Can you tell us a bit about your role?
My role is Head of Marketing and Communication in BNP Paribas Real Estate Italy which means I’m in charge of external communication, marketing, the digitalisation of the company, internal communication and the development of our CSR strategy. I manage a small team of three people. This mean I work with all of the business lines which present in Italy (Investment Management, Advisory, Property Management and Property Development).
Why did you chose a career in the real estate sector and specifically working for BNP Paribas Real Estate?
It’s a sector I particularly like as both my father and grandfather worked within real estate but one that I ended up in more serendipitously than consciously.
Can you tell us about your career path?
I started my career as Product Manager for different multinational companies in FMCG.
My last experience was the creation and management of the Italian branch of a communication agency for a period of nine years in Milan. When a large French real estate firm moved to Italy, they asked this agency to help assist them with their marketing and communication strategy. I was in charge of this project, so focused solely on real estate in this role and discovered how much I enjoy working within this industry. Back in 2009 the Italian real estate sector, in terms of marketing and communication, wasn’t that well-structured, so it was a chance to inject professionalism into it.
Whilst I really enjoyed and gained a lot from running an agency, I find myself more suited to working closely with a wider team and benefit from the dynamics of a bigger company.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Being able to run the marketing and communication strategy in a consistent and coherent way. It’s about convincing my colleagues about the added value of our department and guiding them in the right direction in order to optimise results. Our efforts are not always measurable, but the addition of many actions will surely lead to our communication objectives.
What is the most rewarding?
I have many elements to my role and what’s great is that each is recognised by those I work with. When working with different teams, I am able to give them a new perspective and fresh approach to their projects, which adds real value to what they’re doing.
What has been the most important thing you’ve learnt whilst working at BNP Paribas Real Estate?
When I arrived in March 2018, I met all of the directors and key people within the company, across a range of hierarchical levels. I think by talking to people one to one and understanding their needs you realise what can be improved. Listening to people is something really important that I’ve learnt, whatever the size of the company. From taking the time to listen and understand their needs I was able to create the first internal newsletter, a tool which many people have since told me they really appreciated. I have also understood that the impact of an initiative is strongly linked to the commitment of the Top Management
What are you most proud of achieving in your career?
I’m proud of having achieved everything on my own. I left France after I graduated and moved to Vietnam where I arrived with a backpack and CV in hand. This was a great start to my career and in my life because it gave me the confidence to know that I will always be able to find a solution in any given situation and use my own abilities to succeed in what I want to do. This has been something which I’ve done throughout my career, for example in Milan when I set up the communication agency, I didn’t think I was necessarily suited to this kind of entrepreneurial role but I managed to carry it out successfully. So to sum up, I feel proud of the fact that I’ve been able to reach my goals alone. Another achievement to be proud of is the fact that I have trained freshly graduated young professionals with success, and that they have had great career paths. Transmission of knowledge is crucial to the job satisfaction.
What advice would you give to a woman looking to start a career similar to yours?
I think women can sometimes lack confidence and therefore don’t dare to put themselves forward professionally. When I was managing the agency in Milan, I ended up employing more women than men, and they were so conscientious and brave but sometimes didn’t feel confident enough to express themselves. I would therefore advise them to have conviction with their ideas and don’t be afraid to put themselves forward.
I know that for me, having three children has meant making sacrifices and on occasion, putting my career in front of them. I do believe, however that they are proud of me and what I’ve achieved in my career. With women still expected to carry out the majority of the child care and house-keeping, I think it’s important to find the right work-life balance. Having a career means being independent, and I do consider it fundamental for a woman. I hope my daughter will be conscious of it when growing up!
I’ve never found that being a woman has meant there being any more obstacles in my career path. During my education in Paris, I was always taught to feel equal to men. I’ve always felt that if I’m here, I’m here for a reason and that’s because I deserve it.
It’s true that I’ve worked in a number of male dominated environments; a beer company in Vietnam and now in real estate, which tends to be made up of more men than women. I have however, never felt that I was in the wrong place.
Which powerful women do you most admire?
Three years ago I did some voluntary work in Milan in a restaurant aimed at providing diner for €1. The women that came were mostly immigrants, homeless and the sole parent for three or four children. I realised that these women were the ones that I admired the most. I have been very lucky to have grown up in a privileged environment, with access to education but these women struggle everyday just to feed their children. So whilst it may not respond to the question in terms of power through celebrity, to me they are incredibly powerful.
How do you think you’ve got to where you are today?
In my life I’ve lived in a number of countries; France, Vietnam, Belgium, England and now Italy. In each of these places, I’ve been keen to integrate myself into the culture and take on new challenges and roles, like learning the language. I think through being open-minded and curious I’ve been able to integrate myself into a range of situations and learn how to develop personally and professionally.
What does success mean to you?
At 48 years old, success has nothing to do with money or position, it’s more the recognition of the work I’m doing. To feel that I’ve given the most I could give to reach a certain goal. Whilst I could, and have in my life, failed at certain things, as long as I feel that I’ve done as much as I could, then I feel that it’s been a success. I have only moved recently to BNP Paribas Real Estate but I’m glad of another challenge, and to keep pushing myself professionally and learning new things. I’m sharing with you this quote of Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it’s the courage to continue that counts.”