Ernesto Coppola, Coppola Foods, on Rick Astley, coffee and vintage Italian comedies | Profiles and Q&As

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What was your first-ever job? My summer job was as a quality control assistant in our family’s tomato cannery in Salerno in Southern Italy.

What’s been your worst job interview? I applied for an internship in an investment bank while doing an exchange program at a university in Paris. I could not speak French and only once I was in front of the interviewers did I realise the extent to which the Italian language is not the same thing as French.

What was the first music single you bought? I believe it was a Rick Astley single, Never Gonna Give You Up, which seems quite funny in hindsight seeing as RickRolling took hold of the internet.

How do you describe your job to your mates?  I make canned tomatoes and tomato sauces and sell them across the world. Together with tomatoes I also make a wide range of great tasting, healthy and sustainable Italian food products.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job? Seeing people enjoying our products, becoming good friends with our long-term partners and distributors in different countries around the world, and having our team grow both professionally and at home.

What’s the least rewarding part? Before lockdown it was spending too much time flying (not always as fun as it sounds). Nowadays, that’s flipped on its head – I spend far too much time on video calls!

What’s your motto in life? Be passionate about what you do and don’t give up in the face of challenges.

What’s your nickname? Ernè as everybody in Southern Italy tends to shorten names.

What’s your favourite movie? Vintage Italian comedies, they’re the perfect movies to relax in front of and have a good laugh with the kids!

What’s been the most embarrassing moment in your life? Falling asleep during a meeting in Japan straight after a long-haul flight from Europe…

What luxury would you have on your desert island? Coffee and a Neapolitan moka pot to get my wake-up espresso in the morning.

What animal best reflects your personality? A bull. I’d like to think persistence and hard work can bring you far.

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