Members of WIL, Commission representatives, Members of the European Parliament and friends gathered at the European Parliament on the morning of January 21st, 2015 for a WIL Breakfast, where we discussed the pertinent and timely topic of the new priorities of the European Institutions and the future of the European Union.
Focusing in on the economic outlook for the EU, and the perspectives and plans for European Institutions, Thaima Samman, WIL President, introduced the panel speakers, Pervenche Berès, Member Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament, Paulina Dejmek-Hack, Member of Cabinet of Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and Viviane de Beaufort, Tenure Professor at ESSEC business school and Founder of the Women programme ESSEC.
Taking the floor, MEP Pervenche Berès enlightened the room about the new dynamics of the European Parliament since the elections in the summer, mentioning that the elections had greatly changed the composition of the parliament and therefore altered the way interactions occur and how things get done. Touching upon the dynamics of the Commission and Parliament, Ms. Berès emphasised the need to work together at the European level to better the economic context in Europe. Since 2007 private and public investment in the Eurozone have drastically decreased. This is a burden for the next generation that needs to be addressed now. Bringing a question forward on the link between governance and current fiscal rules, Ms. Berès identified that the missing blocks for economic governance need to be identified in order to move forward, and to get out of the crisis we need more convergence, no divergence. The European investment plan announced by President Juncker, which aims to gather about 315bn€ from both public and private investors, could be a kickstart.
Paulina Dejmek-Hack, Member of Cabinet of Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, discussed the 10 main focus areas outlined by the Commission President for his term.
Ms. Dejmek-Hack concentrated on a few of these focus areas, giving more details on the Commission’s plans. In regards to the Energy Union, it was made clear that the focus is ensuring Europe is less dependent on outside sources for energy. Discussing the Internal Market, Ms. Dejmek-Hack mentioned that more will be done to make sure it works better including getting rid of remaining barriers and bringing production back to Europe. Lastly, looking specifically into the focus area of democratic change, the need to re-connect to citizens in the European Union is key to growing trust in institutions today.
Tying back to Ms. Berès, Ms. Dejmek-Hack similarly emphasised the need to work together more on at the EU level by “putting more European effort where we are clearly stronger together and need to work together”. Shifting her focus more directly to the economic future of the EU, Ms. Dejmek-Hack revealed that there has been a 15% drop in investment today in comparison to before the crisis. This links directly investments needed to boost jobs and growth. The Commission has proposed to work with a public guarantee in order to engender the private sector to invest more in the structures the EU needs, such as infrastructure, renewable energy, education etc.
The final panel speaker to take the floor, before opening the discussion to the room, was Ms. Viviane de Beaufort, Tenure Professor at ESSEC business school and Founder of the Women programmes ESSEC. Provoking the discussion amongst the panellists and the audience about the future of the EU, Ms. de Beaufort touched very briefly upon three areas, trade, education and research. Ms. de Beaufort mentioned how it is of the utmost importance to keep trade lines open and to focus on reciprocity, especially when entering into trade discussions with countries like the United States of America, where results and effects, good or bad, could be massive for Europe. She asked the European Union officials present in the room, and then Ms. Dejmek-Hack specifically, if the Commission feels it is in a place to properly negotiate a positive trade agreement with the USA.
On education, being a professor herself, Ms. de Beaufort mentioned the need to create more synergies between member countries’ systems, with equivalencies of degrees as well as increased mobility. Furthermore, she mentioned that education needs to focus more on the employability of future workers. Looking to the future of education in Europe, Professor de Beaufort asked whether a common budget for education could aid in levelling the issues with education systems across member states, and if this concept could ever be considered or adopted.
Turning to research and industry, Professor de Beaufort discussed how member states often keep their competencies to themselves, explaining that in reality this is a waste of resources as everyone does their own research on the same topics, when collaboration could yield greater results. This state of competition vs. collaboration between member states is not the most beneficial situation for the progress of research or industry. Ms. de Beaufort asked how the Commissions investment plan could address this issue, and went on to pose another thought provoking question, asking if we need to build a Europe that involves member states to contribute more or give up more of their competencies to the European Union?
With such thought provoking and stimulating questions, the floor opened up to a lively discussion between the panellist, and the guests in the room.
Addressing first the controversial suggestion of member states ‘giving up competencies’, Ms. Anne Houtman, Principle Advisor at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, underlined that it is important to avoid wording such as ‘abandon the competencies’ which may not be the right approach to working together
Building upon Anne Houtman’s point, Ms. Marina Niforos, President of Logos Global Advisors, explained that there is an interest from the private sector to invest in infrastructure in Europe, the money is there and people will invest, but it is about using the right language and giving them the right signs to execute their investments. Communication is key. Jasmin Battista, Member of Cabinet of Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, expressed the need for the Commission to clearly and accurately transmit what they are doing.. Moreover, Ms. Battista discussed building stronger competencies in digital issues, and the need to foster more risk taking within the EU when planning and regulating- while maintaining the rights of European citizens and effectively communicating on what we are doing.
Member of the European Parliament, Angelika Niebler, intervened in the discussion iterating that she agreed with Ms. Dejmek-Hack on the importance of focusing in on the large things, where the EU can really make a difference, and leaving some of the smaller things to the national level. Answering to MEP Berès, she made a small point on the new structure and voting system in the European Parliament, and from an EPP perspective, presented her vision on the new balance of powers towards the need for S&D and EPP to work together more. Lastly, she stressed that the events in Paris and Brussels, in early January, have and will continue to affect the European Parliament’s agenda, and add pressure for enhanced cooperation.
Moving towards the economic perspectives and the internal market, Caroline Weber, Director General of MiddleNext, shed some light on the realities of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in many member states. SMEs, especially small companies, tend to be family owned and often unwilling to expand beyond their domestic market due to heavy regulation and burden, an issue which needs to be addressed.
Several more guests participated in the discourse of the room, contributing their opinions and asking questions to the panelists and other audience members, sparking ever more interesting takes on the future of the European Union. Closing the session, WIL President Thaima Samman, expressed her gratitude for the overwhelming participation in the morning meeting and the quality of the discussions, mentioning that more WIL activities in Brussels will follow so that we can continue these high-level, informative exchanges.
WIL is happy to announce that the Global Forum, an international think-tank on the digital future, will take place this year in Geneva, Switzerland on November 17 and 18. Organised by Items International with the support of the State Chancellery of Geneva, the event will focus on “Our Path to a Digitally Connected World”.
The Global Forum is an excellent event which brings together approximately 300 decision makers, experts and high-level business people in the ICT sector each year. WIL Europe has been a collaborator of the Global Forum for the past 5 years, and is excitied be hosting a breakfast session at the next conference in Geneva.
Take a look at the Global Forum website for more information and a sneak peek at the evolving program. Also, keep an eye out for additional information and registration details for WIL members
WIL conducted a great morning session at the Global Forum in Geneva on November 18th, 2014. The session focused on the way in which women from advanced economies and emerging economies are influencing and impacting the ICT sector. Organised by Items International, the Global Forum is an international think-tank on the digital future.
The WIL session gathered an audience of 40 men and women, composed of ICT experts and enthusiast from around the world. Looking at the role of women in the transformation and adoption of ICT, the session moderated by Audrey Mandela, Co-Founder, Multimap and Chair & COO of Informilo, covered perspectives from emerging and advanced economies, with speakers participating from the US, UK, Egypt and the EU.
Delving into the emerging economies perspective, Ms. Effat El Shooky, Technical Director at Women Business Development Center- National Council for Women in Egypt, contextualised the position on women in Egypt within the recent changes undergone by the country, and the formation of the new constitution. This set the tone for Ms. El Shooky to explain how ICT is being used to reach women in in villages and is empowering them to transform their lives through greater access to e-learning platforms, and providing the ability to seize entrepreneurial opportunities and become social entrepreneurs through the creation of their own micro-businesses’. In turn, through access to ICT tools, a community of women leaders has begun to grow and women are becoming more active in their societies as business professionals and consumers.
Building off of the intervention of Ms. El Shooky, Ms. Veronique Inès Thouvenot, Co-founder & Scientific Director, Millennia 2025 Foundation, presented a program called Zero Mothers Die, which uses Mobile Technology to reduce infant-mother mortality rates, and improve pre and post natal health of women in emerging economies. This program was developed through the Millennia 2025 and is providing the opportunity for women to shape their own futures through the use of mobile services. Ms. Thouvenot explained that the program distributes a free cellular phone to women who have registered their pregnancy- through the mobile device they receive information and video’s specific to their pregnancy and are given a number of minutes per month to contact and communicate with health care professionals and others. This initiative not only reduces infant-mother mortality rates, but familiarises women with new technology, can provide knowledge capital for women and creates a safe more prosperous future for women and their communities.
Shifting the lens from emerging to developed economies, Ms. Laura Mandala, Managing Director, Mandala Research, mentioned that without a doubt we are entering a new age, an age of information technology and telecommunications. Ms. Mandala presented some telling data on the number of women entering and making it to the top of ICT companies, revealing that in reality, in the USA, less women earned computer sciences degrees in 2011 (18%) than in 1985 (37%), and only a small percentage are able to break the ‘glass ceiling’ and join the executive or senior management teams. Furthermore, Ms. Mandala mentioned that a disconnect between users and business teams composition is becoming more clear, for example, the company Pinterest which is valued at 3.8 billion USD, had a female user base of 70% in 2013, but has a 100% male board of directors. Similarly, Google, Facebook and Twitter all went public with male boards, although Ms. Mandala mentioned, we are seeing some diversification occur in these companies now. In essence, there is a great need for companies in the ICT sector re-align themselves to represent their consumers and the general population, with more gender parity among their executive and senior management, as Mandala research has found that mixed gender teams are often more innovative, creative, productive and resilient.
Rounding out the discussion WIL Women Talent Pool alumni Ms. Anne-Lise Thieblemont, Senior Director, Government Affairs, Qualcomm, bridged the discussion from the emerging and developed economies by sharing some initiatives Qualcomm has been spearheading for women in ICT in both areas. In Malaysia for example, Ms. Thieblemont shared that Qualcomm has set up a mentoring program for women which is linked greatly to enhancing entrepreneurial potential in women- raising their access to status in society. In the United States the company has likewise done a lot to combat the lowering number of women in ICT by enhancing girls and women’s interest in ICT through tech skill and mentoring camps. Ms. Theiblemont also shared that most growth has been in the mobile market, with smart phones, and that by 2018 it is expected that most technology owned by users will be smartphones. Lastly, Ms. Thieblemont mentioned the benefit of programs like the WIL women talent pool, as opportunities for younger women to grow into leaders, identify opportunities and connect and network with peers, as well as with inspiring high-level women.
For more photo's of the WIL Panel at the Global Forum 2014, please click here
For the official Global Forum 2014 Programme, Presentations and Speaker profiles, please click here
On the 12th of September, WIL held its Bi-Annual meeting in Madrid, hosted in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) at their venue in the historic centre of the city. The afternoon was devoted to the thought-provoking topic of resilience in Europe which was discussed from varying angles and perspectives. WIL was welcomed by Alejandro Alvarez von Gustedt, European Office Representative, IDB, and Pedro Gonzalez Torroba, Trade and Economic Development Director General, Madrid Emprende (Madrid City). The event comprised of 3 sessions: two classic roundtables, analysing resilience from sectoral and regional points of view respectively, and one tete-a-tete interview session devoted to the resilience of women.
The first panel, presenting the sectoral angle on the issue of resilience, was moderated by WIL Board Member Dorothee Belz, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft. It gathered prominent speakers working in different domains, who provided the audience with a comprehensive picture of the crisis’ consequences and the prospective for growth in different business spheres. A representative of the ICT sector, Alexandre Menais, Executive Vice President, Group General Counsel, Atos, told the audience about the impact that digitalization has had on the modern economy and how investment in R&D can help to overcome the crisis and avert the next one. Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, Senior Executive Vice President of Innovation, Marketing and Technologies, Orange talked about the constant growth of the mobile industry all over the world, underlining that this sphere is currently facing the challenge of its losing personal relationship with its customers due to an upsurge of online trade. Roger Hollingsworth, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Government Relations, Managed Funds Association, who is directly related to the financial market, presented his past experience in Washington on Capitol Hill, which taught him two main things: the main asset of economy is human capital, but also that the world needs a more transparent financial system. Finally, Dr. Venetia Koussia, President and Managing Director, Manpower Greece, working in HR, introduced the notion of “talentism” – a phenomenon of ‘the now’, which is important because of talent shortage. She stressed that people with relevant skills and the potential to cope with uncertainty have the opportunity not to be chosen, but to choose their employers themselves.
Following a lively networking break, the tete-a-test interview session began, focusing on the topic of female resilience. The moderator of the session, WIL Emerging Leader Claudia Collachi, Senior Financial Analyst, Qualcomm Europe Inc., interviewed two prominent WIL Members, Pinuccia Contino, Head of Unit, Communication and Relations with Stakeholders, DG for Translation, European Commission, and Mary Honeyball, Member of the European Parliament, who are both blogging on women issues, accomplished in their career and resilient women themselves. Pinuccia Contino explained that in her blog she tells stories about brave women from different eras and continents who managed to change the world for the better, and provided the audience with the most inspiring examples. MEP Mary Honeyball said that her blog represented a political statement on her gender-related activity at the European Parliament and unfortunately, according to her, women are often either unheard in the media, or suffer from abuse because of their media activity- which launched an active discussion with the audience on women in the media. Both interviewees commented that the situation with female rights has greatly improved in past years, however, there are still so many more things to be done and “in 2030 we will still be talking about the resilience of women”.
The last roundtable of the day was moderated by WIL Member Myriam Maestroni, CEO, Economie d’Energie SAS, and presented resilience from regional point of view. Dr. Adrian Healy, Research Associate, Cardiff University, started by giving a definition of resilience and explaining that good governance in relation to resilience meant the capacity of the government to stabilize the economic situation of a country and work on reducing vulnerabilities of the regions over time. WIL Members, Eugenia Bieto, Director General, ESADE Business School, then discussed the new way that leading business schools, like ESADE, are preparing students to be leaders and instilling within them qualities that define what leaders in today’s world need to possess. These characteristics include: a global mindset, an entrepreneurial spirit, the capacity to manage and a strong sense of values. Patricia Enriquez, Head of Human Solutions Business Unit in Lukkap, went on to discuss emerging labour market trends, such as rising importance of the outplacement and high demand for candidates with necessary competences, but with cross-sector experience who would bring in an innovative approach. Last but not least, Ana-Maria Llopis, Founder and CEO of Ideas4all, provided insights into a pop-up culture that is being shaped in Spain, and other countries and regions, due to the emergence of temporary “project-based” jobs.
The afternoon sessions were re-captured by two promising talents from the Women Talent pool session. Emerging Leaders - Joanna Kaminska, Advisor, Committee on Foreign Affairs, European Parliament, and Magali Théveniault Prevet, CxO Management Consulting, Capgemini, both provided highlights of the panel sessions as well as their personal take-aways.
After a day of examining European Resilience from its many facets, its personal, professional and economic layers, and hearing from many exceptionally distinguished speakers, Thaima Samman, WIL President, provided some closing remarks, and invited all the attendees to participate in a networking cocktail which culminated the exciting day.
On the 4th of June 2014, several WIL members, emerging leaders and friends, gathered for the Annual Ordinary General Assembly at the Headquarters of Orange in Paris. This meeting allowed WIL members to get informed about WIL’s activities and progress, as well as the future prospects of the development of the Association. The Assembly was followed by a panel on Corporate Governance in Europe, which stimulated and extremely interesting discussion on the new audit reform and company package as well as on the impact, purpose and future of corporate governance for SMEs and large organisations in Europe. The evening was closed by a intimate networking cocktail for those attending.
To open the General Assembly, WIL President Thaima Samman sincerely thanked the sponsors Microsoft, Qualcomm, Talentia Software, Osborne Clarke, INSEAD, and especially Orange for hosting the meeting and supporting WIL over the years. She then presented the order of the day, starting with the summary of the WIL Board of Directors Report on the moral and financial situation, presented by Béatrice Delmas-Linel, Managing Partner, Osborne Clarke and WIL Founding & Board Member.
Béatrice Delmas-Linel spoke about the consistent growth in WIL membership (last year WIL recruited 24 new individual members) and partnership, in 2013 WIL worked with Pink Shoe Club, Global WIN and Women Equity and also touched upon the main events that WIL organized in 2013 (6 for WIL members and 3 for Women Talent Pool sessions plus particiaption in several external events).
In addition to growing, the WIL has also became more diverse with the new members joining from across Europe and the range of the event topics and locations in 2013 was Broadening. For example, the WIL Bi-Annuals in 2013 were held in London and Rome, and devoted to a company’s true value and the issue of the competitiveness . Moreover WIL held breakfast meetings, a dinner debate, a seminar with the French Treasury. All of the events were characterized by a high quality of speakers, an important network of partners and active participation of Members and Friends.
Ms. Delmas-Linel then gave the floor to WIL Treasurer Bertrand Salord, Chief of Staff LCA Europe, who convayed the details of the annual accounts of WIL to the members. He also established the outcomes of the online, in-person and proxy votes, stating that all resolutions for the General Assembly were approved. As for the resolution 3, all the 5 elected individual members were re-elected namely; Marina Niforos, Deb Leary, Sonia Trocmé-Le Page, Katherine Corich and Isabella de Michelis di Slonghello, representing Qualcomm and WIL is happy to welcome 3 new members to WIL's Board: Paulina Dejmek-Hack, Emanuella Palazzani and Maria Isabel Pernas Martinez, representing Atos. Moreover, Mr. Salord highlighted the new partnerships and sponorships realised in 2014, which includes new Silver Members, Atos and Qualcomm and Women Talent Pool sponsors Capgemini. WIL is proud to have these new corpoate sponsors and members supporting the network and our intiatives!
Thaima Samman then spoke about the future prospects of WIL Europe and the vision that the team and the Board has for the Association. WIL intends to continue building a relevant platform across Europe for women in leadership. The network aims to foster greater individual promotion of its members and expand membership and presence in new European countries in addition to consolidating the WIL Paris, Brussels and Italy chapters by supporting them on their local events.
Finally, Thaima Samman reminded attendees of the various future WIL events, such as the WIL Bi-Annual on European resilience in Madrid on the 12th of September, WIL session for the Global Forum in ICT on the 17th/18th of November as well as the Bi-Annual in Greece in spring 2015.
On the 4th of June, within the context of the 2014 General Assembly, WIL held a timely roundtable on the Corporate Governance in Europe. It stimulated an extremely interesting discussion on the new audit reform and company package as well as on the impact, purpose and future of corporate governance for SMEs and large organisations in Europe. The panel was moderated by WIL Board Member Marina Niforos, Former Director General, AmCham, and gathered many expert spearkers on the topic.
Paulina Dejmek-Hack, Deputy Head of Cabinet of Michel Barnier, Commissioner for Internal Market and Services and WIL Board Member, presented a helicopter view of the topic of regulation from the European Commission’s position. She presented the new European audit reform and company package on regulation, putting an accent on the fact that it aims at more harmonisation and encouragement for states and does not have the ambition to become a rigid legislation. She underlined the importance of SME’s (amounting to about 20 million) for the growth of the European economy and the importance to cut red tape in order to ameliorate conditions for such companies to go cross-border (only 2% of them do so now – often because of the complexity of the process as well as lack of information).
Following the high-level overview of the EU Corporate Governance perspective, Caroline Weber, Director General of Middlenext drilled more specifically into corpoate governance for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Highlightying that the majority of the SMEs are controlled by the owner (often family-owned) which considerably diminishes the impact of the regulation on the corporate governance. With this consideration in mind, from her experience, SMEs would prefer legislators to focus more on stimulating growth than increasing regulation. According to Caroline Weber, regulation has recently become more of a compliance task, and act o ‘ticking boxes’ , which is not and should not be the intention of the corporate governance. Ms. Weber also referred to the opinion of the OECD working group on the subject, which she is part of and which came to the very same conclusion.
Drawing the discussion to a country level, Ms. weber mentioned that this issue is especially acute in France, where companies have already acquired a habit of writing the reports quite different from their real activity. When asked what could be done to mitigate these issues, Caroline Weber formulated several key conditions for altering the situation such as re-instilling trust back to the system, adopting a more proportionate approach and dividing companies in several groups according to their size vs. a dichotomy.
Building off these comments, Leda Condoyanni, Managing Director of the Hellenic Corporate Governance Council spoke about the new code on corporate governance, recently adopted in Greece. She stressed that it represents best practices from different European and OECD countries while also reflecting Greek particularities. According to her, the provisions of the code are something companies should want to do: the code is meant to bring higher value to companies and help them protect minority stakeholders by showing them a better way to govern themselves. Leda Condoyanni also mentioned the European Corporate Governance Council that Greece, as the presiding country of the EU, organized in April. The Council discussed the new company package, which was in general given positive feedback (even though its future seems for now unclear in light of the upcoming designation of the new Commission), as well as the topic of transparency as contrasted with transferring more power to the executive.
The debate was concluded with the perspective of a large company, given by Cedric Testut General Counsel, Financial law and Corporate legal department at Orange. As a practitioner working in the domain, he told the audience about the pressure that Orange faces from its investors being a big listed company, as well as a partically state owned company. Mr. Testus metnioned that regulative issues are extremely complex in France (whom for example, recently passed a law regulating big companies managers’ salaries). Moreover he underlined the fact that Orange was striving to comply with law and governance codes in all the countries where it was established (such as, Poland and Belgium), and that taking into consideration the difference in foreign practices and governace is an important and difficult task.
The discussion aroused considerable interest of the audience who posed several questions, namely about the importance of the common standards of compliance for investors and the role of proxy advisors. After comments and closing remarques, all the attendees were invited to participate in a networking cocktail which culminated the evening.
WIL was honoured to take part in the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) Leadership Summit and APPCUP Competition Finals in Brussels on March 5th and 6th, 2014. With over 200 people from the Microsoft ecosystem present including start-ups and SMEs as well as EU officials, both events were a colossal success.
The WIL session, moderated by WIL Board Member Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Director Health EMEA, Microsoft, sparked a discussion on new technology trends, ideas and actions to galvanise the partners’ ecosystem while also starting a dialogue on the topic of diversity in the digital sector.
Identifying the new technology mega trends developing, such as Cloud, Social, Mobile and Big Data, Jan Muhlfeit, Chairman of Microsoft Europe, stressed the importance of being at the forefront of innovation and the need to take advantage of these trends by leveraging them in businesses. With the development of new trends also comes new job creation and , Mr. Muehlfeit addressed the increasing need to find qualified and skilled workers as many technology jobs remain vacant in Europe. To help remedy this, he suggested a combination of up-skilling people in terms of lifelong learning and positive, tech-focused education reform. Moreover, Mr. Muehlfeit mentioned that education institutes, governments, businesses and families should be encouraging more women and girls to enter into ICT positions, in an effort to foster a more inclusive and successful sector.
Turning the floor to successful entrepreneur Eliane Fiolet, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Ubergizmo, an online platform for device and technology product reviews, Ms. Bonfiglioli posed a double pronged question in regards to female specific technology and marketing strategies. Based on her expertise in the sector, Ms. Fiolet presented startling figures revealing how active women are as consumers of technology. The large numbers of women utilising technology for gaming, work, research etc. exemplifies the fact that technology is inherently gender neutral, explained Ms. Fiolet. Women, as with men, look for the best product at the best price. However, despite the fact that women are a significant portion of technology consumers, they are rarely the target market audience, something that should most definitely change.
Deb Leary, CEO of Forensic pathways, another emblematic example of entrepreneurial success in the technology sector, brought the discussion to a more humanistic point, mentioning that the usefulness of technology is equally important to think about when developing a business product or service, as the innovation itself. Referring back to her experience running Forensic Pathways, a company which develops mapping software and data analysis to manage complex criminal cases, she stressed that despite how well designed technology may be, if people do not find the technology useful it cannot be successful. Ms. Leary built upon this point by advising the audience to take their end-user along with them in the development process whenever possible, especially when catering to a specific market or developing specific market solutions.
The concept of creating tech for the end-user and including them in the development process was also addressed by Céline Brémaud, who recently became the Vice President Small Mid-Market Solutions & Partners for Microsoft EMEA. Speaking from the perspective of a large technology company, Ms. Brémaud discussed the way in which technology development is changing and becoming increasingly end user driven. This shift has added layers to tech creation that didn’t necessarily exist before, she explained. The production of new technology now includes more actors than just the developers, it includes business experts from financial, marketing and communications backgrounds to all contribute to the development process and roll-out of a new product or service. For Ms. Brémaud, as the development of technology becomes more layered, the importance of diversity becomes more important, in all senses. Diversity, including that of gender, innately brings more perspectives to the table which more often than not leads to strengthened and more well-rounded end-products.
Dr. Paul Rübig, MEP, Member Committees on Industry, Research and Energy and on Budgetary Control & Honorary President of SME Europe; also contributed to the diversity discourse reiterating the need to engage more women in the ICT field and gave a short overview of some of the initiatives put in place by the EU to engage girls and women to get involved in technology and entrepreneurship.
With so many distinguished speakers on the panel the discussion flowed with ease. Each speaker built off of the other, igniting pertinent questions from the audience. Overall, the WIL Session was a success in shedding light on ICT trends and diversity in the digital sector, the messages truly resonated with the IAMCP who hope to attract more female experts and leaders into the ecosystem.
FORUM DE LA MIXITE
On the 13th of December, 2013 the second edition of the “Forum de la Mixité” opens its doors in Paris. The event is organised by CONNCECTIN WoMEN in collaboration with AFMD, Arborus, IFA, Observatoire de la Parentalité, ORSE, Laboratoire de l’Egalité, CNIDFF, CapitalCom and CGPME. The “Forum de la mixité” is an annual event that gathers major actors who promote workplace diversity and are dedicated to the professional success of women and gender issues.
It hosts a salon of 80 exhibitionists and experts, and welcomes 1500 participants for a day of inspiring exchanges and motivational encounters. The exhibition salon offers a great opportunity to network with experts from the political, entrepreneurial and academic sectors. In addition to the exhibition, the forum arranges high level workshops addressing various topics relevant to the current issues, trends and activities occurring in the entrepreneurial sphere.
This year, special attention will be given to the digital technologies sector and a kiosk will be organised in partnership with Hill+Knowlton and NetApp that offers information on the industry, in particular on the approach to the inclusion of women.
After last years' successful cooperation, WIL is once again partnering with the “Forum de la Mixité” and thanks to the generous cooperation of CONNECTING WoMEN Agency, WIL has 20 free entries to the Exhibition Salon on a first come, first serve basis.
To register for free salon entry, please respond via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Espace des Blancs Manteaux
48 rue vieille du temple
If you are interested in attending the workshops, please register on the forum’s website and purchase a workshop package.
For more in-depth information about the workshops, click here.
*Please note this is a French language event*
On the 6th of December 2013, WIL hosted its second bi-annual meeting at the famous Portcullis House at the Palace of Westminster in London. In a transatlantic collaboration with friends from the Pink Shoe Club and GlobalWIN, this WIL bi-annual meeting welcomed more than 100 high-level participants to an exciting day full of discussion and connection. Centring on the topic of “Defining a company’s true value”, the agenda included several activities addressing traditional and new understandings of value in companies as well as the topic of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Thaima Samman, WIL President and Helene Martin Gee, Founder of the Pink Shoe Club, introduced the event by warmly welcoming all the international attendees to London and expressing their delight in coordinating an event together with GlobalWIN. Ms. Samman emphasised the importance of extending the network for women and being inclusive, as gender equality is a journey that affects women globally. Helen Milby of GlobalWIN took a moment to share that her US delegation was thrilled to be part of this great collaboration and encouraged the women to take advantage of the opportunity and network with the international partners present.
An opening keynote was given by our hosting member of the British parliament Mary Macleod, MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media & Sport and Minister for Women & Equalities, Member of Parliament for Chiswick, Brentford, Isleworth, Osterley & Hounslow, during which she concurred with much of the opening remarks, further stressing the importance of collaborating to improve women’s condition in general and specifically in regards to promoting women’s entry into high-level business and political positions. She highlighted that encouragement for women through networks and other experience sharing platforms is key to effectively fostering more representation in senior positions. Ms. Macleod also reminded us of the global issues disfavouring women and the need to generate a worldwide change in mentality.
Subsequently, the second keynote speaker Hon. Julie Brill, US Federal Trade Commissioner, introduced the theme of the day: how to assess a company’s value. She dove right into the complexity of the topic, stating that value starts with balance sheets but ends with intangibles. Sharing her expertise, she listed the three pillars that she finds comprises a company’s value: the financial value, rigour and the staff. The employees and the way they are treated is directly linked to a company’s reputation, which is one of the most important of all intangible values. Consequently, market perception is not the end of the story, as finding the right staff to maintain the quality of the company’s output and good internal governance are key to accomplishing sustainable value.
How to Determine a Company’s true value?
Following these thought provoking opening speeches, the morning roundtable “How to determine a company’s true value?” was kicked off by moderator Jennifer Schenker, Founder and Editor-in-chief, Informilo, who set the stage for some insights from the panelists. Laurence Capron, INSEAD Strategy Professor and co-author of “Build, Borrow or Buy” presented the academic perspective on the financial side of a company’s value, sharing knowledge from her book on balancing growth strategies and the risks of mergers and acquisition (M&A). Her key message was to pursue a combined strategy of organic growth and acquisitions, advising that business decision makers choose modes of growth, collaboration and innovation that allow variation in their business model.
Pierre-Yves Cros, Chief Development Officer, Capgemini Group; provided a glimpse into Capgemini’s strategy in value determination. He made it clear that beyond financial performance large global companies, especially those dealing in M&As, value diversity of profiles in their employees. Merging with the right people, at the right time and with the right tasks is what Mr. Cros identified as the recipe of Capgemini’s success.
Leading the discussion from the political perspective, WIL board member Dr. Antonyia Parvanova, Member of the European Parliament, shed some light on the European Parliament’s endeavours to restore value in European financial sector. Sharing recent research from McKenzie and Goldman Sachs, Ms. Parvanova stated that GDP would rise immensely in Europe if barriers for women in labour market were lifted, she declared that an increase in female entrepreneurship would be a solution to help lift Europe from the crisis.
Shifting the focus more towards intangibles, Paulina Dejmek-Hack, Cabinet Commissioner Internal Market and Services, European Commission, spoke of the growing interest in more socially aware investment funds and confirmed that the Commission is trying to foster legislation aimed at evaluating a company’s impact based on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Acknowledging that to date the focus is still primarily residing on financial matters, legislation could help to add a new component to the way we view and value companies in Europe.
Delving further into the intangible elements of value, Jan Noterdaeme, Co-founder and Senior Advisor-External Relations, CSR Europe discussed incorporating ethical values into business models. Giving fascinating insight into his activities at CSR Europe, Mr. Noterdaeme explained the importance and growing trend of integrating humanitarian and environmental strategies into enterprises. He stated that the best approach to promote CSR among companies is to measure intangibles, so they can be equally viewed as financial values.
Triggering an energetic discussion among the panellists and the audience, many engaged in the discussion about the viability of incorporating CSR into businesses. Some mentioned that linking CSR activities to financial outcomes was the most effective way to address the issue, while others mentioned the great impact social media can have on helping to highlight and then measure a company’s CSR activities. Many audience interventions also deemed the implementation of legislations as a valid trigger for embedding CSR and gender equality into companies.
Breaking for a high-level lunch at the distinguished House of Lords Chumley Room, with a view over the Thames, guests had the privilege of being hosted by Baroness Ann Jenkin. As customary, Baroness Jenkin’s welcomed the GlobalWIN, Pink Shoe Club and WIL Europe delegation, giving short remarks on the importance of networking opportunities for women and touching upon the work she has done to encourage women in politics.
Women Talent Pool Awards Ceremony
Before entering into the afternoon segments, WIL board member and WTP Lead Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Health Director of EMEA at Microsoft, seized the opportunity to recognise the emerging leaders of the first Women Talent Pool program. Thanks to the WTP, WIL is able to recognise young talents, bring them together with WIL role models as well as peer talents and equip them with a holistic approach to leadership. As the program continues next year with new talents, WIL and Ms. Bonfiglioli warmly welcomed the graduating emerging leaders to partake as alumni, and hoped to see many of them join the WIL network in the years to come.
Elena Bonfiglioli then welcomed to the front, Meredith Broadbent, US International Trade Commissioner, who bridged the themes of company valuation, competitiveness, trade and SMEs in a short intervention and Q&A with WIL board member Béatrice Delmas-Linel, Managing Partner at Osborne Clarke France. Ms. Broadbent testified on the trade and investment partnership of the EU and US and the research her commission has done in quantifying the developments in the digital economy. Giving a broad overview over recent transformations in the global economy, and how the US-EU free-trade will give greater opportunities, especially for SME’s and entrepreneurs. After some further questions from Ms. Delmas Linel, on the types of opportunities for SMEs and the future of the digital sectors, the floor was opened to audience intervention where WIL board member Marie-Thérèse Huppertz, inquired about the measures taken concerning the NSA surveillance scandal. Ms. Broadbent ultimately concluded that the effects of the NSA scandal on the trade deal will be negligible, especially when considering the vast benefits to both economies and the companies, large and small, operating within them.
SMEs in Europe
Focusing more closely on SMEs in Europe and what can be done to encourage their growth within the EU and international markets, WIL board member Katherine Corich, CEO of Sysdoc opened the late afternoon roundtable as moderator, introducing a panel of four SME and entrepreneurial experts.
Paola Cuneo, Director Global Graduate Entrepreneurs Programme, UK Trade and Investment, took the floor first and informed the audience about the Graduate Entrepreneurs’ programs mission to help graduates to raise successful businesses. According to her there are three pillars of SME success; speed, innovation and the appropriate market. Placing a special emphasis on globalisation Ms. Cuneo explained how it is a driving force for business success due to new market opportunities. However, with this comes its challenges, a company must research new trends to stay innovative and similarly must know the preference of its customer base in each market.
Greg Revenu, Managing Director, Bryan Garnier of Principal Investments gave a financial perspective on SMEs and start-ups explaining the difficulties of finding capital investment, and the cyclical aspect of bank investments in ‘secure’ sectors like health. Addressing Ms. Cuneo, Mr. Revenu also touched on his own firm’s graduate program for backing entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs and in increasing access to capital. Bryan Garnier’s motivation to advance female led businesses stems from the great disparity between male and female-led SMEs in France and internationally, as well as from the potential value added to the economy from increased female entrepreneurship.
This was followed by a motivational address by Per Werngren, CEO of Idenet & President of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP), EMEA. He stated that the driving force of his SME’s success stems from the freedom and fun of entrepreneurism. Drawing from his pool of experience, he broke down the prosperity of SMEs to three main components: to focus on one thing, to find the right leaders to manage your business, and to be demanding. Additionally, he explained that as he grew his company he always looked for diversity in his employees, in all senses of the word. This, Mr. Wrengren explained, is helpful when you expand to different countries, as your company will be more adaptable to culture and markets.
WIL board member Viviane Chaine-Ribeiro, CEO of Talentia Software, shared the story of her company’s success and offered two main points of advice to entrepreneurs, the first to establish a strong position within an industry or market and the second to build a strong management team inside the company. Having recently expanded Talentia to Italy, Portugal and Greece, Ms. Chaine-Ribeiro emphasised the need to always look for market opportunities, even where they may not be a given.
The roundtable was followed by an animated discussion dominated by the subject of finding the right people for a company’s management and the controversial reasons for the still persisting low female representation in SMEs globally. Ms. Corich then challenged the audience to brainstorm how to find a way to increase female-led SMEs in the economy. Some tables responded that more needs to be done to encourage entrepreneurship at a young age and educate children on the possibilities of becoming entrepreneurs. Others brought up loosening immigration policies to help SME’s attract the right people to help grow their companies, while others suggested more networks and organisations targeted towards helping SME’s and start-ups.
To close, Jill Pay on behalf of the Earl of Erroll and the Pink Shoe Club delivered remarks that praised the great collaboration and the excellent program for both the WTP session and the WIL Bi-Annual. Thaima Samman likewise added complimentary words about the fruitful teamwork, and drew attention to the kick-off event of the second Women Talent Pool on 4th of March, the next bi-annual in Madrid and the Global Summit of Women taking place June 2014 in Paris, for which WIL is a partner.
Overall the day was quite a success, with great speakers delivering keynotes, participating in round-tables and active audience engagement throughout the day. Moreover, the international delegation seized the opportunities to network and widen their connections in Europe and across the pond. The event brought forward the multi-faceted ways in which one can define a company’s value, broadening perspectives on what makes a company valuable both internally and externally. Furthermore, it discussed the components needed to grow an SME or start-up internationally, a topical subject in light of the economic crisis and with the rush of new EU international trade agreements.
WIL was honoured to welcome Ms. Nadia Calviño, Deputy Director General for Financial Services Policy at DG Internal Market and Services (European Commission) on November 28th for a great session on EU Integration, Economics and Financial reforms – with a special focus on the banking union. We were also happy to have with us Cristiana Falcone Sorrell, Principal Consultant, Office of Outreach and Partnership Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), and many distinguished guests and WIL members who actively participated in questions and intervention period such as MEP Dr. Antonyia Parvanova and MEP Sari Essayah.
Thaima Samman, WIL President, kicked off the session by introducing the featured speakers, Ms. Calviño and Ms. Falcone Sorrell, and setting the stage for Ms. Calviño to delve into the intricate details of EU integration and reforms in the financial sector. Ms. Calviño began with discussing what she called the “re-regulation” of financial markets, in the effort to bring together a more integrated financial and banking sector while ensuring a transparent and stable system to avoid another crisis.
Explaining where we came from and what the Commission is currently doing, Ms. Calviño presented the ambitious regulation program launched in the EU a few years ago, with two important phases. The first one focused on implementing the G20 commitments, in particular the banking and derivatives rules, while the second one addressed the need to have a more integrated and regulated financial system in the EU, notably with the creation of the three European Supervisory Authorities (ESMA, EBA and EIOPA) and the adoption of several measures, through directives but also more and more through regulations.
Moving on to the Banking Union issue, she discussed the need for the creation of a new framework for banks supervision and resolution in the Euro-zone. The first part that was agreed on, called the Single Supervision Mechanism, will entrust the European Central Bank with the supervision of the 6000 banks in the Euro-zone. The second stage of the Banking Union is still in negotiations, and aims at providing a common framework for the resolution of failed banks. The idea behind it, as Ms. Calviño explained, is the Commission’s strong belief that the money needed in the short term should not come from private citizens but from a single resolution fund that would be funded by the banks. This reform is progressing fast and is hoped to be completed before the end of the current Parliament’s term, which she recognised as an ambitious but achievable deadline.
Ms. Falcone Sorrell then conveyed some interesting insights into the rest of the world’s perceptions of the EU integration and current financial reforms. While Europe is often seen by outsiders as old, traditionalist and in decline, Ms. Falcone Sorrell explained that more recently there have been signs of pick-up, even if there is a great need for ‘rebranding’ Europe as well as a need to re-launch entrepreneurship and to facilitate access to capital. She recalled that Europe remains the largest combined economy in the world, and that many European countries are ranked in the top ten list by the World Economic forum, hence, we are far from a bleak future. Ms. Falcone Sorrell emphasised that bringing together 28 countries is no easy task, and that an integrated banking market is necessary to support the economy and stabilize the financial system since banking risks does not stop at boarders. In this regards, she added, fragmentation should be fought against, and the Banking Union initiative clearly is an encouraging step in this direction.
Following this exchange, Ms. Samman opened the floor to the distinguished audience for a lively discussion and question period. MEP Sari Essayah and MEP Antonyia Parvanova shared their perspectives on the issues, mentioning that it is important to continue to develop the economy in order to remain competitive, iterating however, that it is equally important to address the current banking problems as to create strong future plans in regards to financial reforms. In addition, the need for more transparent and open discussions on the Banking Union came up, especially in regards to the short deadline set for approval of the measures. As always, there was not enough time to discuss every facet of the topic, however the lively and friendly debate was encouraging and indicative of the relevance of this topic and passion surrounding EU integration and the current financial reforms.
© European Network for Women in Leadership 2018