President Thaima Samman and Sophia Kounenaki-Efraimoglou, Vice President of the Foundation of the Hellenic World & Head of Cultural Centre “HELLENIC COSMOS”, who in her opening remarks reflected on the importance of inclusive growth for Europe, and for Greece in particular, at this time.
Setting the tone for the following roundtables, Marina Niforos, President of Logos Global Advisors & WIL Board Member and Rania Ekaterinari, Partner at Ernst & Young (EY), WIL Member and Country Ambassador, exchanged on the topic “Putting Inclusive at the heart of Growth: European and Greek perspectives”. Ms. Niforos and Ms. Ekaterinari explained that the key word to escape the crisis is “TRUST”, and that, on the one hand Greece needs to regain TRUST in the European institutions, and on the other hand they need to be able to TRUST their own banks, and the private sector in general, to gain access to revenue and work towards ending the crisis. From the European perspective, it was discussed that we need to push harder to foster a feeling of belonging among all European Citizens and member states so that we can pursue growth in an inclusive manner, and not as an isolated objective.
The first panel, moderated by Marina Niforos, gathered speakers of various nationalities and sectors to exchange on the topic of ‘Building sustainable growth & competitiveness: Entrepreneurship as a key lever’. The session provided a macro understanding of the current European situation and what it will take to foster sustainable growth and competitiveness in Europe. Ann Pettifor, Director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics at PRIME explored the genesis of the crisis and explained how the infrastructure of the Eurozone made it possible for Greeks to lend and borrow money in a risky way. She emphasized that there needs to be more risk sharing within the EU and that for SMEs, the drivers of our economy, to prosper a better regulatory environment needs to emerge. Ms. Pettifor then gave the floor to Paulina Dejmek-Hack, Economic Adviser and Member of Cabinet of Jean-Claude Juncker who discussed the Commission’s priorities to reboot competiveness and economic growth. Ms. Dejmek-Hack outlined how the new EU investment plan would lead to job creation and subsequently economic growth, supporting investment from both public authorities and private investors. She added that the EU learned its lesson from the financial crisis and will have a much clearer regulatory framework that will only target viable economic projects.
Shifting the discussion towards a high-growth and expanding middle sized European Company, Viviane Chaine-Ribeiro, CEO of Talentia Software, explained that entrepreneurship is a human adventure and that motivation is the key to unlocking recovery. Having recently acquired a company in Greece, Ms. Chaine-Riberio explained that she stuck with her Greek acquisition because of the quality of the people, their talent and dedication. These things, along with a leader who can motivate and maintain an entrepreneurial mindset, are what lead to successful sustainable growth and competitiveness in a company, especially SMEs. Rounding out the discussion, Hiro Anathassiou, Chairman of ELAIS -Unilever Hellas S.A explained that a sustainable future can be pursued when business and society’s interests converge. She shared the success story of Gastouni Greek tomato farm in the Peloponnese and showed how sustainability goes hand in hand with competiveness and inclusive growth.
Following a lively networking break, the second session, which tackled the topic of “Sustainable Job Creation & Social Innovation at the heart of Inclusive Growth” began with moderator Dorothee Belz, WIL Board Member, setting the stage for a great discourse. Benedicte David, AMEA Division Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Vice President Customer Experience at Orange, shared about the ways large corporations such as Orange can stimulate job creation, both directly and indirectly. Using the example of Orange’s development efforts in Africa, she explained how digitalization is leading to both local job creation and local development with Orange directly creating jobs by employing 22 000 people locally, and indirectly by using 700 000 retailers who themselves create jobs. Haris Makryniotis, Managing Director & Partner, Endeavor Greece went on to provide insights on SMEs and jobs in Greece, explaining that SMEs don’t have the potential to grow because they only have one or two employees, therefore, economic growth becomes a game of selectivity, and this does not allow banks to correctly assess the future performances of SMEs. Mr. Makryniotis also insisted on the fact that the EU should contribute to the identification and promotion of the next generation of talented entrepreneurs by financing educational programs for youth in order to match the companies need, for him stopping the ‘brain drain’ is not the question, the question is how do we embed skills in the system that give youth and future entrepreneurs a chance.
Kristin Schreiber, Director of the COSME Programme and SME Policy at DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs picked up on where Mr. Makryniotis finished and discussed the “ERASMUS for young Entrepreneurs Program” as an example of a great tool bridging skills and knowledge exchanges. She also explained how most jobs in Europe are coming from SMEs (95%), however, when it comes to SMEs’ access to financing there are still issues that need to be resolved in order to help them succeed and ultimately to boost innovation and job creation. Re-focusing the discussion from traditional models of job creation and innovation to new ones, the shared economy, Sofia Gkiousou, Public Policy Director at Airbnb explained how the company aims to provide people with the opportunity to complement their incomes, make cultural exchanges and become their own entrepreneur. She continued that for Airbnb to succeed in the market, no one has to lose, as it is not replacing tradition models of hospitality but simply offering greater options and diversity to the sector, which is positive for innovation, jobs growth and competitiveness.
After the networking lunch break, the Women Talent Pool Session kicked off and included a wrap-up session by emerging leaders, an inspirational presentation by Avinash Chandarana, Group Learning and Development Director, MCI Group during which the participants learned about “New Leadership Skills in a Competitive Environment” and an engaging Leadership panel “Getting on track to inclusive leadership” with high-level sponsor representatives Craig Shank, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Microsoft, Shawn A. Covell, Vice President, Government Affairs, Qualcomm, and WIL members Maria Pernas, Senior Vice President, Group Legal Department, Atos and Viktorija Smatko, Principal Adviser, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.
Béatrice Delmas-Linel, Managing partner at Osborne Clarke France and WIL Board Member closed the Athens Bi-Annual with some empowering remarks. She reminded the participants that “Sky is the limit”, and now was the time to focus on the “whole picture”. Ms. Delmas-Linel invited all the attendees to participate in a networking cocktail which culminated the exciting and enlightening day.
On January 28th, 2015 the Directorate General of the French Treasury, in collaboration with WIL, held a second French language seminar focusing on “Women’s paths to success in the economic and financial field of senior administration”. This year, the event tackled three themes in different breakout session that are relevant not only to women in finance or administration, but to all women working in the modern work force, which include; pursuing a career abroad, Transitioning from a public to a private career, and visa-versa, and balancing your career and life outside work.
Opening the day, Sandrine Duchêne, Deputy Director General of the Treasury and Chief economist, discussed the efforts being made by the Treasury to ensure women are given opportunities to advance their careers, before handing the floor to Thaima Samman, WIL President for welcoming remarks and guest speaker Nathalie Loiseau, Director of l’ENA for a keynote. In her opening speech, Ms. Loiseau discussed the importance of diversity in public and private organisations, not just in terms of gender, but also in terms of nationality, religion and all other diversities. Ms. Loiseau highlighted that diversity brings innovation, perspective and makes for a better work place. Moreover, she stressed the importance of not being afraid to take risks, tackle new challenges and make mistakes. Her final word was on the importance of joining and utilising networks, formal and informal, as networks help to make you smarter by offering learning opportunities and experience sharing, as well as connect you to people and opportunities.
Leading the first breakout session, WIL members Béatrice Delmas-Linel, Partner at Osborne Clarke and Mary Dupont-Madinier, Partner, Valtus Transitions, shared their experiences and moderated a lively discussion on pursuing a career abroad. Within this session, WIL and DG Tresor interveners shared their experiences and started a dialogue with 25 women and men on the opportunities opened up because of international careers, what it takes to make the decisions to move abroad, how to prepare to move and most importantly the need to be flexible and open to new ways of working and living.
The second breakout session, on navigating a path from the public sector to the private sector and vice-versa, was moderated by WIL President Thaima Samman. Similarly, 20 women and men heard from a variety of interveners who had traversed the public/private divide to lead successful careers. From this discussion emerged on the career paths not being linear but a combination of different experience, the different structure of private vs. public sector – with the public sector being more clearly structured and outlined and the private sector more blurred, and the need to adaptable to new work rhythms, places and people. Ultimately, both private and public sector experiences offer quality experiences and the exchanges ended on the benefit of having both experiences under your belt in order to be more well –rounded.
Lastly, the third panel tackled the always-relevant topic of balancing your career and life outside work. Moderated by Sandrine Duchêne, the discussion included interventions from WIL Members Maria Pernas, Senior Vice-President and Group Deputy General Counsel, Legal and Compliance, ATOS Group and Christiane Féral-Schuhl, Founder and Associate, Féral-Schul/Sainte-Marie as well as Women Talent Pool Member Lidia Rodriguez Fernandez, Business Analyst at Orange and sparked a lively exchange with the 25 participants in the breakout session. Ultimately, the conversation centred on how technology has allowed for greater improvement in the way that we organise our work days, enabling more flexibility in work and leisure. Furthermore, Ms. Pernas and Ms. Rodriguez Fernandez shared best practices on what Atos and Orange are doing to encourage a better balance between working and life outside of the office.
Closing the session, Ms. Axelle Lemaire, Minister of State for Digital Affairs of the French Government addressed the entire group about her experiences being a woman in politics and the importance of the continual efforts to integrate diversity, of all types, into the each and every work force at all levels. She mentioned that this is something that needs to take root culturally, not just in regulation or legislation. She encouraged more encounters such as the WIL-DG Tresor session, in order to keep topics revolving around women in the workplace and in leadership roles at the current cultural and national dialogues. Lastly, touching upon her focus area, the digital sector, she drew attention to the transformative nature of the sector, the lack of women working within the sector at the moment, and most importantly the opportunities that await women and men who seek challenging, flexible and rewarding careers. The session ended with a networking luncheon where discussion on all of the themes covered throughout the morning carried over into further enlightening interactions and new connections.
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*
© European Network for Women in Leadership 2018