Learning how to build dialogue
I grew up in a small town in Puglia, a beautiful region of whitewashed towns surrounded by ancient olive groves, vineyards, and sun-bleached beaches in the south of Italy. I left home at 19, went a thousand miles away to enrol in the Gorizia Graduate School for Political Science and Diplomacy, and started my journey to becoming the person I wanted to be. Gorizia is a cultural melting pot; divided in two between Italy and Slovenia, it was chosen by the School’s founders as a symbol of division and cooperation. After Gorizia, it was Paris and after Paris, it was London, where my dream to attend the legendary LSE came true. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to study with personalities of the caliber of Giandomenico Picco, former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, Luigi Vittorio Ferraris, former Italian Ambassador to Poland, Germany and OSCE, and former LSE Director Antony Giddens, the man behind Tony Blair’s “Third Way”, to name a few. I cannot overstate the importance of the many mentors that over the years have built my confidence and given me the sense that “anything is possible”.
When I went from philosophy and journalism to the corporate world, many people wondered if I had suddenly given up on my ideals. That was far from the truth. In fact, joining one of the world’s most criticized companies (and industry) was a stepping-stone in my personal growth, in that it allowed me to practice what I had believed all along: solving complex issues requires relentless dialogue and cooperation among all actors involved. Governments, academia, businesses, civil society groups: none of these are self-sufficient. The COVID-19 pandemic has made that extremely clear.
An ‘unconventional leader’
I have often been called an “unconventional leader”. In my article “How do we re-define leadership?” I have discussed the limitations of the very word “leader” but, semantics aside, I do interpret leadership as, first and foremost, listening, sharing, empathizing, and serving. For me, being a boss is about knowing I have the responsibility to pull the best out of the people working with me. And to pursue initiatives that maximize the outcome for everybody. I also dare to think that this is quite a female characteristic, which has been brilliantly exemplified by how some of the current world’s female political leaders are managing the unprecedented challenge of the pandemic. We learned the hard way that we can no longer afford self-driven leaders that indulge in the rituals of power and pursue the satisfaction of their egos instead of the interest of the communities they lead.
In 2020, I decided I wanted to embark on a new journey, one in which I will combine my expertise and a stronger sense of purpose. To get started, I launched this website, where I regularly write about some of the issues that are important to me and also affect millions of people, such as gender parity, the health of our democracies, leadership, and civil and human rights. Closing the gender gap is an issue particularly close to my heart. The scarcity of women’s influence despite their numerical majority, and the resulting untapped potential of their contribution, needs an urgent fix. I discuss this topic in my article “Why can’t the world’s majority have it its way?”. In order to amplify the voices of some of the remarkable women that contribute to advancing the gender balance, I founded Women in Action, a think tank that aspires to gather society’s best energies to promote a culture of equality. I consider it one of my top priorities to contribute to achieving the right female representations in all the venues where decisions are made, starting with governments and parliaments. One of the things I am most proud of is that, as a corporate executive, I managed to reach a perfect gender balance within my function.
The difference I want to make
I believe that we all need to stand up to our duty to help reduce the economic and social injustice we still witness every day, and which the pandemic has exacerbated and made more visible. And I believe in the power of working together even if we do not agree on everything. On some level, we are all moved by the same basic needs, and on that basis, we can all make sure that at least some of our daily actions are targeted at making someone’s life better. As Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
Life is made of big ideals and small, daily actions that can make them happen. Among those small daily actions are also the little things we do for ourselves to nurture our inner balance. If I’m not reading, writing or working, you will likely find me on a yoga mat, listening to a new music record, running along the lake of Lausanne (where I’m currently based), tasting a new wine, or planning my next trip. I also spend quite some time mentoring younger talented women and men to help them develop confidence and pursue their ambitions.
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