"Women do need to help each other to share experience and join forces" - Interview to Eleonora Rocca
Interview by Rossella Forle’
I met Eleonora in central London a few weeks ago. During our dinner we have been talking about her career, the process she went through when she started as entrepreneur, what it means being a successful woman in a male-dominated tech industry and the best way to talk to women about career and business.
You can benefit from her experience and her advice and I hope this interview will inspire you, as I’d love to see more and more female tech entrepreneurs in the future. Here you go:
Tell us about the most exciting part of your work at the moment
The most exciting part is the creative part. I love building things, creating projects from scratch, to see things that I write on a piece of paper taking off and growing.
What has been your most career-defining moment that you are proud of?
I’ll mention two of them. The first one is when I was product marketing manager at Microsoft, where I could work on large campaigns which I rolled out across over 700 stores through the country.
The second one was when I decided to become an entrepreneur and create Digital Innovation Days.
When I started I could never believed that it would become one of the largest Italian events about Digital Marketing, Social Media and Innovation. I have put all my creativity, passion and my love for the tech space all together in something that was mine from the beginning to the end, something which I could decide about logo, colours and most of all values. It has been a massive satisfaction.
What do you think we should be doing to encourage more girls to consider a career in tech?
I believe that women in general should believe more in themselves when they approach the tech industry as well as the entrepreneurship and the leadership positions in general.
Sometimes I have the feeling that they are afraid of trying, so inspirational communities like We Hate Pink are the way forward. We do need to help each other, to share experiences, to join forces and make sure that more and more girls out there do not see the tech industry and leadership positions as something they cannot achieve but as something, they are willing to embrace with enthusiasm and determination.
What challenges have you faced in the workplace, especially your experience in male-dominated environments?
I have been in plenty of meetings where I was the only woman and when I was standing up taking the leads of things, I could feel that there was some sort of “surprise” for men in the room, as if it was “strange” to see a strong woman, opinionated and well-prepared on specific topics. Also, in entrepreneurship, I have been in many situations where men where approaching me very differently, comparing to their attitude towards male business partners.
In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle to women’s career progression?
Women want to have a family for example, which is often seen as taking too much time off from work, the reason why men are moving forward and faster in their career. Also, again, perhaps it is an attitude, some women tend to show less leadership skills than men and this allows manager to choose men over them. However, this is just my personal opinion.
Who has been your biggest advocate/mentor in your career and why?
I hope not to look too arrogant in saying this, however the biggest advocate/mentor in my career has been myself.
I have always set very high standard for myself, I have always been resilient, going through difficult situations and I always had clear in mind where I wanted to go and what I wanted to be.
In a management position, how have you found it best promoting and nurture women’s careers?
Giving them projects to develop independently, mentoring them on how to improve their leadership skills, working on boosting their self-esteem, giving them projects where they could collaborate often with other women, without getting into useless competitive games.
Who are your modern-day heroes?
Meryl Streep and Sheryl Sandberg.
Any reading/website you would recommend to stay updated?
What is your biggest stress reliever?
Dancing. I used to be a ballet dancer and any time I find the time to go back dancing, I feel like a stress reliever but also an incredible energy booster.
Eleonora will be one of the speakers of We Hate Pink event on 2 May at We Are Social, London.
The topic of the event is “The Glass Ceiling is cracked but not yet broken” - Are gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace real?
Diversity has become a highly publicised corporate goal, but progress has been slow. Considering the tons of panels, workshop and corporate programmes on gender diversity and inclusion, we think it’s time to check if the change is happening.
We will discuss it with Eleonora Rocca and a great representation of women from Twitter, Universal Pictures, BBC and Cannes Lions.
After 18 years of professional experience in important Italian and global companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Roberto Cavalli, Microsoft, Privalia, Kingston Technology and Tp-Link UK, in management roles in Sales & Marketing.
Eleonora lives in London now. She is an established entrepreneur, Marketing Manager, Digital Marketing Consultant, Speaker and Trainer, working in London, Milan and the United States.
She is CEO & Founder of Mashable Social Media Day + Digital Innovation Days, one of the most important Digital Marketing events in Italy.
For Social Media and Innovation, was the most tweeted event in Italy in 2017, with more than 1170 participants in 2017 and more than 1370 in 2018.
Eleonora is also Business Mentor for the ICRIOS Bocconi research center in Milan and for the Cherie Blair Foundation in London. Finally, she is the official organizer of the Lean Startup Machine Workshop Milano (editions 2015 and 2016) and Founder of the Fashion & Lifestyle Blog thebrunettecupcake.com.