An interview with Ca’ Foscari alumna Silvia Vianello in Forbes’ Top 100 most successful Italian women in the world

Silvia Vianello is an Italian manager with an outstanding international career that includes significant positions in academia, in private companies and in television. She was recognized by Forbes Italy as one of the Top 100 most successful Italian women in the world, as a leading Digital expert.

She was also one of the “top middle east woman leader” in Dubai where she is the director of the Innovation Lab at the S P Jain School of Global Management, one of the leading business schools in the world.

Silvia Vianello graduated from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice where she then obtained her doctorate. She is still part of the Ca’ Foscari community as a member of the Ca’ Foscari Alumni association. She has been a marketing professor at the Bocconi University (Milan) for more than 10 years, and later a Visiting Professor at Rice University (Houston Texas), at the university of Saint Gallen (Switzerland) and at the ESSEC international business school (Paris), while being a successful entrepreneur: she founded "Reinventami", a consulting company for large and small companies, of which she is the managing director. After leaving Italy for Dubai in 2017 she became the marketing director of Maserati Middle-East, Africa & Asia. She also worked as a television anchor in a show dedicated to new technologies on the Italian channel Sky TV ("Smart&App, la tecnologia che migliora la vita") and published several books including “GreenWebEconomics: la nuova frontiera” and “Startup digitali & PMI innovative. Guida completa al successo di un’impresa innovativa”.

What did you think when you were awarded the top middle east woman leader award in Dubai?

When I was told I had to accept the award I was driving to work - I am the Director of an Innovation Center here in Dubai. At first I thought it was a prank… And then I realized they were not kidding. I was speechless. I started shaking and drove to the event. When I arrived at the ceremony I realized that there were only women coming from Dubai… and myself. And I was the winner. I asked the organizers: why? Why did you choose me? How did you even find me? I was told that the jury had been silently observing each candidate’s outcome and behavior for an entire year and that I had been chosen because of my professional outcome but also because of my daily support on social media - and especially on LinkedIn - as a volunteer to those who are looking for work, #ajobforall.

What does this prize mean to you?

It is an important turning point both for the Middle East for giving such a recognition to a “foreigner” and for society for rewarding altruism rather than careerism. I think that this is a key topic. We live in an extremely self-centered society. We must be willing to give our time to others and to share our knowledge and network to help others and support them in making their dreams come true.
When accepting the award I said: “A true leader creates other leaders. Love what you do and share your passion with others. Great projects can only be built by taking small steps with others”.

Do you think that you have made it in life? What are your goals for the future?

Anyone can make it. Successful people do not necessarily feature outstanding qualities, but they are always extremely driven. I am interested to see what future has in store for me. I cannot wait to start working in a position that may not even exist today. I learn each and every day - I am fascinated by technology, robotic, artificial intelligence, drones, and blockchains… So many things to discover every single day!

How was leaving Italy to live abroad? What was your journey?

I have always lived life to the fullest and dedicated at least an hour a day thinking how I could improve it. I fought to make my dreams come true with an extremely optimistic attitude. My life in Dubai is great. Here you breath innovation - and do not limit yourself to simply talk about it. We can all live life to the fullest, here and anywhere. Before I moved to Dubai I had lived abroad for a few years, working as a professor and a consultant in New York, Houston and Paris - but Italy is still dear to my heart.
I am committed to spreading Italian innovation here in Dubai. I am in Italy every two week as I take part in many events. I am truly free with regards to geography. When I wake up in the morning I never know what to expect, with whom I may create something amazing, or in which country I will talk to spread innovation. I moved to Dubai following an incredible opportunity at Maserati where I used to manage marketing for 24 countries in three continents (Asia, Africa, Oceania). But when I started feeling that I had to accomplish a duty it meant I was no longer having fun and I had to look for something else. That is why I recently decided to work in education again, much more my speed than the automotive industry. I enthusiastically accepted the challenge of becoming the Director of an Innovation Center and teaching at the world respected Australian Business School SPJain Global School of Management.

You can be an inspiration for many women: which pieces of advice would you share with those who are about to enter the labour market?

Any driven person can make it and get a job abroad. People’s temper does make a huge difference. I learnt that without dissatisfaction you lose the most powerful drive you have. It is through tough times that I had the motivation to build great things. Anyone can change, as long as they pursue happiness rather than security, as Freud said. How often do we keep up with a job that does not satisfy us anymore just because we are too afraid to find nothing else? And how often do we stay in a city that has nothing else to offer us? I say to Italian workers who want to embrace new challenges in a city that has so much to offer to come to Dubai for instance. Each day I publish job offers as part of the initiative #ajobforall. You can find me on LinkedIn.
It is also very important to understand that candidates are now selected through software. You must understand how these work in order to be competitive and get picked for a job interview. If you do not hold a degree I would suggest online courses to fill this gap.
Finally I would suggest to travel a lot, an awful lot. The real challenge we face is to become a world citizen. I share my journey throughout the world (70 countries so far) and adventures on Instagram. Anywhere you go you can learn a lot. Never stop learning is the key as well as sharing what you have learnt to make others happy. Do not be afraid to explore.
Start taking the first step. Each and every project started with a first step, a first interview, a first client. Today is the day to take that first step… Break a leg everyone!

LOMBARDO Flavia