Sabrina Corbo: curiosity is the engine of success

The Green Network Group was founded in 2003, to offer Italians renewable energy (wind, biomass and solar) with competitive rates.

In 2016 the group became the first independent Italian company in the UK. Today it supplies electricity and gas to domestic customers, also boasting prestigious clients such as the Italian embassy in London. The idea of launching in the UK was the brainchild of Chief Executive and Executive Vice President, Sabrina Corbo. She tells us about the company’s vision and its ambitious future challenges.

How does the job of entrepreneur change in the fourth industrial revolution?

An entrepreneur is someone who has the ethical, civil and legal responsibility to innovate and find strategies and solutions. We need to have a vision that can be kept alive today. The world is changing rapidly in relation to the digital technology we choose to adopt.

Personally, I consider myself a very curious person and curiosity creates creativity. That’s why I have always said that business is the greatest creative activity. It gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to create new models and business opportunities. Digital helps us with this. It allows us to have a global approach, abandoning the status quo of the old entrepreneur and embracing innovation instead, without staying in one’s comfort zone.


As a successful Italian company in the UK, how do you experience Brexit?

We began in the UK just a few days before the Brexit vote, so the risk was expected, weighed, and evaluated. Nothing changes for our business. We sell and buy energy within the UK under English law so there are no risks in this respect.

However, with regards to human resources, there seems to be more unwillingness for European workers to come and stay in the UK. From this point of view there has been a change and it’s a shame because, for us, talent does not have a nationality.


Italians have historically been great entrepreneurs and innovators. Yet Italy is always a little late in adopting technology – isn’t this a paradox?

It is a paradox because from the point of view of capabilities, Italians are truly formidable. Anglo-Saxons have a pragmatic attitude that helps them because they welcome and adopt what works in a relaxed and spontaneous way.

Italians, on the other hand, tend to be lovers of tradition. By our nature we tend to cling to our comfort zone: what works does not change. In Roman times we colonised the world, but then we slowly closed in on ourselves. To the point that centuries later it was the Anglo-Saxon world that was the true great coloniser.

Perhaps this is a quality we should learn from the English. Who have never lost their desire to discover and “colonise” other countries with their ideas and mindset.


Artificial intelligence promises to change the rules of the game. For many that’s scary, for others it’s a great opportunity. How much AI is in GNE?

AI doesn’t scare us. Our primary asset is the customer. When I have a direct and faster relationship with my client through AI, this helps a lot. It becomes an added value that I can no longer do without.

It is a form of process optimisation, also from an operational sequence point of view. It helps to reduce not only the cost but also the time, which are the most precious resources we have. Just think about how much time we waste to optimise old and obsolete systems. A business’s time should instead be used for something else, to innovate, analyse and change course.

Green Network Energy strongly embraces AI because it would be impossible not to. No AI would mean having a low level of productivity and entrepreneurial ability. Thanks to AI, our customer service has a face, creating a one-to-one relationship with the customer. We are a smaller company compared to other competitors on the market, and this aspect is fundamental. I like to define Green Network Energy as an “energy boutique”. Our value is precisely this: to pamper our customers by building a sincere and direct relationship with them.


Bringing innovation to the company is not possible without qualified, technically and culturally trained employees. Do you have any reference model in this?

Transformations must be accompanied, and our model is based on the involvement of all parts of the company. For example, if we talk about creativity we do not expect this to only come from a creative team. We apply various types of brainstorming and development.

A practical example is our social library: every employee is invited to bring a book that inspired them, no matter if it’s economic, political or innovation. We choose reading as a quality KPI, as it’s a way to compare ideas on development and what inspires us, which can be enriching for the team. The idea of the social library was born almost by chance. It happened on a couple of occasions that I missed a flight because, despite having arrived early, I was “lost” in the airport library… It was at that moment I realised it was necessary to encourage professionals working with me to read and study. So we can understand which ideas can be applied to the company.

Mental stimulation helps effect change and ensures we don’t take things for granted. The average age of our employees in the United Kingdom is 25. In Italy it’s around 30. Study and analysis of global economic phenomena must stimulate everyone. At the base of everything, there is the concept of sharing opinions that I personally believe to be a winner.


How will Green Network Energy change over the next five years?

The company has just received a license to operate in France and in the coming months will enter that market. In fact, we will become the only Italian company in the French market, like we are the only Italian company in the UK market. We will continue this international expansion and our organisation and structure will grow accordingly.

My dream is an independent Italian family company in the world of European utilities. Maybe thanks to Salesforce, we will be able to give our customers a single account and password to manage all their utilities in different countries. The goal is to unite the different European countries rather than divide them. The regulations in different countries vary but a customer who works in multiple countries and only has to deal with a single supplier who manages everything with a single platform is a great solution.


What does it mean to be a trailblazer?

For Green Energy Network, being a trailblazer means lead by example, believe strongly in your ideas and do not be afraid to fail.

Curiosity must lead to development. But it must also be accompanied by the courage to embrace new ideas, develop them, and try out different solutions without giving up. That’s what I’ve always done personally, and I’ve never asked my employees to do something that I wasn’t ready to do first.


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