A Luiss Business Economics graduate, a career with Procter&Gamble and now President Smoke-Free Products & Chief Consumer Officer – IQOS -at Philip Morris International
What do you remember about your university years and, above all, what did they mean for you?
I remember failing my first exam in Luiss. My brother used to get full marks, while I could only achieve average grades! I will always be grateful to Luiss, because it gave me unexpected opportunities.
Which have been the most significant moments in your professional career?
I have been living abroad since 1999. I spent 22 years in Procter&Gamble, which has been a school of management with transformative powers. When I arrived, as a Luiss student, I had great expectations; when I left, I came out with a wealth of professional and personal experience. I have been living in Geneva since many years, since 2019 I work for Philip Morris International in Lausanne. I deal with IQOS on a global level, working for a smoke-free future, an intriguing mission I am proud of.
You are a sponsor of the Philip Morris International program “Women in Leadership”, which supports all-female projects. What are the advantages of an inclusive environment and, above all, how can a company improve diversity?
I think here the answer is very simple. A management team operates better when it represents the diversity of its consumers – in the broadest sense of the term. “Inclusion&Diversity” is not a HR program: it must be part of the corporate culture, of the core strategy of a business, and it has to involve the whole team. I strongly believe this is a priority which should engage younger people by means of a bottom-up process. Moreover, for a company it is crucial to stimulate and pursue role models that can instill the ambition to become an inspiration.
How did you build your leadership skills?
With a strong commitment to my professional and personal goals. During my career, studying at Luiss and working in big companies has enabled me to gain confidence in my abilities, that is crucial for one’s career. And one needs role models too. For example, I met very professional and high value people. At first, I was lucky, but then I learnt how to choose who to work with, because cooperating with the best can accelerate one’s career path in a company. In addition, from the beginning I held difficult and challenging positions (more that the ‘normal’ ones), and this enabled me to grow disproportionately. Obviously, everyone has their own leadership model that will change over the years.
How do you manage to balance your private and work life?
I strongly believe in the respect of the ‘work-life balance’. I think that working less means working better and, above all, living better. According to my personal experience, observing a pre-arranged timetable in your working day, as well as setting boundaries in your working week helps you to live better and be more satisfied at work.
Virginia Gullotta, Journalist