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WTP Session in Rome

14 Jun 2013 14:51 | Deleted user

Prior to the WIL Biannual Event hosted at the Villa Medici, WIL members and Emerging Leaders gathered in Rome for a very special Women Talent Pool session to discuss the question of how to adapt one’s leadership style to a complex, challenging world. Thanks to the Scientific and Economic Mission of the French Embassy in Italy, this meeting could take place in the impressive Palazzo Farnese, and the Ambassador Alain Le Roy himself came to open the session and to encourage the young talents in their endeavors.

WIL co-founder and Women Talent Pool coordinator Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Health Director at Microsoft EMEA, welcomed the participants and audience and introduced the objectives and activities of the WTP. She specifically emphasized the importance of networking and forging connections between all generations of leaders. According to WIL board member Katherine Corich, CEO of Sysdoc, many types of successful leaders exist today outside of traditional models, but it takes courage to embrace them. Leadership, she stressed, is defined by change and how one adapts to it. She then introduced the Emerging Leaders who had been selected to share their particular leadership experiences:

In this sense, WIL Emerging Leader Marie-Hélène Briens, Sales Manager at Orange Business Services, compared leadership skills to the effects of innovation. By equating innovation with a light in the darkness, she underscored the innovative potential of leadership that embraces change and new ideas, thus functioning as a guiding light. She also claimed that women have a stronger capacity to listen, which is key to developing a more collaborative style of management.

Anne-Lise Thieblemont, Senior Director of Government Affairs at Qualcomm, also emphasized the importance of challenging oneself, for example by going global or trying a new sector. According to her, skills are important, but even more so the will to achieve great things.

The role model aspect of good leadership was elaborated by Racha Abu El Ata, Cloud and Hosting Partners Team Lead for Microsoft, who considered leadership the quality to inspire motivation and energy, but also a talent can always be improved.

Claire Monne, Head of External Agricultural Policy of the Trade and Development Division at the French Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industry, spoke about her particular career path, starting out as a trained veterinarian, and how this scientific training allowed her to develop better diagnosis skills and to create her special leadership brand.

Finally, Martina Weimert, Vice-President of Financial Services at CapGemini, also shared her insights into what makes a good leader: team performance and the ability to create the conditions which encourage the team to be innovative and to succeed. On another note, customer centricity should always be a central guiding principle for a leader and her team.

The audience of this event was then able to compare the ideas and experiences of the emerging talents to the testimonies given by seasoned leaders from the WIL network. Especially moving was the presentation by Ourania Ekaterinari, Deputy CEO of Public Power Corporation S.A., who talked about her difficult leadership role in the dramatic context of Greece’s destitute economy. She stressed the importance of honesty, integrity and humility when faced with having to make difficult decisions and the need to communicate well one’s motivations. On a more positive note, the current crisis has forced Greek women to reposition themselves in the economy and to take over the role of the breadwinner in the family.

Rita Tenan, Public Sector Director for Microsoft Italy, spoke about her leadership experience, working closely with public administration entities to simplify and optimize the sector. The key to her path, she said, was open-mindedness and the ability to keep seeing the world with a child’s eyes. She urged the Emerging Leaders to not be too hard on themselves and to find the right balance.

Finally, Mary Dupont-Madinier, Partner of VALTUS Transition, elaborated on her experiences dealing with change management and how it has become an important aspect of every company. This need to manage uncertainty requires humility, authenticity and a diversity of approaches, key aspects that call for the ideas and competencies of young leaders in particular.

Thus, the WTP session was a great opportunity for the Emerging Leaders to learn and grow from the advice of role models with decades of experience and knowledge, especially in challenging situations of transition. Apart from that, it was also an experience for the young talents to show off their public speaking skills and the confidence they gained through their participation in the program, whose next edition will be launched during the second biannual event in December.

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