Alessandro Galtieri, Colt Technology Services

It is fair to say that Colt Technology Services does not look out of place in its trendy environs of Shoreditch, East London. Decorated with the UK’s largest wall mural, which the company commissioned a collection of graffiti and street artists to create, the building comes complete with its own beehive, shortly to produce its first batch of honey. Colt’s deputy general counsel (GC) Alessandro Galtieri, ever the attentive host, proudly shows the artwork off when IHL drop by for a chat.

As both his parents studied law, it was perhaps inevitable that Galtieri would pursue a legal career, despite initial attempts to resist: ‘I did try to escape!’ he quips, ‘I wanted to do something else – I was passionate about astrophysics.’

However, he eventually realised he did not quite have the natural aptitude for maths necessary for an astrophysics career. ‘Maths is a language. Starting a career knowing I was behind others who had a natural fluency in the language, and that I would always be behind, was something which at 18 I wasn’t ready to consider. Law instead was a very familiar language because I had absorbed it by osmosis at the dinner table,’ he observes.

This early interest in maths and science has nevertheless stood him in good stead throughout his time in the legal profession. ‘One constant thread throughout my career is that I’ve always worked in hi-tech environments. I’m genuinely interested, I like to learn and I’m not afraid of the hard sciences.

‘My running joke is that I speak engineer. I am not fazed by all the three letter acronyms which engineers love throwing around the table,’ he adds.

The other attraction of hi-tech spaces is the ‘constant change’. As Galtieri notes: ‘It is impossible to stand still. If I look at some of the things I’ve done a few years ago, the tech has moved, the commercial environment has moved which means the contracts move.’

This marked curiosity has seen Galtieri’s career span several countries, multiple industries and a rapidly evolving technological environment. Undertaking his training contract in Italy at Studio Legale Tonucci, he worked with partner Fabrizio Cugia di Sant’Orsola, a leader in the telecommunications sector. Telecoms regulations had just been liberalised and there was a frenzy to get into the Italian market, providing Galtieri with a dynamic landscape in which to cut his teeth.

He followed Cugia di Sant’Orsola in-house after he accepted a job as GC of a newly-created telecoms company, Grapes Communications. While there, Galtieri won a scholarship for young European lawyers run by the British Council, which led to a move to London to work in private practice at Shearman & Sterling.

Part of the scholarship scheme included a week in Belfast participating in a series of lectures and social events. One day, Galtieri popped into an internet café to check his emails. Greeted by an empty inbox, he decided on a whim to check an old account, having paid for another ten minutes of internet.

An invite to interview at the European Space Agency awaited him. He had applied for the job the previous year, but since then had switched email accounts, forgetting that he had used this address for the application. Shortly afterwards, he was offered a job, and his plans to stay in London were stymied by a move to the Netherlands.

However, that was not the only pivotal thing to happen to him that day. At a party in the evening, he met a young barrister, who would later become his wife. ‘It’s one of those sliding doors moments, where you think, if I had not checked that email, if I had not gone to that party,’ Galtieri reflects.

At the European Space Agency, he worked as a contracts officer, operating across a range of projects, including the James Webb Space Telescope. ‘Every time I see one of those pictures, I know the incredible technical feat that it has been to create it. I’m a little bit proud that I was part of that.’ His time there even gets ‘grudging approval’ from his two daughters, aged 12 and ten.

‘Working in the science department, every mission had a new objective in terms of what they wanted to discover,’ he says. ‘You had the scientists who had imagined the mission on the back of a napkin and then, in the same canteen, you would bump into an astronaut.’

He responds diplomatically when asked about what astronauts are like in person: ‘Some of them have a really good sense of humour, but the vast majority… They’re a bit like pilots. They can be very focused on what’s interesting to them and not necessarily anyone else.’

After the European Space Agency, Galtieri worked at Interoute Communications and Hexagon, before moving to Colt where he has been for the last 11 years. Having joined as an interim contract lawyer, he is now deputy GC.

Colt announced on 2 November 2022 that it was buying the EMEA activities of the American company Lumen. In his current role, Galtieri is responsible for sorting out 18 regulatory approvals in 15 countries before the deal closes, a task he considers one of the most interesting, if challenging, projects he has undertaken in his career.

When considering his own management style, Galtieri explains: ‘There are different theories of leadership. I subscribe to one that is called the servant leader. My job is to help and empower and develop the team.’ He suspects this translates to his team finding him ‘open, long winded, and approachable’, and is quick to praise the in-house legal team at Colt: ‘I’m extremely lucky, I’ve got a bright, cohesive, hardworking team.’

The culture at Colt is something Galtieri is clearly passionate about. ‘This is a very respectful company. It respects everyone, it respects differences, it respects peoples’ contributions. I have a privileged position in that I can role model certain behaviours but also ensure other behaviours are prevented. If they do arise, they are dealt with. I take this very, very seriously.’ Colt has several DE&I initiatives, including a recent series where colleagues shared the impact of invisible disabilities on their working lives.

As with any legal career, it has not always been plain sailing. Asked to divulge a war story, Galtieri offers an example of an acquisition scenario in a previous job. After an all-night negotiation in Madrid, he and his boss returned to their hotel to find that their keycards did not work. An apologetic receptionist explained that as they had only booked for one night and, as it did not appear that they had used their rooms, the hotel team had checked them out. No other rooms were available, and the pair was left wandering the streets of Madrid in search of alternative accommodation.

After eventually finding another hotel, allowing them to shower and shave before heading back out to close the deal, the Spanish notary put a spanner in the works by questioning the signing powers of someone on the other side. Left scrabbling for a solution, the team had to fly a notary from the Netherlands Antilles to Madrid with a signed document. The notary handed the document over, then immediately turned on their heels to catch the next return flight. The deal was done, and the deadline met but, as Galtieri remarks: ‘It was the most expensive piece of notarial work that I’ve ever paid for!’

When it comes to external legal advisers ‘a very good understanding of the organisation’s commercial drivers’, is a must-have for Galtieri. He explains: ‘Colt has had a preferred law firm for more than ten years now. There is a whole generation of trainees and associates, some of whom are now partners, who have grown with the Colt account, and they know our business and our finance processes.’

The role models who have influenced Galtieri’s career include his old colleague Cugia di Sant’Orsola and his grandfather. He credits the former with being extremely commercial. ‘He could genuinely see around corners,’ Galtieri says, citing an instance where the partner asked him to draft a document for a client before it had even been requested. Lo and behold, the client asked for the document in the next meeting and they were able to produce it instantly.

His grandfather was a civil servant and copyright expert with ‘a brain the size of this meeting room’, Galtieri says. He represented Italy at several international conferences, and Galtieri describes him as a man ‘incredibly ahead of his time’. He has articles written by his grandfather, which are now over 50 years old, on a range of subjects. One, ‘A note on the protectability of computing software’ written in 1973, discusses copyright ideas a decade ahead of contemporary thinking on the subject.

Looking back on his career, the one thing Galtieri would change is the time he spent worrying about perfecting his technical skills. ‘One thing you learn with age is that businesses are run by people. If you understand people’s motivations, you will be a far more effective in-house adviser than someone who is technically perfect.’

Outside of the law, Galtieri loves to travel. He describes a recent family holiday to Morocco: ‘I was sitting on a dune watching the sunset. My daughters, on the other hand, were rolling down the side of the dune. Different ways of experiencing the same thing.’

He is also passionate about the theatre, recommending the ‘biting’ adaptation of an Accidental Death of an Anarchist at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and The Play That Goes Wrong. ‘If you want to have a laugh, it’s absolutely brilliant, seriously side-splitting. By the end of the two hours, you feel like you are wheezing!’ he says.

‘I love the Globe and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. I must have seen eight or nine plays there. I think it’s the best space in London. It’s candlelit, and it gives it such an intensity.’

The methodical, detail-orientated approach, evident in Galtieri’s professional life, carries over to his reading habits. ‘My wife was mocking me on holiday because I was reading China: A History by John Keay.’ For him, the book’s draw was its comprehensive timeline. ‘Europeans are always keen on the last two hundred years but, if you want to understand China, you have to go back much further.’

He is equally enthused about Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life. ‘A mind-blowing book,’ he reviews. ‘There’s a whole network that connects all the trees in a forest. It was believed that this was only to pass nutrients, but it is actually to pass messages, allowing one species of tree to message another species of tree that there is, say, a disease in another part of the forest.’

Galtieri’s career has spanned several countries and, while you can take the man out of Italy, you cannot take the Italian out the man. At the end of the interview he admits his guilty pleasure. ‘Binge shopping food at a specialist Italian deli website where I basically spend a fortune on stuff I could get for a third of the price in Italy, but I can’t help myself!’

At a glance – Alessandro Galtieri


1997-2000 Associate, ITC department, Studio Legale Tonucci
2000-01 Corporate affairs manager, Grapes Communications
2002-02 European Young Lawyer Scholar, Shearman & Sterling
2002-07 Contracts officer, European Space Agency
2007-08 Senior legal counsel, Interoute Communications
2009-10 Assistant general counsel, EMEA, Hexagon
2011-now Interim contract lawyer, then deputy general counsel, Colt Technological Services

Colt – key facts

Size of team 40, plus another 15, including regulatory and legal operations
Preferred advisers Baker McKenzie, Bird & Bird, White & Case