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I am Silvia Bagliani, Managing Director of Snacks for Italy and Greece. I have a commercial background, with many years in marketing and sales and category planning, and have been with the company for 22 years.
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Tell Us About Yourself?
Silvia: I am Silvia Bagliani, Managing Director of Snacks for Italy and Greece. I have a commercial background, with many years in marketing and sales and category planning, and have been with the company for 22 years. I am married to Stefano and have two sons (9 and 12) and two step-sons (22 and 27).
How Do You Bring Our Purpose to Life?
Silvia: A strong purpose is key to developing engagement and I am very excited about our new purpose, which I find much more compelling for both the company and for all of us as employees. As a leader, I feel the responsibility to create a positive environment where people can grow and develop, feel included and heard, and where they are happy to come to work every day.
For example, in Italy we have developed many initiatives to help create a positive environment, including well-being initiatives - from yoga classes to mindfulness programs – and monthly sessions where colleagues can meet and talk with members of our leadership team. We also have a local awards program where employees can share their success stories and be recognized for their achievements.
Snacking Made Right is starting to guide our decisions and behaviors as we strengthen our programs around mindful snacking and sustainability in a holistic way. As a country leader, it's my duty to act in alignment with our Purpose and lead by example. On the brand side, we recently launched our 100 percent Italian Wheat claim for ORO, a well-known traditional Italian brand of breakfast biscuits. And from a people perspective, we rolled out a new project to make our office plastic-free, working with our suppliers to replace plastic disposables such as plates and cups in the company cafeteria, and distributing reusable water bottles to all employees.
What Characteristics Have You Been Intentional About Developing to Become the Leader That You Are Today?
Silvia: Authenticity and head and heart leadership. At the beginning of my current role, I was worried about being a good leader. I kept thinking about all the great qualities I admired in other leaders in the company and tried to replicate them. After a while, I decided to just be me! Embracing my authentic self helped everything to flow much easier – and was a lot more fun.
What's the Best Career Advice You've Ever Received?
> Be open and flexible and embrace new opportunities. I remember when one of my managers offered me an opportunity to move from marketing to sales for my development. At the time, I was hesitant as I loved brand strategy and felt that sales wasn't 'my world.' Looking back, I know that I would not be where I am today had I not made that cross-functional move. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, broadened my experience and accelerated my growth.
What was the Most Difficult Decision You Had to Make in Your Life and/or Career and What Did You Learn from It?
Silvia: I was Marketing Director in Italy when the company underwent a big transformation, moving strategic roles to Zurich. My husband and I were not mobile for family reasons, and it was difficult to see so many great roles available without being able to apply. Even so, I continued to do what I was doing with the same energy, and eventually new opportunities became available in Italy. I found that it's ok to have a slow-down in your career and to stay longer in a role, as long as you continue to perform with energy and passion. Another opportunity will come up, sooner or later. Careers are not always linear, sometimes they remain flat for a while and then there is a big jump at once!
How Do You Manage a Dual Career (Where Both You and Your Partner Work?
Silvia: My husband works in a different city and travels extensively. Luckily, we have a fantastic nanny that is always present with the children managing the day-to-day. On the other hand, dual careers make mobility more complicated. It is difficult to drive both careers at the same time if one is asked to move, but it is not easy to give up one's aspirations if they are important for personal fulfillment. To be honest, I have not found a solution to this yet (If you have any ideas, please let me know!) For now, both my husband and I continue to work with great satisfaction in our current roles and are open to what the future may bring.
How Can Women Set Up a Path to Achieve Their Ambitions While Finding Balance Between Career and Home and Family Life?
Silvia: What's right for an individual and their family is different for everyone – and it can change over time. That's why it's important to be clear on your requirements and be honest when identifying how much you can stretch in terms of career and family. Decisions become less stressful when we are clear on what priorities matter most. I have always known that I would continue to work after starting a family. Working together with colleagues and teams and facing the daily challenges of work gives me great energy and satisfaction. At the same time, I want to be there for my kids as they are very important to me. I try to be present for their most important moments and MDLZ provides enough flexibility to be a supportive and involved parent.
What Has Been Your Experience as a Women in the Workplace?
Silvia: I'm proud to say that in MDLZ Italy we have good representation of women on the leadership team and in all the functions at different levels. I have never thought of myself as a woman during my career and have never felt treated differently or discriminated against. I have had inspiring managers, mentors and colleagues who have helped me grow professionally and personally - whether providing help and support in times of difficulty or offering time to chat when I needed to see something from a different perspective.
However, I know this is not everyone's experience and we have improvements to make in terms of representation of women in leadership roles across the company. Coaching and mentoring are keys to help women, and all colleagues, develop their careers and see what is possible. For women, mobility is often an even stronger barrier than for men. We should consider what type of flexibility, support, development we can offer for colleagues that are not mobile.
As an MD in a country like Italy where there are few women at the top, I understand that many women are looking for role models. I am very proud to provide inspiration and optimism to others by demonstrating that a successful career is possible for all who want to run for it and to develop themselves, without giving up family life.
What Gives You Energy and Fulfillment?
Silvia: People and relationships are very important to me. And obviously, my family wins first place! My husband and my kids are the biggest joy of my life. My team at work also gives me a lot of energy and makes me very proud. I love working with them and even in the toughest moments, we manage to enjoy what we do with many good laughs. I also love travelling and spend a lot of my free time planning and organizing the next trip. I traveled before kids and now bring them along for the fun! We are all very fond of animals so many of the trips we take include some kind of wildlife experience. Some recent great trips have been Western Australia, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica. Next up on the list is Tanzania!