• Leaders First

An evening in Rome dedicated to female leadership

This year Leaders First conference & networking event in Rome, on 18 November 2019, was dedicated to female leadership. The topic Women First is familiar to our members in London and Milan, it creates a platform for female leaders to share their decades of combined experiences with our selected audience. 

Taking place in a 5-star hotel, next to Pantheon, the event gathered over 90 guests of Leaders First from Rome, London and Milan including Members and Ambassadors.

The uniqueness of Women First in Rome was a variety of outstanding female speakers representing Italy, UK, Cyprus, Israel and South Africa. This truly international group of women leaders were invited to speak by Leaders First in partnership with BLU Family Office and Cafiero Pezzali Studio Legale.

The event started with a key message from Jill Morris CMG, Her Majesty's Ambassador to Italy and Republic of San Marino:

Jill Morris CMG, Her Majesty's Ambassador to Italy

“Since arriving in Italy as the first female British Ambassador in 2016, I have made it a personal priority to focus on female leaders across sectors. I have hosted events celebrating and bringing together fantastic women working in a wide range of areas where women are often less well represented: Women in Finance, Defence and Security, Engineering, Politics, Law Enforcement, and Technology.”

The evening featured two insightful panels “Women Leaders in Italy” and “International Female Leaders”.

Alessandra Calabrò, Owner at Studio Legale Calabrò

Luisa Todini, Owner and Chair of the Holding Company Todini Finanziaria Spa, and Michaela Castelli, Chairperson of Acea, took part in the first lively panel discussion, facilitated by Alessandra Calabrò, Owner at Studio Legale Calabrò and award finalist for Top Legal 2019 Italy.

Michaela Castelli, Chairperson of Acea

Michaela highlighted the importance of starting a professional journey early and with the support of the right people, working hard and being able to come out of a comfort zone. The other key element for success as a leader, for Michaela, was looking into the future. This can be achieved by companies implementing policies for smart and flexible working.

Luisa, being involved in different businesses from Construction, Hospitality to Renewable Energy, shared how it is urgent to lead companies with a strong concept of diversity. When it comes to soft-skills and multitasking, for Luisa being a woman is actually a soft-skill, and also the ability to get involved in different working experiences. She also mentioned the importance of managing a public company in a more entrepreneurial way, with its board acting as an entrepreneur trying to maximise the profit in order to increase the re-investments for growth.

Luisa Todini, Owner and Chair of Todini Finanziaria Spa

After sharing their words of wisdom and expertise, the panel interview followed by an engaging Q&A session, and included questions from Janus Asset Management, IFI Consulting and other participants.

Doris Sommavilla, Partner at BLU Family Office

To chair the next panel of “International Female Leaders” we invited Doris Sommavilla, Partner at BLU Family Office and 3rd generation member of a family business. Her guests on this very dynamic panel were Rotem Hochma, Managing Director & COO of a Single Family Office and  Alexandra Lund, Founder & CEO, Core Values Consulting; MD, #1MillionChildren Initiative.

Rotem Hochma, Managing Director & COO of a Single Family Office

First to share the evolution of her professional growth was Rotem, who is based in Israel. Her strong focus on education since a young age helped to develop an ability to be ready to manage situations far out of comfort zones. Her advice was to be ready to fail, eliminate fear by going through failure as an experience, as this is a spirit of start-ups which should not be taken as a weakness.

Alexandra Lund, Founder & CEO, Core Values Consulting

Alexandra Lund, who speaks 11 languages, has emphasised on the role of communication and the ability to listen, the soft skills which every leader should develop. Some other takeaways from Alexandra’s talk were: the importance of establishing trust for building long-term relationships, the role of teamwork and the critical role of education, the ability to learn fast.

She also encourages people to stay humble in taking a step back to understand success.

Alexandra Lund, Rotem Hochma and Doris Sommavilla
Dominik von Eynern, Principal at BLU Family Office

The active talk between three international accomplished speakers, with plenty of practical tips and advice, was later transformed into a Q&A forum, with guests from Forbes, GBBH Strategies and BLU bringing some crucial topics to discuss. 

Swati Mandela, Founding Partner at Qunu Workforce, Founder of Swati by Roi Kaskara

We all were inspired by the next talk with Swati Mandela, curated by Fabrizio Nicolosi. Swati, who blew us away with accounts of her journey in business and stories from her influential family, shared the impact both her grandmother and grandfather Nelson Mandela made on her own journey as an entrepreneur and philanthropist.

She continued by highlighting the importance of treating others as equals and for leaders to be accessible by implementing an 'open-door' policy. Having a mentor for entrepreneurs is another topic which Swati covered, and her role in helping to develop equal opportunities and mentorship in her own country, after facing herself some difficulties in getting access to guidance and support from mentors.

The talk with Swati Mandela then moved on to an equally interesting Q&A session from the audience, which included Italian MP office representatives and others.

Paola Pezzali, Founding Partner at Cafiero Pezzali Studio Legale

At the end of all female leaders talks, Paola Pezzali from Cafiero Pezzali Studio Legale, presented her studio and their vision, their competence in civil and labour law. She strongly highlighted the importance for every leader to develop the ability to see the changes, to adapt to it and to develop their own vision.

Fabrizio Nicolosi, Founder of Leaders First

We thank our inspiring speakers, who contributed to the success of Women First event in Rome. We also would like to express our gratitude to our Members and Ambassadors in Rome, Milan and London for their continued support and contribution to the growth of Leaders First in Italy and other countries.

Leaders First will continue bringing transformational learning experiences combined with business networking to the Italian capital. This allows us to create trusted connections and grow our community of members who are always interested in professional growth and success. If you would like to find out about the benefits of becoming a member please contact us at

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