How did childhood shape you?
I’m number two, and therefore probably more of a jerk who doesn’t always follow the rules. My dad was a programmer, and I got a computer at 11. It was very atypical in the 80s, but I learned that I could be both a girl and a technology enthusiast. These are two things that our culture does not combine all that well.
What has been crucial in your career?
I have seized the opportunities given and always told myself to believe in it. I moved from the Italian fashion house Fendi to the financial sector, and today I am in the IT industry. There have been major shifts and I haven’t been able to do everything from the outset, but I always thought it would be fine in the end. I can shift to a higher gear when challenged.
What have you learned along the way?
I’ve learned to be more patient. I have always had a lot of momentum and opportunities because I have performed in my roles. In financial, engineering and IT companies with a more male-dominated mindset,I had to spend more time proving my worth, and so being impatient was useless.
What career advice would you give?
I always tell young candidates to stand up for themselves. The company must take care of its own interests, and so must employees. Both parties need each other. As women, our perfectionism often hinders us. We need to find the confidence, because we have so much to offer and diversity is a sound business for any company. There can be great support in having a female mentor – especially in a male-dominated business.
Who has been your role model?
Angeligue de Vries, SAP’s former SVP Head of Global Presales and Customer Experience from the Netherlands, was a strong role model for me because she is a modern and authentic leader endowed with power and strength, who managed to remain a woman at the same time. Although her career has grown, she has continued to see the people around her and to be empathetic and present. For SAP as a company, she has been crucial to foster diversity and talent development.
What should women prepare for?
Women are challenged, and sometimes just because they are women. At times, we even have to get ourselves into a suit. I would prefer to avoid that myself, but sometimes it is necessary. Because I have experienced having to prove my worth, I think it is important that we continue to work so that men not only choose men for tough jobs but consider other options, too. In the 12 years that I have been with SAP, a lot has happened because there is a willingness and an understanding of the value that diversity brings. We also have women holding leadership positions today.
How important is the salary for you?
My main driver is not money but making a difference. Even if I lack materialistic goals and regard money differently compared to my male colleagues, I acknowledge my salary because it ensures independence. That means I could stay in my house if I get divorced. It gives me and my sons quality of life in everyday life. And it ensures I can save up to enjoy a good old age.