Another week and another awesome woman in tech that just blows me away. I had the pleasure of meeting Stefania on my last trip to Italy. Her husband treated us to a home cooked dinner and we enjoyed wonderful conversation, wine and maybe too much cognac. But that’s another post all together.
When we’re discussing global women in tech we’re not only bringing you global women that live, eat and breath technology, daily but who are active leaders, as well. The beauty in these women is they’re not perfect. Their life experiences are what you have the pleasure of reading about. Stefania has worked for major international brands, but as you’ll read below, she’s not impressed with fluff. Her strategic approach and professional mindset is something we can all learn from.
I’m looking forward to working with Stefania in the near future, but I digress. Therefore, without further ado I would like to introduce another European Women in Tech, a woman I admire and for whom I have the utmost respect, Stefania Boleso. You can follow this super-smart woman on Twitter, read more about her professional career on Linkedin, or contact her directly, through personal site, or her latest venture Trademark-You.
1. What are some of your “rules” for effective leaders?
I think a good leader has to inspire. It’s not about hierarchy and power, rather it’s about helping other people grow and develop their potential. Being a boss is easy, being a leader is much more difficult!
2. Are you doing what you love and getting better at it? How? What skills allowed you to start?
Yes, I am happy to say I am doing what I love. I have been working in marketing my entire professional life and I love that, maybe this is the reason why I also started teaching it to both university students and professionals: to share my knowledge and passion.
Working in marketing and above all in digital marketing is a never ending learning experience: environment changes, consumers change and therefore if you want to perform at your best, you always have to be informed, to know what is going on and how both trends and technology can have an impact on what you do. It is a never ending learning process, and I love that!
Since I decided to study marketing at university I think my greatest skill has been curiosity, and in my opinion, this is still the most important skill if you want to work in marketing: you must be curious enough to understand what the consumer insight is, what consumers’ hidden needs are, but also curious about what is going on in the world, as you can find sources of inspiration everywhere.
3. How do you empower your team?
Working as a “solopreneur“ means I don’t have a fixed team, rather a flexible one: I work with different partners on different occasions and projects. I try to empower them exactly the same way I try to empower my clients: sharing my knowledge and helping them become more and more independent in what they do.
4. What will you do today that will matter one year from now?
I will write the index of the book I was supposed to start writing already, at the beginning of 2014. If I am good enough, by the end of 2015, it will hopefully be ready.
5. Delegating is not an easy task… what do you delegate?
I can delegate almost everything if I trust the person I am supposed to delegate to.
6. How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
I was talking about creativity with a client just a few weeks ago. Creativity to me doesn’t stay in one special place or with one special person. Each one of us can be very creative. It is, first of all, a matter of curiosity, that leads you to change perspective, think different and connect apparently not-connectable dots. The best way to encourage it is to let employees experiment and take their risks, showing them your support.
This is also the best way to get great ideas (question below), as great creativity often leads to great ideas!
7. You have two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
Apart from the “gut feeling”, I would try to find out more about these two candidates, try to understand what their “human side” is: passions, interests, etc.
An ideal candidate to me is not just the one who got important achievements in corporate life, rather also remarkable experiences in his private life. And then I would choose the one that to me seems more suitable as a whole, if you understand what I mean…
8. Your number one advice to someone in a new leadership position?
Show who you are with your behavior and your actions, rather than with words.
9. If you could have lunch with 3 great women in history alive or dead, who would they be and what would you eat?
The first one would be Rita Levi Montalcini, a remarkable Italian scientist, Nobel Prize in 1986, who passed away just a couple years ago. We would probably eat pizza or pasta, traditional Italian food.
The second one is Rosa Parks, the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement in the US. I would love to spend Thanksgiving with her, eating the turkey.
The third one would be Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and with her I would enjoy some good Mexican food, maybe some tortillas or fajitas (and a good frozen daiquiri on the side!).
10. Are you doing what you love, would you do things differently to get there?
I love what I am doing and if I could change anything I would just start working by myself earlier in life. This is my suggestion: if you have a wish, or a dream, just go for it. Don’t wait for Godot, as he may never show up. Go and try to get what you want as soon as possible.
11. Your favorite story about a success or a failure you have learned from. Could be a stalker, could be a failed client… we want to know about your process.
This is not my favorite story to tell, but probably the one I learnt most from: when I came back from my maternity leave 5 years ago, I was laid off by the company I had spent 10 years with, the company I helped built from scratch and lead to success. At first it was a real shock, but then little by little I realized that they could fire me, but not take away from me all the skills and knowledge I developed during the years. And being aware of that gave me the energy and passion to make the big jump and take the big decision, that is leaving corporate life to start my own business.
12. You are well known in your niche, how are you helping other women (if you are) and giving it forward.
I am not helping just women. I am helping both men and women, from my students to my business partners or my customers, that need me. I am always happy to help, give suggestions and advice.
13. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I am a bit shy. Some people confuse this with snobbism, but it’s not. It’s just that on some occasions I feel better with myself than with others and I prefer spend time observing and learning, rather than chatting.
14. How can we as women make the world a better place?
I think the world would be a much better place if there were more women in top/key positions. We have a lot of qualities we often show in our private lives, that we should also use more in our professional lives. We should stop behaving like men in work places, we should be brave enough to break the rules and create new, different role models for the young generation. This would be a real disruptive approach and for sure it would make the world a better place.