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.
TRIESTE, ITALY - On October 29th, WIL participated at the Global Forum in ICT conference by hosting a breakfast session focused on “Women’s Careers in the Digital Age”, which looked at two aspects, the first being the opportunities offered in the Digital Sector and the second focused on best practices from companies- what is being done to encourage and retain women in digital sector.
WIL has been involved with the Global Forum for the past 4 years thanks to Sylviane Toporkoff, WIL member, Founder & Partner at Items international and President of Global Forum/Shaping the Future. It is always wonderful to both attend and participate in an event such as the Global Forum, and this year WIL had a full room of men and women, as well as a wonderful panel of speakers including Maureen Ohlhausen, Federal Trade Commissioner for the United States; Thaima Samman, WIL President; Gabrielle Gauthey, Executive Vice-President Global Government and Public Affairs, Alcatel Lucent; Eliane Fiolet, Co-Founder & Editor of Ubergizmo; Marta Turk, President of the CCI- Regional Chamber of Commerce- Ljubljana & Founder of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs in Slovenia; Marcella Logli, Director of Corporate Communication and Public Relations at Telecom Italia SPA and General Secretary at The Fondazione Telecom Italia and Claudia Selli, EU Affairs Director at AT&T. WIL also included one of our great Emerging Leader’s Myriam El-Ouni, Alliance Manager at Microsoft in the session to deliver a wrap-up and short testimony.
Ms. Ohlhausen, delivered an opening keynote where she imparted a wealth of knowledge and encouraged women to identify future career trends, not just present day opportunities, particularly when working in fast paced innovative sectors like ICT. Additionally, Ms. Ohlhausen expressed the importance of networking and finding a mentor, as they are integral to gathering information, making connections and getting yourself known.
Delving into the panel session, Thaima Samman set the tone of the discussion by highlighting the issue of the lack of women working or pursuing careers in the ICT sector and explaining the need to look at the root of the issue and find solutions to improve gender equality.
Opportunities in the Digital Sector
On the perspective of opportunities offered in the Digital Sector, Gabrielle Gauthey emphasised the vastness of the ICT sector and the diversified careers that encompass it, from specified technical opportunities to broader opportunities in areas like Human Resources and Government Affairs. Ms. Gauthey expressed that these opportunities are not only within the ICT sector itself, but that ICT related jobs exist in other sectors such as industry and transport. Bringing a different angle Eliane Fiolet, Founder of Ubergizmo, shared with the audience the surge of career possibilities in the field of online media such as blogging. She highlighted that more women than ever before are pursuing careers and becoming successful in blogging and internet media because women are the majority of users and there is significant work flexibility in this new field of work.
Re-emphasising the aspect of flexibility in digitally inclined careers, Thaima Samman shared that a recent internal study conducted by Lenovo on the topic of Women in ICT revealed not only that women enjoy working in the digital sector but also that the flexibility, challenging environment, innovation and contribution to core activities were the main reasons why. Marta Turk, then shared the perspective of female entrepreneurs and expressed that ICT is becoming the base for future development in entrepreneurship, both in the ICT sector and outside of it, hence the need to encourage women to seek opportunities and start businesses that are tech friendly.
Women in the Digital Sector & Best Practices
Sharing their best practices, Claudia Selli and Marcella Logli explained how their respective companies are addressing the recruitment and retention of women in ICT, Telecoms and Teleco’s. Claudia Selli shared how AT&T is challenged in finding women with engineering backgrounds, especially now that the company is undergoing a transition into IP. To remedy this and encourage more women to enter the sector AT&T is offering the first tech-online degree with Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States. Additionally, AT&T has started an internal women’s network with the aim of mentoring and fostering the potential of women, because they recognise that women bring a different and valuable perspective to the work place.
Marcella Logli similarly expressed the need for more women with ICT backgrounds, emphasising from her own personal experience as a graduate in informatics the number of career opportunities available. Ms. Logli advised that women actively seek out mentors and engage with them, as it is a valuable way to gain knowledge and greater understanding of any sector.
Wrapping-up the session WIL emerging leaders Myriam El Ouni summarised the advice that was shared and stressed the importance of encouraging women to pursue both education and careers in ICT to better equip themselves to take advantage of the endless opportunities offered in the 'digital age'.
On September 20th, Directorate General of the French Treasury, held a French language seminar together with WIL focused on “Women’s paths to success in the economic and financial field of senior administration”. Although the seminar was geared largely towards the public sector and finance, it discussed many pertinent aspects that are relevant to women in various fields. Many speakers touched upon the absence of role models for women, and a lack of knowledge in terms of career possibilities in the finance sector. A common theme throughout the morning related to the ongoing battle to balance a professional and personal life.
Kicking-off the session with opening remarks were two well-known and accomplished female ministers, Fleur Pellerin, Minister for SMEs, Innovation and the Digital Economy, and Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister for Women’s Rights. Each minister identified issues and barriers relevant to women’s advancement in the financial and economic fields of the public sector, with Fleur Pellerin touching on the lack of mentorship and role models at high levels as well as on the lack of understanding on career possibilities within the financial sector. Moreover, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, highlighted some of the positive advancements made in France to date, and stressed the ongoing importance of re-thinking the structure of work, to become more flexible and balanced, to feminize an organisation - so as to benefit not only women but also men.
Ramon Fernandez, Director General of the French Treasury, followed with a speech focused on the ongoing movements within his institution. He re-emphasised the 2010 goal to improve female numbers within the Treasury, as they work towards promoting greater work life-balance for all employees. Additionally, Mr. Fernandez revealed that, in an attempt to educate young people on the career possibilities in finance, the Treasury hosts once a year a ‘bring your children to work day’.
Opening the panel, Thaima Samman, WIL President, highlighted the fact that there is not one specific female issue but, that we all have issues, male or female, especially in regards to balancing professional and personal time. Additionally, she addressed the constantly present topic of maternity, stating that this is an unavoidable aspect when discussing the ‘feminization’ of an organisation, but, it should not be a restriction to any woman’s career.
The panel discussion, moderated by Béatrice Delmas-Linel, Partner at Osborne Clarke, allowed top level managers to share their stories and challenges as women building their careers. Panel members included: Sandrine Duchêne, Deputy Director General of the Treasury and Chief economist, Maya Atig, Deputy Director General for the Agence France Trésor, Béatrice Felder, Director of Domain Customer Contact Solutions at Orange, Astrid Milsan, Deputy Director General for the Agence des Participations de l’Etat, Sandrine Gaudin, Director for Europe at the Treasury and Marie-Thérèse Huppertz, Lawyer.
For some on the panel, like Sandrine Duchêne, access to the financial sector and to this line of education was a barrier in their early careers and for women more broadly. However, as society has progressed this access to education or to the sector is not so severely an issue, but instead barriers lie in the lack of understanding in terms of career opportunities for women, the lack of self-confidence and risk taking, and in outdated ‘old boys’ selection process for organizational advancement.
Beatrice Felder strongly advocated for women to believe in their capabilities and to learn to take risks, Maya Atig complimented this as she encouraged women to always keep in mind what they want out of their careers and to go for it. Astrid Milsan brought up the dichotomy of giving greater access to women to enter the field of Finance, while needing to ensure that there is a pipeline of women with the qualifications and competencies to fill positions. Relating to this on a broader European level, Sandrine Gaudin and Marie-Thérèse Huppertz stressed the need to encourage women to study in areas that are typically male dominated such as ICT, industry and of course Finance.
On 14th June, the European Network for Women in Leadership (WIL) held its first biannual meeting in Rome, Italy, in the magnificent locations of Villa Medici and Palazzo Farnese. Over one hundred guests from all over Europe and beyond took the opportunity to share prolific ideas on Innovation and Competitiveness 2.0 with a plethora of high-level speakers that innovate or leverage growth in sectors as varied as information and communication technology, energy, medicine, education or international affairs.
In a special session, the Women Talent Pool took advantage of this occasion to learn from inspiring role models about leadership styles adaptable to challenging situation.
Moreover, for the first time, a regional WIL chapter for Italian members was launched to increase WIL’s international activities.
Where are the Women 2.0?
The director of the French Academy housed in the Villa Medici, Éric de Chassey, personally welcomed the guests at the location famous for its historical significance, cultural projects and, of course, the academy’s excellent fellows, half of which are currently women. WIL President Thaima Samman then opened the floor for the first session on the topic “Where are the women 2.0?”
Some of the most competitive sectors in the current economy are generally drawing few women, because of deep-rooted stereotypes and/or poor advertising. The discussion facilitated by Isabella de Michelis di Slonghello, Vice-President of Public Policy and Government Affairs at Qualcomm EMEA, demonstrated, through concrete examples, that this situation can be reversed, as women’s innovative potential and ability to take initiative can act as drivers of growth.
In her introductory speech, Joanna Drake, Director of the Promotion of SMEs competitiveness at the Directorate General Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission, emphasized the economic benefits of female entrepreneurship in the EU and pointed to the Commission’s Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan for concrete steps towards establishing the right conditions for female entrepreneurs to succeed and for SMEs to flourish and concentrate on creating jobs (currently, SMEs make up 99% of companies in Europe and employ 77% of the workforce).
Innovative corporate practices, building on women’s increasing connectivity, were presented by Brigitte Dumont, Chief Officer Corporate Social Responsibility at Orange, addressing the ever-present issue of the lack of women in ICT. She underscored the fact that gender equality was now an issue of corporate responsibility and that more and more companies are supporting women through HR policies and internal and external networks. Orange, for example, created a strategic steering committee, chaired by WIL member Delphine Ernotte Cunci, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Senior Executive Vice President of Orange France, to increase women in positions of responsibility.
Similarly, Roberta Cocco, Central Marketing Director for Microsoft Italy, shared Microsoft’s efforts to promote work-life balance, women’s access to IT training and the visibility of female role models that inspire girls and young women to aim for big careers. In this sense, she emphasized that breaching the gender gap also meant breaching the digital divide.
Several other effective best practices were shared by Marina Brogi, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Economics at La Sapienza University Rome, who gave examples from the field of corporate governance to increase the amount of women on boards, in particular the quota measure as a means to facilitate access, and Stefania Lazzaroni, Communications and Talent Director at Discovery Networks Italy, who promoted the acceptance of diverse and discontinuous career paths, particularly common among women, and stressed the benefits of embracing change and new challenges, both for women leaders and for companies.
The discussion was enriched by the presence of representatives of two dynamic Italian women associations: Marcella Logli, Head of Corporate Identity and Public Relations at Telecom Italia, member of Valore D, and Nicoletta Marin Gentilini, CEO of Gentilinidue and member of Fondazione Bellisario. Valore D is an association which helps women reach management positions in major companies, and Fondazione Bellisario is a foundation, whose mission is to foster the professional advancement of women and reward successful female leaders.
The first session thus offered a variety of concrete ideas and suggestions to improve women’s representation in all aspects of the professional sphere, based on tried-and-true company measures as well as personal experiences. After a short networking break, Emerging Leader Pauline Henaff, Account Manager for Orange Business Services, was asked to sum up the previous session and the main aspects she took away from it. As a member of the Women Talent Pool, she felt particularly inspired to become a role model for young girls herself and share her experiences as a leader, thus helping to nourish the talent pipeline with the next generation.
Launch of the Italian WIL Chapter
Before the beginning of the second session, WIL board member Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Health Director at Microsoft EMEA, interviewed Emanuela Palazzani, Strategic Planner at T-Immobil Srl, about the development of an Italian WIL chapter, including the selection of high profile candidates for the network and the Women Talent Pool Program.
A second very dynamic round-table, moderated by WIL President Thaima Samman, brought together a diverse panel of speakers from several sectors, and revolved around the different aspects that make an economy competitive.
Thaima Samman began by addressing Cristiana Falcone Sorrell, Senior Adviser to the Founder and Chairman of the World Economic Forum, who introduced the results of the Forum’s benchmark study on European competitiveness and mentioned the key drivers for innovation and sustainability, which are inherently connected.
The global dimension was also articulated by Kristin Schreiber, Deputy Head of Cabinet of Michel Barnier, Commissioner for Internal Market and Services at the European Commission, who focused on the digital single market as the new frontier in EU politics that needs to be overcome to further European competitiveness. Even though a lot has already improved, difficulties across borders remain, especially with regards to customer services.
Client relations were also at the center of the speech of Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, Senior Vice President of International & Backbone Network Factory at Orange. She spoke about the mobile mass market and its effects on the telecommunications sector: the evolution of a fast-paced market that must be followed by an evolution of online competencies of employees.
Developing said competencies should be the focus of education, yet another important driver of competitiveness. Guest speaker Jan Mühlfeit, Chairman of Microsoft EMEA, urged that curriculums must be updated to accommodate the demands of an increasingly global and digital world. He criticized the outdated teaching methods of certain educational institutions, which focus on students’ weaknesses rather than their talents and strengths, and called for a fundamental change of the system.
Two representatives of SMEs weighed in as well: Nicolò Manaresi, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Silicon Biosystems, who highlighted the key challenges in bringing an idea from the lab to the market and what Europe could do to support innovative start-ups, and Myriam Maestroni, CEO of Economie d’Energie, who presented her company’s successful business model to increase competitiveness in a sustainable way.
Before the evening ended with a buffet, drinks, and a spectacular view over Rome’s skyline, WIL had the pleasure to welcome a special guest: Marta Dassù, Deputy Minister of Italy’s Foreign Affairs, who urged to rethink the concepts of power and leadership and called for contributions from WIL members for the Expo 2015 in Milan on “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, proposing a WIL Biannual Event 2015 in Milan. According to her, international initiatives play a key role in advancing society and increasing competitiveness.
Finally, Emerging Leader Claire Cheremetinski, Investor Director of the Energy Division at the French Directorate-General of the Treasury, concisely summarized the main elements of the second round-table session, highlighting the notion of innovation as a means to meet people’s needs rather than merely to increase productivity. Specifically, the round-table revealed that competitiveness is the sum of many different parts and must be approached from all angles.
Last but not least, WIL General Secretary Pinuccia Contino, Head of Unit Communication and Relations with Stakeholders at the Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission, summarized WIL’s successful activities and concluded the evening with words that left everyone feeling optimistic and encouraged to continue the work of the WIL network. She summarized WIL’s successful activities, including the very inspiring Biannual Event, and praised the authenticity and passion of the invited speakers and the WIL members in general, which prove that “each one of us can make a difference”.
Overall, the entire day was a success, packed with insightful and thought-provoking discussions, presentations and testimonies. Moreover, WIL members and guests outside the network took advantage of the many networking opportunities and the exceptional locations provided. This event underscored the fact that Europe’s competitiveness also lies in the hands of the many capable women present that day and in their ongoing cooperation – a goal which WIL will continue to facilitate with future projects and events.
Follow this link to watch an interview with Thaima Samman and Emanuela Palazzani on Italian TV (in Italian only).
On the occasion of the first WIL Biannual Meeting in 2013 in Rome, WIL took the opportunity to gather its members for the Annual Ordinary General Assembly, taking place in the morning of 14th June at Palazzo Farnese. This meeting allowed WIL members to get informed about WIL’s activities and progress. Prior to the assembly, they had already witnessed the results of the development of the Women Talent Pool program, in which Emerging Leaders presented their leadership experiences.
To open the General Assembly, WIL President Thaima Samman thanked the sponsors Microsoft, Orange, Qualcomm, Talentia Software, De Gaulle, Fleurance & Associates and INSEAD, as well as the Scientific and Economic Mission of the French Embassy in Italy for their generous offer to use the premises of Palazzo Farnese. 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 WIL General Manager Isabelle de Mèredieu.
The General Manager referred to the current numbers of the growing WIL membership and partnerships and the Women Talent Pool program. In 2012, WIL recruited several new individual members and established the new partnership with Qualcomm, which actively supports the Women Talent Pool program. The program has successfully offered many coaching sessions to the Emerging Leaders, for example on career hindrances and boosters and on leadership styles.
Isabelle de Mèredieu also briefly summarized the extensive amount of events that WIL had been involved in in 2012 and since 2013, most notably the Global Forum in ICT in Stockholm on 13 November 2012, the WIL Biannual Event at the French Assembly on 22 October 2012, and the presentation of the Women and Power study in Brussels on 11 March. She also mentioned the variety of online coachings offered, and other opportunities that involved the participation of WIL members.
She then gave the floor to WIL Treasurer Bertrand Salord, Government Affairs Manager for Microsoft Europe, who related the details of the annual accounts of WIL to the members. He also established the outcomes of the online vote on the accounts and the WIL resolutions, stating that all resolutions were approved.
Finally, Thaima Samman invited the attending WIL members to future WIL events, such as the WIL session on “Women’s Careers in the Digital Age” for the Global Forum in ICT on 29 October in Trieste and the second WIL Biannual Event on 6 December in London. She emphasized the importance of the members’ contributions and the goal of WIL to become even more interactive and to continue expanding its network throughout all of Europe, with the help of its international members.
On 11th March, a dinner debate on “Women and Power”, organized by Thaima Samman, WIL President and Partner of Cabinet Samman, together with Evelyn Gessler, President of Club L Benelux, took place at the “Cercle Gaulois” in Brussels. The Club L is a network of over 200 high level women from the world of politics, business, arts and media that regularly organizes networking events, with the aim of supporting women in finding new opportunities to reach top leadership levels.
The guest of honor and speaker was Viviane de Beaufort, Professor at ESSEC Business School and WIL member, invited to present the key conclusions of the “Women and Power” study that she published in October 2012 - a multidimensional study centered on the relationship between women and power, and a modern reflection on contemporary models of governance and leadership.
Evelyn Gessler, President of Club L Benelux, opened the event by warmly welcoming everyone and, together with WIL President Thaima Samman, highlighted the special occasion of their meeting that day. She thanked Thaima Samman for inviting Viviane de Beaufort to share the results of her study, and thus making this evening happen.
Thaima Samman then took the floor to add her thanks to those already expressed and stressed her pleasure in knowing that there would be many other occasions for future gatherings like this.
Viviane de Beaufort was then welcomed on stage. In addition to being a Professor at ESSEC Business School and Director of the law program, Viviane de Beaufort holds a Doctorate in European Community Law and in Political Science, and is Co-Director of the European Center for Law and Economics and the author of numerous publications on Corporate Governance topics. She also founded the "Women Be European Board Ready" program and is actively involved in several think tanks, as well as in European Public Affairs. As the founder and Academic Director of Women-ESSEC programs, she is committed to the progress of gender relations, and in October 2012 published a new survey titled “Women and Power: taboo or new governance model”.
The evening was divided into two parts. In the first part, Viviane de Beaufort presented the main conclusions of her study: Western culture tends to argue the existence of gendered characteristics; those traditionally deemed “masculine”, such as competitiveness and not displaying emotions, and those deemed “feminine”, such as empathy, listening and relational skills and intuitiveness. Corporate culture tends to value these stereotypically “masculine” virtues over “feminine” ones, even though an ideal leader should be a mixed one, who can integrate both models. Today women take part in Board meetings in ever greater numbers. Will their influence help to make the leadership role model evolve?
Viviane also mentioned her hopes for the Generation Y she currently teaches at ESSEC business school, noting that these boys and girls seem to have a well-balanced view of the role of men and women in the family and in the work environment – which bodes well for tomorrow’s leaders. She also explained that according to the study women have a different relationship to power, and that often their careers are more about contributing to a cause of general interest or to self-accomplishment. Sometimes women lose their will to pursue their career, because they feel that it is no longer in line with their values. Some women also have to learn to consider a high level job not only a responsibility but as a pleasurable task!
The second part was composed of a debate and questions from the audience. Various questions were asked about women quotas and the controversy following Viviane Reding’s fight to get the EU Commission to impose binding quotas for the boards of corporations across the continent, a measure not all women in the room could agree to. The question of women quotas remains a tough battle that will hopefully change the perception of leadership in companies, as it “forces male leaders to think outside the box about what a company needs at each level of their company and in particular at the top level. As they need to find women, they’re forced to modify their leadership criteria (ex: time spent in the office, brutal behaviors often confused with leadership…)” (Thaima Samman).
Many other questions followed, highlighting the need to educate boys as well as girls in this new approach and also the consequences that visibility can sometimes have for a woman in a high-level position. Women must be supported and get ready to face this visibility and the conflicts that are inherent to having such a position. But like men, they have to learn to see it as a rule of the game and a positive challenge!
Some questions also came up about how to prepare the future generation for these challenges. This eager generation must be protected but also prepared to take advantage of the new opportunities that await them in their future business lives. We need to convey a positive image of the game to our daughters, inspire them to join the game and change the world as well!
Representing WIL among the attending guests were:
Thaima Samman, WIL President and Partner of Samman law & corporate affairs firm
Afke Schaart, Senior Director of EU Institutional Relations, Microsoft
Pinuccia Contino, Head of Multilingualism and Translation Studies at the European Commission
Isabella Lenarduzzi, Founder and CEO of JUMP
Edyta Ziomek, Policy Officer, Multilingualism and Translation Studies at the European Commission and WIL Emerging Leader
Pénélope Roux, Operational Director at Microsoft Innovation Center Brussels and WIL Emerging Leader
Club L had invited, among others:
Françoise Meunier, Director of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer
Christine Roger, Director of Media and Communication at the Council of the European Union
Anne-Christine Genouville, Director of the French Chamber of Commerce in Belgium
Véronique Halloin-Helbig de Balzac, Secretary General of the National Fund for Scientific Research
Françoise Bertieaux, President of Group MR in the Parliament of the French Community in Belgium
Martine Van Den Poel, Program Director and Executive Coach at INSEAD
Mara Caboara, Sustainable Management Consultant at Mara Caboara consulting
Marie-Cécile Van Grieken, Secretary General at ICHEC
On 17th May François Bogacz – CEO of Neuroawareness Consulting Services – led a second online session on neurosciences and leadership for a group of WIL members.
The “Neurosciences and Leadership: Anything New?” session is part of a comprehensive online program designed for dynamic executives interested in learning about neuro-principles applicable to their professional and private lives. Through this unique training, participants got to know efficient techniques of decision-making, self-motivation and stress regulation, which are particularly useful to entrepreneurs and business leaders operating in a multicultural environment.
François Bogacz, who designed the program, worked as a business development and marketing executive in leading global IT and electronics companies: Microsoft, Hitachi and Philips. He is also the co-founder of Convirgent, one of the first companies to merge mediation, coaching, facilitation and applied neuroscience, and of the Neuroawareness® initiative.
Mr. Bogacz graduated from Telecom Paris, one of the finest institutions in the field of telecommunications, and from the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation. He is an IMI (International Mediation Institute) certified mediator, a De Bono Thinking Systems Facilitator and holds a Post-Graduate Certificate in Neuroscience of Leadership.
After successful participation in Global Forum events in Washington and Brussels, for the third consecutive year WIL organized its session at this prestigious annual ICT conference. The 2012 edition, held in Stockholm, brought together around 300 international decision-makers and entrepreneurs to discuss the latest developments in information technologies, market regulation and business opportunities. Fifty participants gathered at WIL’s session for a lively debate on collaborative networks, during which ideas and insights into various aspects of networking were exchanged by the speakers: Beatrice Covassi, Digital Agenda Counselor at the Delegation of the European Union to the USA; Samia Melhem, Lead ICT Specialist at the World Bank; Deborah Leary, CEO of Forensic Pathways; and Delphine Girod Roux, Head of Orange France point of sales Performance Department and WIL Emerging Talent. Béatrice Delmas-Linel, Partner at De Gaulle, Fleurance & Associés law firm and WIL Board member, moderated the discussion.
The main theme of the meeting was the impact of collaborative and social, virtual and offline networks on women’s careers. In the center of our speakers’ attention were challenges and opportunities that emerge in the new digital space of interaction.
Debate and a Q&A session at the Grand Hotel
Béatrice Delmas-Linel briefly introduced WIL to the audience, and placed the idea of networking in the larger context of the dynamic presence of women in the professional world.
Beatrice Covassi shared her thoughts on the Internet as “the fourth dimension” entangled in our life. She spoke about some of the consequences of this immersion in the virtual world, such as the overlapping of professional and private circles. She also discussed questions related to the simultaneous use of different online platforms, and specific challenges posed by “the dematerialization of existence”. In her closing remarks, Ms. Covassi evoked the multicultural dimension of online connections, and referred to the emergence of an Internet community as a public opinion of its own kind.
Samia Melhem spoke about ICT projects supported by the World Bank, focused on engendering and democratizing access in emerging economies. She analyzed major reasons and consequences of reluctance by women to enter social media – a common attitude among women in developing countries, where “taboos about putting your profile online” still remain, and where ICT tools are mostly used to stay in touch with loved ones. Ms. Melhem also shared observations on the use of online tools within international organizations. For women, the chance to stay connected through online platforms is of particular value, she said, as it supports work-life balance and allows networking even when physical presence is impossible.
Deborah Leary focused on the challenge of strategic networking, and discussed it from the perspective of an independent entrepreneur. She emphasized the importance of thinking about oneself as a brand, and of learning to shape one’s brand online. According to Ms. Leary professionals should “listen to the network” instead of only “giving out to the network”, as the Internet and other ICT tools give them access to an incredibly rich source of intelligence.
Delphine Girod Roux discussed collaborative and social networks as a part of the career building process and their importance for boosting visibility at an early stage of leadership. She also spoke about the relationship between online and offline communication skills. However, in her opinion, it is important to strike a balance between real and online meetings, and the Women Talent Pool program, with its alternate online and offline training sessions, was a perfect example of such a balanced approach.
During a Q&A session that followed, WIL speakers talked about such issues as data privacy management, unintended consequences of our immediate online actions, and risks related to the overlapping of networks. In their conclusion, the speakers pointed out the most important benefits of belonging to a women’s network: sharing experiences with others who face the same challenges, possibilities to learn and empathize, improved visibility and conscious building of one’s professional identity. The meeting was closed by Sylviane Toporkoff, WIL member and one of the coordinators of the Global Forum event.
WIL’s survey on networking habits
Apart from a lively debate, WIL took advantage of this high-level gathering to carry out a survey evaluating our audience’s interest in networking. Women constituted 95% of our sample.
All our respondents are part of a network. While 82% of them are involved in at least two networks, 55% report being in three or more*.
Among different categories of networks chosen by our respondents, a professional network outside the organization turns out to be the most popular (90%). A professional network inside the organization and an alumni association were indicated by 55% of respondents. Hobby networks (32%) are more frequently chosen than those focused on professional training (18%). Not a single respondent declared involvement in a training network created inside their organization. This may be one of the reasons why the percentage of respondents who indicated that they had joined their networks to accelerate promotion prospects was relatively low (22%).
Almost three-fourths of interviewees belong to a network because it allows them to meet professionals from their sector. Forty-five percent believe networking supports their personal development. Others engage in networking to get access to useful information and resources (36%), meet potential clients (32%) or discover new career opportunities (27%). Only 18% of respondents indicate development of their own business as one of their main networking objectives, and three-thirds of those who chose this option are in top management positions in small and medium-sized enterprises.
Activities within the network indicated by our audience vary significantly. Repeatedly mentioned were: sharing experiences, training, coaching, mentoring and promotion. Some of our respondents evoked purely professional activities, such as developing e-governance; others focused on the social aspect of networking, in particular on the exchange of ideas.
According to our respondents, crucial for communication with other members of their networks are business networking services, emails and events. Direct meetings and their network’s intranet are used to a lesser degree (68% and 63% respectively). Almost half of the respondents contact members of their networks through general social networking sites such as Facebook. Of note is that more traditional ways of communication are becoming dominated by virtual exchange and online platforms. Most of our respondents get in touch with other members of their networks at least once a month. For half of them the usual frequency of contact is once a week. Twenty-seven percent declare they have exchanges with other members on a daily basis.
While 60% of respondents are satisfied with their networking experience, the percentage of those who are “very satisfied” and “neutral” is the same, totaling 18%. Only 4% of respondents declare being “unsatisfied” with their networking experience. Those who engage actively in numerous networks tend to use more communication tools, and to be more satisfied with their involvement than passive members of a smaller number of networks.
* For some of the questions the sum of percentages exceeds 100%, as respondents could choose more than one response.
Four members of the European Network for Women in Leadership: WIL President Thaima Samman, Laure Kaltenbach (General Manager of the Forum), Claudine Schmuck (Director at Global Contact) and Cristina Hoffmann (Design Lead at Orange, and WIL Emerging Leader) attended this unique event that gathers over 400 people every year for inspiring exchanges and discussions on weaving links between culture and economy.
The 2012 edition brought together 450 participants of 42 nationalities. During three days of debates, performances, exhibitions and meetings, players from the worlds of culture, academia, politics, arts, economy and media shared and created ideas around the central theme of “Culture: Reasons to hope”.
This is how the organizers explain their choice of this edition’s leitmotif in an ebook published after the event: “Responding to the ambient pessimism, the Forum d’Avignon wishes to counter it with reasons to hope for and thanks to culture. To feed them, the Forum d’Avignon relies on strong convictions and realities: on the capacity for innovation of creators renewed by the digital revolution, and their contribution to society, and in a more ambitious way, on the integration of creative imagination as a springboard for social and economic development”.
Orange, WIL Premium Partner, also marked its presence at the Forum. Stéphane Richard, the group’s Chief Executive Officer, participated in the debate “The reasons to hope for culture”, where he spoke of culture as being at the heart of the digital divide. Armelle Pasco and David Lacombled, Directors of Partnerships & Content Strategy, together with Thierry Grillet of the French National Library animated the “Candide or the (Re)birth of the book” session on the digital version of the Voltaire’s novella.
As Cristina Hoffmann, WIL Emerging Leader, emphasizes in her report on the event, the Forum was filled with “outstanding contributions on how culture and creation can give us reasons to hope for the future of our society and our economy”.
To read the full document, download the PDF attached below.
By following this link you can download an ebook giving a detailed description of the whole event and specific sessions, excerpts from speeches, photographs, videos and social media content.
© European Network for Women in Leadership 2018