also very good. Perhaps it is also because for the first time I am not playing my cards close to my chest, not having to hide. The fact that the employer is aware of my disorder, that they share with me the view that I am not my disorder, and that they are adequately prepared/supported in dealing with any problems that might arise… takes a huge weight off my chest and makes me feel free to give my best. With that weight gone, I feel free to show what I can do!’