Emerging leader Claudia Collacchi, Senior Financial Analyst at Qualcomm, participated as a moderator for the first time at the WIL Bi-Annual in Madrid, where she led a great tete-a-tete session with WIL members Pinuccia Contino, Head of Unit Communication and Relations with Stakeholders, DG for Translation at the European Commission and Mary Honeyball, Member of the European Parliament.
Based in Rome, Claudia has been working for Qualcomm for 13 years, making her way from Associate Financial Analyst to her current senior level role. She is responsible for the forcasting of cash flow positions, manages the preparation of the company’s budget and outlooks, and conducts several other finacial research and analyses. Prior to joining Qualcomm, Claudia gained experience working for Credit Suisse Italy at the Private Banking office.
WIL caught up with Claudia to ask about the experience of moderating her first session, and to learn more about her experiences working in the ICT sector and future aspirations.
WIL: You’ve been working at Qualcomm for 13 years now. What has the experience of working at one company for a long period of time taught you?
Claudia Collacchi (CC): Working within a US based Multinational Corporation for such a long period I have seen many changes in the regulatory and reporting landscape, particularly with the fallout from corporate scandals during the last decade. The integrity, brand, and ultimately shareholder value of a business is underpinned by having a strong internal reporting and compliance framework, so keeping pace with that environment whilst supporting a fast moving industry has been an interesting challenge for me. Such an experience has taught me to constantly look to improve on all fronts, strive to add value in my everyday activities and adopt a resilient attitude.
WIL: Before joining Qualcomm, you worked at Credit Suisse Italy. How is working in the banking sector different from working in the ICT and what makes the latter more attractive to you?
CC: In Credit Suisse Italy I used to be in direct contact with the customers, mainly Italians, whereas in Qualcomm my main customers are internal ones: my colleagues in Europe and the US. This represented a big cultural change for me and was quite a challenge.
As for the ICT, I have always found this sphere extremely attractive. It evolves rapidly and keeps up with the times, trying to adapt to the tastes of its customers and simplify their life.
WIL: Your professional activity is related to the ICT and financial sectors. As studies by the European Commission and the Financial Times show, both of these spheres are largely male-dominated. In your view, what could be done to attract more women to these sectors?
CC: First of all, it would not be very correct to say that ICT companies lack women since gender equality is more or less respected in such departments as marketing, HR, finances etc. However, it is true that men usually prevail in pure engineering activities.
Recently I had an opportunity to discuss this issue with the Executive Vice-President (EVP) of Qualcomm. We talked about shortage of women in leadership positions in general while mentioning that this problem existed at Qualcomm as well. The EVP assured me that it was a topic of an open discussion within the company. He also underlined that this phenomenon was due more to cultural traditions than to the reluctance of ICT-companies to attract women: according to him, even when he was studying at the university, one could already notice the smaller amount of female students in class.
At the same time, I believe that we are living at the time of cultural and generational evolution. Things are changing slowly but surely. On the one hand, management within organisations is starting to have a more modern outlook, and on the other hand Government influences companies to ensure equal opportunities. Personally, I can think of two solutions that would work for any sector willing to attract more female workers. First of all, firms in the ICT sphere should pay more attention to the development of the child care as this is a very important factor for some woman when choosing her job.
Secondly, I am assured that we need more examples of women in leadership to show the way and open the path for those coming up after them.
WIL: Claudia, at the last WIL Bi-Annual you did a great job moderating a shot tete-a-tete session. What are your impressions from this experience, what did you learn? Is there something you would do differently next time?
CC: The preparation for this event was quite stressful, partly due to the emotions that such an experience involves, and partly because English is not my mother tongue. The idea itself of holding a microphone on stage was scary for me.
I prepared a bunch of introductory phrases which I was planning to use to attract the audience’s attention. However, what helped me the most was few minutes of meditation before the session. I realized that being relaxed is more important than having a list of ready-made phrases that often sound empty and trivial anyway. If you know the topic well enough and have thought of several things you could say in case you lack inspiration, the improvisation will pass smoothly.
Next time I will have a greater belief in my capacities and I am going to work more on psychological aspects of such an exercise.
WIL: Where do you see yourself in 5 years, what would you like to achieve?
CC: Even though my job consists in planning and preparing forecasts, I am not as good at making plans for myself. Today’s Claudia differs dramatically from Claudia at University (who, by the way, was a linguist). Life offers plenty of marvellous opportunities which we cannot even imagine sometimes. I am trying to be a chameleon and adapt in order to “catch the train”.
Anyway, I hope that in 5 years I will still have a fascinating and challenging job and be a mother.
WIL: What and/or who can you call a source of your motivation?
CC: I bring passion to everything I do and it is the atmosphere at work and at home that inspires me the most. I learn mainly from people around me: I observe how they do things and deal with problems to follow their example. It helps me to improve my way of doing things and gain a better control of my emotions. It is a unique privilege for me to have joined WIL’s Talent Pool Program, as this experience is giving me the opportunity of meeting great women and taking inspiration from them. I was particularly impressed by Catalina Hoffman, her achievements, the experience she has gone through and how she has managed to move forward. Her enthusiasm and humility represent for me an important lesson.