Pietro Viola, a business consultant helping his clients with cartoons

Oct 24, 2021 544

BY: Chiara Venuto

Some people look up a new word in the dictionary every day, others draw a cartoon: Pietro Viola is one of the latter. He is an accountant and business consultant based in Palermo, but at night he “transforms” into a cartoonist: a passion that started during lockdown, and has only grown since it turned out to be a surprisingly valuable asset for his counselling business.

Pietro Viola’s, a “fun” job

“I didn’t want to become an accountant”, smiles Viola. “As a teenager, I played the guitar and I wanted to have my own rock band”. Being an artist was not a sustainable career choice, especially in Sicily, and this is why he decided to turn into an accountant. After high school, he immediately started working, and in the late 90s he opened his own counselling business.

However, his career changed because of music. His love for American artists inspired him to study the US market, and in 2004 he specialised in business internationalisation. He was also inspired by Mario Resca, former CEO of McDonald’s Italy, his work and his books. He then joined the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy (AmCham), where he met the representatives of some of the largest American multinational corporations. “It was a weird experience at first – he remembers – but 10 years later I was nominated the AmCham representative in Sicily”. Now Pietro is also the Ambassador for Sicily of the We the Italians network.

Viola never liked being under the spotlight. “I always wanted to have a low-profile career”, he explains. For someone who did not want to become an accountant, however, he lived many experiences and got to know lots of important businessmen. Today his job has certainly changed, since he mostly focuses on business plans and foreign markets: all of this to boost Sicilian enterprises. “This is a lot of fun to me”.

Cartoons, an unexpected communicative tool

Communication is a fundamental part of commerce and marketing. Viola has some experience himself when it comes to this, since he has also worked as a journalist for èItalia, a magazine for Italian expats. However, he never would have expected that a hobby started during lockdown would end up becoming an opportunity for his clients.

It all started like this: during the lockdown, he decided to start drawing again – a long lost passion just like music. “My father is a musician and a painter”, he explains, and he was a mentor when it came to these passions. He created a character, GAP, “a strange fella”. He started drawing him every night, travelling through space and time. Other than him, there were a few more recurring subjects in his drawings: Sicilian prickly pears (fichi d’india), references to American culture, and two tiny hands interacting with the viewer.

This tradition and family moment shared with his daughter turned into an opportunity for connecting with his friends, colleagues, and clients. “Almost 100 people asked me to send them my daily cartoon”. And those same people convinced him to open an Instagram page, to start selling t-shirts, calendars, or even to take part in some exhibitions.

A cartoon helps reinforce brand identity

Communication is important, but sometimes it needs to take unexpected routes to succeed. That is what happened to Viola and one of his clients. His client’s business had a LinkedIn page that only achieved 200 views per post, interacting only with family and friends. “I enjoy trying new things, and that’s why I offered to post one of my cartoons in his feed”. The post's views soared to 6200, exceeding all expectations.

“A drawing can put you in contact with another person more easily”, he concludes. He even managed to get more replies when he sent one of his cartoons than when he asked someone to get in contact via email. A small hobby born to feel better during the pandemic has turned into an opportunity to grow for both a professional and his clients.

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