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I’m Massimo Cassani, and I’m #YOURNOVELISTPRO

This week we are interviewing Massimo Cassani, a well known Italian fiction writer, Journalist, and professor at ‘Bottega di narrazione’, a Creative Writing Academy. founded by Giulio Mozzi. Massimo speaks about his passion for writing and what is his opinion about digital transformation.

Massimo Cassani, writer.
Credits to Dario De Andrea
Massimo Cassani, writer and journalist. Photo credits to Dario De Andrea

Location: Milano, Italy

Current job: writer, journalist and editorial director at “Ambiente&Sicurezza”.

One word that best describes how you work: quick, quick, quicker!

My greatest success: seeing my novels published.

My biggest fear is: disappointing myself

My favourite writer is: there are so many talented writers, I will pick an English one, Jonathan Coe, as my way to thank you for having me on your blog

My life dream: to continue publishing novels one after the other

First of all, tell us something about your background and when your passions for writing started.

I studied classics and then I specialized in journalism. My passion for the written word was born very early, together with my passion for writing. But I only dedicated myself to it when I felt ready enough to do it. My first novel is from 2008; I was forty-two, not really a kid!

How was the transition from being a journalist to a writer?

These are two completely different worlds. As a journalist, I have always tried to develop simple, accessible writing. The journalist’s goal is, first of all, to convey information through the medium of writing. As a writer, however, I have to focus not only on the contents but also on how to evoke emotions, even in the descriptions of the characters and places. We can say that writing novels can and must be played on several levels, and various nuances; by contrast, writing journalism has to be direct, and the more direct, the better.

How did you manage to keep both careers and at the same time, to collaborate with the writing academy ‘Bottega di narrazione‘?

I try to manage all my journalist work over the week and spend my free time working with Bottega di narrazione. It’s not an easy task because free time is so rare, but I believe we all have this problem nowadays. As for writing novels, it’s something that always goes on in my head.

Can you tell us a bit more about ‘Il Commisario Micuzzi’, when and how the character was born? Was the character inspired by someone in your life or does he have anything in common with you?

Il Commissario Micuzzi was born really by chance. An international literary agent asked me if I was available to develop the plot of a kind gentleman – non-writer – who had a good story (a true story) to write. I should have been a ghostwriter. I hadn’t published anything at the time; I had just finished writing a children’s novel with a friend (a novel that has never been published). I was enthusiastic about the proposal and straight away wrote the synopsis for the story which was enriched with other invented characters, including a minor character whom I called “Micuzzi” because in Italy it is an uncommon surname. But my synopsis was rejected, so I cut everything from the plot that wasn’t mine and made this Micuzzi the protagonist of the first novel (“Sottotraccia”). Micuzzi has a fatal distraction, like me: sometimes I go around the house looking for my cell phone and asking myself desperately: “But where will I have put my cell phone?”. Now the series is stopped, I want to write other things. But in the future, we will see..

L’ ultimo ritorno is a different kind of book. Why did you decide to move away from detective stories into another genre?

L’ultimo ritornois a family novel, yes, very different from the previous detective stories. Writing this story, however, I realized that the mystery, the secrets, the double games “live” well even outside the typical genre novels. And in family stories they “live” very well … many families are not the paradise that some want us to believe.

As #NOVELISTPRO, what do you think about the digital transformation? Do you believe it’s a good change or is digital somehow polluting the nature of writing?

Nothing lives forever, but above all, things change. I don’t think the past is better than the present and that the future will be worse than the age we are living. Writing is no exception. Today we write in a completely different way than a century or two ago, and in a century or two, the differences will be just as marked. Let’s not forget that writing is a medium and objects (ink and inkwell, ballpoint pen, typewriter, writing programs …) are just tools to express it. Even in the web age, there are those who know how to express themselves very well and those who seem semi-illiterate. The instrument certainly changes the writing, but I would not speak of “pollution”, I would rather talk of “contamination”. And contaminations are always fertile, in my opinion.

Tell us your trick to have a good work/free time balance in your day. 

I really don’t have one! Unfortunately, there are no fences in my head, and everything gets confused. Sometimes it’s a resource, many other times it’s not. Maybe that’s why I’m so distracted.

Last but not least, tell us three books that you should bring with you on a desert island.

What a difficult question! I prefer not to mention the classics: they would be too many. I choose three novels from the ones I have read recently, and they impressed me:Berta Isla” by Javier Marias, “Waiting for Bojanglesby Olivier Bourdeaut, andWhat Happens at Nightby Peter Cameron.

Now please fill the gap about your five pro tips: 

  1. Your golden rule in writing: let the stories grow inside my head, every moment, not just as I write.
  2. Best place to recharge: there is no specific place, the important thing is to walk, walk, walk.
  3. A movie to watch over and over: Ulysses’ Gaze by Theo Angelopoulos
  4. A game for your brain: I love to imagine possible things.
  5.  A bit of advice for an emerging writer: reading is essential, yes, but reading while trying to understand what are the mechanisms that govern the stories is even more important. Often these mechanisms emerge even in the most unsuspected novels, even in those that are not considered masterpieces.

You can learn more about Massimo Cassani’s book here


I’m Dicky from Morse Toad and I’m a #WORLDCHANGER

This week on the #WORLDCHANGERS series, we speak to Dicky Broadhurst, founder of Morse Toad, a chocolate gifts company that creates personalised chocolate bar messages delivered to your letterbox.

Dicky-Broadhurst-Morse-Toad-scaled
Dicky-Broadhurst-Morse-Toad

Location: We are based in Lymington which benefits from both the beautiful New Forest and the seaside.

Current job: Morse Toad, I am the Chief Everything Officer.

One word that best describes how you work: Happily

My inspiration: My wife

My role model: Anyone who kept going.

My biggest fear: I’m not much of a worrier, to be honest, The only thing I worry about is my family.

My favourite e-commerce: Monster Supplies. They’re winning at the product, tone of voice, sense of humour.

Something I love: A good story.

Something I hate: Complainers.

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you get the idea for personalized chocolate gifts.

Back in 2010, I was made redundant. Rather than find another job, I answered an ad in the paper asking me to cycle to Cape Town and the football World Cup for charity. Five and a half months later, we arrived in Cape Town exhausted but jubilant having crossed deserts, tropical forests and savannahs complete with every sabre-toothed beast you can think of. It was a great experience, made better by raising £10,000 for charity.
Shortly after completing the trip, I received a package. Inside was a few useful items, but there, hidden underneath it all, was a chocolate bar. It transpired that my Mum had sent the package 4 months earlier, but it had missed me at the first checkpoint. It had duly been shipped from country to country in hot (literally) pursuit of the avid cyclists. Saharan sun and tropical heat had not been kind to the chocolate, and by this point, it looked a shadow of its former self. But at that moment, I recognised it for what it was….a gesture of support from mother to son. Via the medium of chocolate, my Mum was saying ‘good luck; you can do it’.
Even in its miserable state, this chocolate packed a massive punch, and this got me thinking. Sometimes it’s those little gestures that make all the difference. In our world of relentless digital messages, a proper gesture, an actual physical thing, can go a long way to making a big impact on someone’s day, or even someone’s life.
And so Morse Toad was born. A messaging service dedicated to making small gestures with a big impact.

Does your chocolate passion come from your childhood?

Whilst I enjoy chocolate as much as the next person, my passion lies around the idea of making other people happy. If the opportunity is there to go a little bit further to make a much bigger difference to someone’s day, then you should take it. Life is short. Why not celebrate every moment? Get the balloons, make a cake, make a fuss of someone. You can’t underestimate the impact that might have.

Have you seen the clients’ behaviour changing on your e-commerce in the last six months?

The last six months have been the craziest ever for my business. We were very fortunate. What do you do when you can’t give someone a hug or a high five in person? You send a hug in the post. And send them we did.
It’s safe to say that, during the lockdown, there was an outpouring of love, positivity and humour that came through our little business. It was nothing short of extraordinary. Lockdown taught us what was important and what to be grateful for, and that is the other people in our lives.

What do you think it’s essential to adjust a business in this unusual time?

As a business owner, you often face challenges that come out of nowhere. Clearly, the pandemic is unprecedented, but behind every cloud is a rainbow. My hope is something positive will come from this tragic and challenging time. If I have adjusted anything during this time, it is to identify what really truly matters, and that is my family.

Where do you see Morse Toad being in the next three years?

We exist to connect people in unique and wonderful ways. We want to help people make the world a happier place, one small gesture at a time. So in three years, we will have created many more exciting ways for people to connect. Chocolate is just the beginning.

Today every business tries to find a way to give back to society, has Morse Toad been involved with a cause or a charity partner?

During the lockdown, we created a gift box specifically for NHS keyworkers. We shipped many hundreds of boxes and got amazing feedback from both the recipients and the senders, who were happy to give some moral support to those at the coal face.
– From an environmental perspective, in a bid to reduce packaging waste, we converted our chocolate box into part of the gift. Now you can add your photo to the top of the box. Once all the chocolates have gone, you can hang the box on the wall from the holes in the back. There’s no need to throw it away. There’s even the option to include a frame.
– We also offset our footprint by contributing to a tree-planting organisation.

Our gifts have the potential to lift the spirits of people in challenging  situations. We are looking for an ongoing charity partner to work with on an ongoing basis.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

I am blessed to live in a beautiful part of the world. Every day I get out and about to enjoy the countryside with my family.

Best advice you would give to an aspiring entrepreneur just starting up their business

Be sure to celebrate every success and brace yourself for a marathon.

If you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently? 

I was so green when I started. I had no clue. If I were to do anything differently, it would be to find someone to help me inhouse. You can’t do it all yourself, and I have wasted so much money over the years paying for external help.

Last but not least, can you suggest the best corporate gift ideas?

Is it cheeky to suggest ourselves? With our corporate gifts, a business can apply their own branding or imagery to the top of the box. Inside, a message made from the best Belgian chocolate. We can send these, including shipping, for £10 each depending on the quantity.
During the lockdown, many businesses sent boxes to all of their staff working from home, and this Christmas represents a great opportunity to send something festive to clients all over the country.

You can follow Morse Toad on Instagram @Morsetoad

We love to interview #WORLDCHANGERS and listen about their challenges and their achievements. We can help you to optimize your Brand Strategy to reach your business goals.


I’m Anne Welsh from Painless Universal and I’m a #WORLDCHANGER

This week on the #WORLDCHANGERS series, we speak to Anne Welsh who, despite being born with sickle cell disease (SCD), transformed her illness into a strength becoming a successful entrepreneur, published author and an international speaker. 

Anne Welsh
Anne Welsh

Current job: Founder and CEO of Painless Universal; Executive Board member for The Business School (formerly Cass).

One word that best describes how you work: Passion

My inspiration: Everyday people making a difference in extraordinary circumstances

My role model: My former boss. He is my role model because he believed in me and gave me strength and motivated me when I was at my lowest point. He inspired me to believe in myself, to be fierce and relentless in everything I did.

My favourite place in the world: Home

A quality you like most in people: Honesty

A food you can’t live without: I enjoy a good doughnut every now and then

First of all, tell us a little about you and how you have transformed your chronic illness into a strength?

The mental and physical effort that was needed to overcome the daily challenge of living with sickle cell disease (SCD) has pushed me to space where I can clearly see my own potential. I have been able to transform a chronic illness into a strength by surrounding myself with people who believed in me and never gave up on me, even at my weakest point. Also, I made a strong mental decision to approach life positively after a trip to Nigeria. It changed my internal thinking from one of feeling self-pity to one of feeling grateful; appreciating that my life is not the worst off and that so many people needed more than I could possibly imagine.

When was the moment you understood you could become a role model for all people struggling with chronic illness?

It started when I joined the Sickle Cell Society UK charity and became its Chairperson for two years. In this role, I heard so many stories of pain and realised my leadership could influence many everyday positive changes for people living with SCD. I really understood that I was becoming a role model for many people struggling with Chronic illness in 2016 when I started being approached for my advice on how to deal with issues of pain by patients and carers. I was also invited to give a large number of talks on these issues. I believe this happened because I have always tried to build on positivity, compassion and empathy by mentoring and reaching out to people with chronic illness through business, my charitable undertakings and with the launch of my book Pain-less.

Tell us about the journey to becoming an Instagram influencer, and how did you build up more than 700K followers? 

This was not an overnight success. I built the number of followers gradually by speaking at events and encouraging people to follow my page. Big strides happened in 2017 when I changed the content focus and simultaneously improved the quality of my posts. The interest really started growing when I began to share stories of places I was visiting, how to deal with pain and my family adventures.

It’s fantastic to see a social media platform used to deliver and share a positive message about pain, do you believe digital transformation can make our life better?

Of course, digital transformation can make life better. Already I am seeing this outcome for the Painless Universal business. On this platform, we use the digital space to share stories of inspiration, hope and how people have found joy along the way. It is a really strong example of how the use of digital technology facilitates the sharing of inspirational stories quickly and to a global audience. Some people will have better lives because of access to this information. 

You have a wide variety of video interviews on your social platforms, how do you choose your guests?

It’s all in the story – how the person being interviewed is able to share and inspire. The story must come from the heart with deep feeling. I read a person’s profile and can immediately tell if they are the right fit. I also do basic research on the person. The method is a very holistic process by which all types of media are researched to match the individual to the right story. I also listen to current events and take suggestions from my team to help choose and appreciate a pain topic of interest to the audience.

Where the idea of founding Painless Universal came from?

It came purely from my book “PAIN-LESS – Living with Pain, Finding Joy”. During the launch of my book, I was speaking to guests at the event and I realised it was not just my story that was important but that of so many other people facing the same challenges as myself. I felt empowered to help others by understanding their pain and helping them find their joy.

Tell us about the journey of writing ‘Pain-less‘ your memoir about living life with sickle cell anaemia?

The journey was long, about five years long. It was long because I started in 2014 and stopped because I didn’t want my life to be out in the public at that time. I just was not comfortable including the negatives as well as the positives in my life. However, in 2018 I just decided to really go for it and get the book completed. My biggest fear of putting everything out there for the world to read was solved after talking to my family and friends and reading lots of positive memoirs form celebrities like Maya Angelou and more. I was no longer ashamed of my story, especially the unpleasant parts of my life brought on by my chronic illness and life circumstance. I felt encouraged to use my story to inspire others which turned into a very transparent life story sharing the journey of success and disappointments, and most importantly how I found joy along the way. I was committed to setting deadlines and working diligently with my publisher so that in the end the publisher delivered the books as promised and the London launch went off smoothly in June 2019.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

I really love what I do and I never want to rest from it! As someone famously said: do what you love and you never have to work a day in your life. Also, I often spend time with my family and my two sisters along with their children, and this really gives me an emotional lift. With so many young children around you don’t have time to think about work. I take a warm bath, exercise and sleeping without a setting a wake up on Sunday’s to ensure I get my rest.

Tell us about a movie you could watch over and over again?

Honestly, it is very had to choose just one film. I will say any movies on the Christmas channel – I can watch those over and over again any time of the year. It just gives me so much joy!!

To finish on a light note, as a fashion icon, who is your favourite designer?

Gianni Versace, for his opulence in life and how he projected that into his fashion experience. As a guest of a corporate event, I was fortunate to visit his Miami Beach mansion after his untimely passing. The detail and beauty of his home captured so much of his fashion personality, and for me, showed why to this day his classical designs live on and influence new generations of designers.

You can follow Anne Welsh on Instagram @ladyannewelsh

We love to interview #WORLDCHANGERS and listen about their challenges and their achievements. We can help you to optimize your Brand Strategy to reach your business goals.


I’m Brita from Women for Women and this is #MYCHARITY

This week on the #MYCHARITY series, we speak to Brita Fernandez Schmidt, Executive Director at Women for Women International – UK, a charity organisation helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives.

Brita- Women for Women charity
Brita- Women for Women charity

Location: London, UK

Current job: Executive Director

One word that best describes how you work: Inspiring

Your biggest success: Raising money to support Yezidi women, survivors of sexual violence after the 2014 Sinjar massacre in Northern Iraq

Your greatest fear:  Allow fear to keep me from pursuing my dreams

Your role model: I don‘t really like the notion of role models. I want us to strive to be our best selves. Instead, I love inspiring women, who inspire me to be my best self. Many of these women are women who have survived conflict and adversity who I have had the honour of meeting through my work at Women for Women International

Your favourite food: Any type of salad with sweet potatoes fries

Your life dream: Inspire women to turn their fears to fierce

 

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

When I was 14, I moved with my family from Germany to Venezuela and I saw poverty and its impact for the first time. I saw how it proportionately affects women and it ignited a passion within me to do what I can to promote equality and support women all over the world to know their power and uncover their potential. I did a MA in Women’s Studies 25 years ago and decided to work in the not for profit sector, as I saw it as the best fit to realise my purpose. For the past 12 years, I have been working with Women for Women International.

And I am excited to say that I have just finished writing my first book, which is a personal book that focuses on what I have learned about finding meaning, owning your power and transforming your world. It is called Fears to Fierce and is coming out in January 2021 and can be pre-ordered here.

Congratulations on your book, now tell us what makes Women for Women International a successful charity?

Women for Women International is a successful organization because it has staff who are experienced professionals and who care deeply, whether that is in the fundraising offices or in the offices in the countries where we operate our programme. Another reason for our success is our commitment to ongoing learning. We are never complacent, we always ask questions, we always want to know what is working and what is not working. We care deeply about the lasting impact of our work and we don’t shy away from changing track and, importantly, we innovate. We have adopted a permanent start-up mentality which has served us well.

How have you adjusted your working day to this special situation?

After three days of despair, once we had gone into lockdown, we decided that we needed to stop imagining every worst-case scenario under the sun and that we needed to start thinking about: WHAT CAN WE DO? Once we did that, everything shifted. That is the power of good questions, as soon as we started to ask this, answers came flooding in and within 5 weeks we had taken our biggest flagship event – our annual car boot sale – online; which in May raised £77,000. So my lessons learned is: pivot fast, focus on what you can do, fail fast, and don‘t wait to be ready.

What is changing in the charity sector in the pandemic era?

I cannot speak for the whole sector, and I think many of the trends we are seeing are true for the wider world – a drive to digital, working from home etc.
One thing I would like to highlight that has struck me is that NOT giving in to despair has been key – bringing new ideas and initiatives even in these times has been vital to our work and much welcomed by our supporters as a sign that there is hope. So that will be very important, for our work and our supporters!

How do you choose business partners to support Women for Women?

It’s all about shared values and vision! Business partners for us become our family. Whether it is Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, Net-A-Porter or Monica Vinader, everyone no matter where within the business buys fully into our partnership and that is at the heart of our successful collaborations.

Tell us about your favourite case history of the most successful partnership.

It’s so hard to choose. Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, is just incredible because of the size of the commitment and impact, with their £1 million pledge they are having an enormous impact in countries like Rwanda, Nigeria and Northern Iraq. But our partnership with Net-A-Porter has also been simply inspiring – not only has it raised a lot of money but it raises such awareness around the whole world, which is invaluable and cannot be quantified.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

I love running, so I do that every morning followed by yoga. And my other way to recharge is to read! I love books and I read all the time.

What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend?

The best question you could possibly ask me! Ok, so I always read several books all at once. Currently, I am reading What we’re told not to talk about by Nimko Ali;   Women don’t owe you pretty by Florence Given,   The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off by Gloria Steinem;  Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad; Recollections of my Nonexistence by Rebecca Solnit.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see…

Faith Mwangi-Powell from Girls Not Brides answer these same questions.

Can you give us the golden rule to achieve your goals?

Shine Bright, Breathe and Let go! #FearsToFierce

 

You can follow WomeforWomen on @womenforwomenuk

 

We love to interview charity’s leaders and listen about their work and their way to create great partnerships. If you want to learn more if the Purpose-Cause match is effective and well-communicated check out how we can help.


I’m Gregory from Sissi Fabulous Food and I’m #YOUREVENTPRO

This week we are interviewing Gregory Schaad-Jackson who together with his mother Sissi have created Sissi Fabulous Food, a London-based boutique catering company that offers cosmopolitan and delicious food cooked with the best ingredients. Gregory explains how Sissi was born and how they have adjusted the business to this unusual time.

Gregory Schaad-Jackson
Gregory Schaad-Jackson

Business description: Event/party catering in and around London, as well as Europe ( Geneve, Saint-Tropez, Vienna, Sotogrande) 

Current job:  Sissi Fabulous Food Executive Chef & Operations Director

One word that best describes how you work Personably

My greatest success in life is Catering the PAD London Art Fair for 10 consecutive years

My biggest fear is bad quality chocolate

My role model is Bill Gates

My favourite movie is The Great Escape

My comfort food is Gianduja

 

First of all, tell us something about you and your business.

We are a family business, with our founder & mother Sissi still very much involved since the inception in 2003, that specialises in private party catering as well as corporate and art events. Victoria, my sister trained with London’s best party planners and joined us in 2015. I joined in 2008 after having trained in London at the Savory Grill with Marcus Wareing and in New York with Gordon Ramsay, having switched from a career in Management Consulting. We like to have a personal relationship with our clients as well as with our staff, and as a result, all invest our heart and soul both into the planning of parties as well as the cooking of the food. We firmly believe that this personal touch differentiates us from many other caterers. Furthermore, as we have lived in many countries and are ourselves Swiss, Austrian and American we can also relate, share common values and understand the tastes of our clients.

Sissi
Sissi Fabulous Food team

 

How did you adjust your business in this unusual time?

We feel it is important to be flexible at all times, and especially now, both in terms of budgets and in what we can offer in terms of products and services. As the restrictions imposed by the government are constantly being increased, clients are no longer able to have large parties. We have therefore launched an online grocery store for our clients, offering many of our most popular traditional dishes as easy to reheat ready meals. We also offer a range of wines and pantry items such as our Great Taste Award-winning Granola. We are adding cocktail mixers and elegant dinner party dishes to this.

We have also launched a Neapolitan style sourdough pizza pop up service as well as a Mobile Espresso Bar for outdoor events such as weddings or private parties, or markets.

For clients who still want to organise a fun and original social event around food, we are offering socially distanced cooking lessons for up to 5 people (6 being the current maximum at the time of writing) in our Clapham atelier followed by a dinner in our tasting room.

Maybe versatile would be a better word than flexible!

How did you manage to keep your existing clients loyal and engage with the new ones with the recent restrictions?

We have always demonstrated a can-do attitude and so have gotten a reputation to make events happen for our clients even if they come up at short notice or if the task seems impossible! As a result, we have some lovely and loyal clients who keep coming back to us over the years. We have been so grateful for these relationships. Since the lockdown, we have been posting cooking videos for inspiration on our social media pages, and are writing regular updates on our newsletter via which we inform our existing clients of our new products and services. We will offer our existing clients a recommendation reward in the form of one of their favourite desserts from our menu.

As #EVENTPRO, what do you think it’s going to be the next big thing in the catering industry?

I would like to say food trucks, but that’s nothing new.. I think maybe dinner party kits, as these have been around but have not taken off.. now with increased connectivity, these kits could be delivered to various guests who then easily prepare the food and they connect with the other guests and hosts to have a virtual dinner party – I am traditionalist though and still love the buzz of a real party taking place under one roof!

Tell us your trick to have a good work/free time balance in your day.

My mother always had an Austrian saying, which was: “do not put off until tomorrow, what can be done today”. As a result, we are a family of night owls and will work late into the night to finish any planning or work so that the following day we have more free time or at least time to react to what the day throws us!

What is your favourite recipe to cook and your secret ingredient?

My favourite recipe to cook is Truffle Linguine (fresh linguine obvs.), in under 5 min and my secret ingredient is tartufata, a wonderful aromatic truffle and mushroom paste we get from one of our specialist suppliers!

Truffle Linguine
Truffle Linguine

 

Now please fill the gap about your five pro tips: 

  1. Your golden rule in the kitchen taste everything & season appropriately 
  2. How to achieve your goals: set goals, plan a strategy, plan a backup, implement it. Then if you fail, take a break, reassess and try to revise the original goal to make it more realistic. It is ok to be 2nd best.
  3. Best place to recharge: Nature/countryside
  4. A sport to keep you fit Vinyasa flow yoga
  5. A game for your brain: flat pack furniture assembly

 

Follow @sissifabulousfood 

At Wegiveit we help businesses to navigate the digital transformation adjusting their Brand Strategy during this unusual time, any questions contact us.

 

I’m Ginevra from Cabbiavoli Estate and I’m #YOURHOSPITALITYPRO

This week on the #YOURPRO series, we speak to Ginevra Puccioni, our #Hospitalitypro. Ginevra is the General Manager of Cabbiavoli Estate, a luxury castle and farmhouse estate located in the Chianti region, one of the most amazing areas in Tuscany, Italy.

Ginevra Puccioni - Cabbiavoli Estate 
Ginevra Puccioni – Cabbiavoli Estate

Business description: luxury castle and farmhouse estate in Tuscany, 30 km from Florence

Current job: Cabbiavoli Estate Founder and Manager

One word that best describes how you work: Relentlessly

My greatest success in life: My family and the launch of Cabbiavoli, with Julia Roberts, the actress and producer, as our first client

My biggest fear: Acrophobia (fear of heights)

My secret wish: Walk the whole Camino de Santiago from London to Compostela

My role model is: my godmother, Wanda Ferragamo, a humble and tireless entrepreneur and matriarch

My favourite book:  Memoirs of HadrianMarguerite Yourcenar

 

First of all, tell us something about you and your business.

As a child, I can recall that one special day in the shadow of the castle when I had my Grandmother all to myself. I still feel the warmth of the sun, the touch of her hand, and the smell of the cut hay in the fields. My memories are feeling safe, happy, and special. So even after having studied gemology and dedicated over ten years in multiple countries, producing, buying, and selling precious and semi-precious stones, when my father asked me to come home to Cabbiavoli, I felt as if I had to say yes. I loved the idea of creating those same memories for others. This is a property that has been in the family for over 150 years. It still has so many stories to tell, and so many emotions to share yet.

Cabbiavoli Estate, Chianti – Tuscany

How did you adjust your business in this unusual time?

Creating a “personal experience” with the property is crucial- and that means listening to what our clients are saying – and what they are not saying.  It’s easy to establish a relationship when they are here with us, so in this period, we strived to establish stronger personal connections with agencies and strengthen our long-distance (direct) relationships with clients. We listened to their hopes and concerns, which prompted us to look for solutions “outside the box.”  For example, rescheduling reservations to 2021 and opening bookings to the local market with extra flexibility on minimum stays and cancellation policies.

How can you engage with your loyal guests and with the new ones?

When clients enter Cabbiavoli, they enter our home and our family, a family with hundreds of years of births, deaths, battles, and arranged marriages; as the Italians would say vita, morte e miracoli (life, death and all the miracles in between). We offer real stories, real info and real photos on social media that share who we are so that our guests are engaging with us before and after their visit to Tuscany.

Wedding table at Cabbiavoli Estate

All guests receive a copy of my book on the family history, as a precious gift to further enhance the bond with the property. It took me a long time to compile it as it includes the history of the property since its original foundation in 1210AD.  Incidentally, some ‘actors’ are visible in the family portraits or buried in the chapel on the grounds, including the family dogs!

As a hospitality pro, what can you suggest to keep this type of business alive?

Being a small business, I am in touch with every client, and this has been our successful recipe since I started the business in 1997. It has been our experience that relationships and reputation matter now more than individual transactions. In the age of ‘immediate gratification’ and self-service, people want to live genuine and personal experiences. Furthermore, when people go on holiday they want to relax, enjoy themselves, and in many cases, they want to know from local experts what to do. Genuine advice from local people beats any travel agent’s ‘package’.

Tell us your trick to have a good work/free time balance in your day.

When not travelling, I work from home; it is important to have clear boundaries between work and personal life. I am an early-bird; before my family wakes up, I walk around London for an hour and a half; I then get my children ready, walk them to the tube, this is our special moment together. I sit at my desk with my third coffee at 9:00 am sharp and start my workday.  When I finish my workday, I dedicate time to the family and only reply to urgent requests.

Tell us how is a typical day of your guests in Cabbiavoli nowadays?

Before customers arrive, I email them a list of activities they can do in the area, including booking services for the main sites to avoid queuing and disappointments.

Customers usually arrive with the expectation to have a packed agenda.  Often, after the first day, once they have experienced the local hospitality, including food and wine, they slow down and reduce the ‘activities’ to the morning, with afternoons spent by the pool and walking around the grounds, before the dinner feasts.

 

Now please fill the gap about your five pro tips: 

  1. Your golden suggestions in this new way of travelling: Travel locally
  2. How to stay positive: Practice gratitude
  3. Best place to recharge: Observe your world with an open mind
  4. A good activity for your health: Early morning walk and an evening glass of wine!
  5. A game for your brain: to switch off –  jigsaw puzzles, to engage – reading a book

 

Follow @cabbiavoli_castle

 

The WeGiveIt #YOURPRO it’s published regularly at WeGiveIt Blog. We can help businesses to optimize their Cause Marketing and their Brand Strategy.

 

I’m Rusi from Rusi Designs and I’m a #WORLDCHANGER

This week on the #WORLDCHANGERS series, we speak to Rusi, founder and designer of Rusi Designs.

Rusi Founder of Rusi Designs 

Location:  London

Current job: Founder and Creative Director Rusi Designs

My greatest success: Seeing the President of Georgia wearing my handbag when she met the President of France and his wife Bridget. 
My role model: Gabriella Hearst
My biggest fear:
People continue consuming throwaway fashion, which will eventually lead to more environmental disasters. 
My life dream:
create a luxury lifestyle brand – Rusi Designs
My favourite website: 
www.net a porter.com 

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

I was born in Tbilisi, Georgia.  Despite studying environmental chemistry at university, I had always wanted to be in fashion, but fashion schools did not really exist in Georgia where, at that time, fashion was not considered to be a profession. Georgians are very much like Italians, they love fashion and looking good is And was very important to them! I made my own clothes, before that my mother made clothes (she was a mathematician but loved to sew!) and my grandmother also made clothes – she was a professional seamstress. Maybe my love of fashion comes from my grandmother? She was a very important person in my life and I am named after her. She told me ever since I was a little girl, I was always gathering fabrics into a sort of pouch and saying it was a bag!  

When I moved to Brussels I enrolled in the Art Academy there and then obtained an Interior Design degree with the Rhodec International UK, but it was not until I joined a five-day handbag making course in London, that I realised how much I loved handbags!  I created my first clutch bag in Bangkok in 2013.  I found this little workshop and I asked the craftsman, Tony, to make me a sample. I sat with him to share everything I knew from my course.  RusiDesigns was born! I never set out to make cheap bags, I wanted quality and longevity in my products. My first clients from my Asian production days are still with me. I offer a lifetime guarantee to make things right if something goes wrong – it seldom does, but for me, the customer’s experience is very important, so I go the extra mile. I moved my production to Italy after 3 years of testing the ground. My current factory makes bags for Chanel and Delvaux. It does not get better than this. I am so proud. 

How does inspiration come about for your creations?

I start thinking about the new design with someone in mind.  I think about their lifestyle and what they do on a day-to-day basis, then I play scenarios in my head and come up with ideas and solutions. Sometimes it’s instant. Sometimes it takes time. But the most important thing is to create something that people will treasure. I believe in longevity and simplicity.  I think the essence of design is simplicity, and simplicity is in good design! 

Today we talk more about sustainability, in what Rusi Designs can be defined sustainable? 

To me, sustainability is quality over quantity. If something is well crafted it will last longer.  If you do not need to replace it after a short time it’s better for the environment! I make small numbers and I do not waste any leathers.  I use every piece of leftover leather to create something useful.  I work with responsible factories where the artisans get paid a fair salary, and I work with local models and photographers so they do not need to travel far thus reducing my carbon footprint.  On a personal level, I reuse and recycle everything I can, and I walk and use public transport wherever possible.  I support the economy in these difficult times by giving people jobs.

Can luxury and sustainability coexist?

Absolutely. Luxury to me means quality and taking responsibility for your actions in environmental terms. Be responsible, waste less, give back, make quality items that last. 

Tell us about a moment when you knew that it was all worth the hard work

Seeing my Mezzaluna tote being worn by the President of Georgia while on an official visit meeting the President of France and his wife. The Georgian President sent me a photo saying “Two Presidents and one bag”. Oh, joy! 

President of Georgia with MezzaLuna Tote from Rusi Designs

What about your cause marketing? Has your company been involved with a cause or charity partner?

Due to my husband’s work as a career diplomat, we lived in Asia for 8 years. While there I worked closely with women’s organisations on charity projects. One of the last projects was a charity fashion show at the British Ambassadors residence in Bangkok, Thailand, with the amazing charity Steps with Theera – they promote equality and independence, by giving employment to adults of all abilities.  It was a very fulfilling experience. 

What is Rusi Designs vision for the next 5 years?

I just want to be able to continue to do what I do best, and grow my brand into a lifestyle brand. 

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

Now that made me smile! I love what I do and I never want to rest from it! As someone famously said: do what you love and you never have to work a day in your life. 

What book are you currently reading?

I listen to podcasts, and my current book is an audiobook on learning Italian. It is never too late to learn. 

What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?

I probably would have started earlier with designing handbags – but better late than never. I believe everything happens for a reason. 

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _____ answer these same questions.

 Gabriella Hearst 

You can follow Rusi Design at @rusidesigns

 

The WeGiveIt #WORLDCHANGERS series asks heroes, experts, and leaders to share their ambitions, routines and more. We love to interview brands with purpose and listen about their work and their way of giving back. We can help you to optimize your Cause Marketing and your Brand Strategy to reach your profitable and ethical goals

 

I’m Laura Winningham from City Harvest and this is #MYCHARITY

This week on the #MYCHARITY series, we speak to Laura Winningham, CEO of City Harvest a charity organisation that puts surplus food to good use in a sustainable way.

Laura Winningham from City Harvest
Laura Winningham from City Harvest

Location: London

Current job: CEO, City Harvest

One word that best describes how you work: Meticulous

Your biggest success: 10 million meals delivered in London, 15,000 tons of greenhouse gases prevented by redistributing surplus food to those in need.       

Your greatest fear: Earthquakes—I’ve been in a few.

Your biggest dream: My children thrive and achieve all they set out to do

Your favourite movie: Fargo

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

I’m originally from New York, where I worked in the world of finance, investing in media and telecom stocks at a private investment partnership.  I have an MBA from Stanford with a focus on entrepreneurship and had a taste for investing with a purpose, having spent time as an analyst at a socially responsible venture capital fund whilst I was a student. After taking time out of the corporate world to raise twins I decided to move in a different direction.  I was aware that in New York and other major cities around the world, there were organisations rescuing fresh surplus food from local businesses that would otherwise go to waste and delivering it to people who needed it most.  I believed that there was a large need in London for this type of organisation.  We estimate that each month in London food for 13.3 million meals is wasted whilst at the same time 9.2 million meals are missed by people living in food poverty. 

Some friends were collecting food from Whole Foods Kensington to help a local church in West London and we decided to test the market, connecting more food businesses and additional charities. We launched City Harvest with an old borrowed refrigerated van and a few early food partners in addition to Whole Foods such as Morrisons, M&S and Charlie Bigham’s.  The rest is history.  We now redistribute more than 100,000 nourishing meals each week to 300 charities in every London borough.

Take us through a recent workday at City Harvest

City Harvest have doubled in size almost overnight to meet the spiralling levels of hunger that are resulting from the Coronavirus crisis.   We’ve delivered almost 1 million meals in the first 6 weeks of the lockdown.  We’ve done this with many of our usual team self-isolating and a skeletal team in the office, operating with social distancing.  So a recent workday has left very little time for sleep. Our partners, many of whom served community meals to large groups of people have changed format and City Harvest has had to adapt to meet their new need to provide food that is best suited for food parcels and home deliveries. At the same time, the food supply chain is in disarray and we’re adapting to changes on that side of our organisation as well. With a need for more food, we need to educate more food businesses about the importance of donating any surplus food.  We’ve needed to train new drivers and get temporary additional warehouse space to stock the growing inventory. 

The entire City Harvest team has been extraordinary and heroic.  I’m so proud of what they’ve achieved.  As one of the founding members of the London Food Alliance, we are working with the Mayor’s office and local boroughs to ensure that all individuals have access to the food that they need during this emergency.

How do you discover new ways to innovate in your working day? 

At City Harvest, we’re always reflecting and evaluating the work we do with the ultimate goal of delivering more nourishing meals to more people.  We are very data-driven and use our real-time information to evaluate the efficiency of our fleet of food rescue vans, the nutritional content of the food we rescue, and many other metrics to ensure we are efficiently using donor funds to better nourish the community.  We have an Impact team that is focused on more qualitative issues.  They are speaking with our charity partners, getting a feel for the need in the community and clarity on whether City Harvest is effectively meeting the need of the thousands of men, women and children who have issues accessing food. We always seek feedback from our partners and are eager to hear the stories of the people that are nourished with food from City Harvest.   We’re always analysing results so we can improve our outcomes.

What is the next big thing in the charity sector?

The immediate focus for most charities will be to find the support needed to survive in a very challenging social and economic climate resulting from the COVID Crisis.  One key will be collaboration- during this crisis, more than ever, I’ve witnessed charities sharing information, ideas, and technology.  The ability to rapidly form partnerships has been important in what is essentially a humanitarian food aid crisis in our own backyard.  There’s a sense that we’ve gone from nourishing our neighbours to working in life and death situations.   Volunteers delivering meals are often the ones to call ambulances to help vulnerable, self -isolating people who have been neglected and malnourished.

How do you choose business partners to support the charity?

Our sustainability goals are aligned with many of the corporate partners with which we work. Our food redistribution work, nourishing people with food that would otherwise go to waste, meets 9 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals such as No Poverty, Zero Hunger and Sustainable Cities.

Many companies want to make a very hyperlocal impact, directly in and around the locations where their employees live and work.  City Harvest operates in all London boroughs and we can give each corporate partner a very clear impact report on how we help vulnerable people in their areas.  Some companies wish to benefit a specific group such as children, refugees, families, women facing domestic violence, the homeless.  City Harvest delivers food to programs that serve almost every vulnerable group.

Companies can send volunteers to help us sort food and deliver to different projects and see the direct impact that they are making.  This is a very inspiring experience.  We have fantastic partnerships with food businesses, which are at the very foundation of what we do and with others who offer financial support and volunteering to keep our vans on the road delivering food. Companies such as William Blair, Artemis Funds, T Rowe Price and foundations such as Citybridge Trust, Portman Foundation, and the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers and the Grocers have been invaluable to our work.  We also benefit from skills-based volunteering, having individuals who are some of the best and brightest in their fields offering us professional services.  All of these partners share our interest and passion-getting great quality, nutritious food to London’s most vulnerable.

Tell us about your favourite case history of the most successful partnership. 

It’s so hard to choose – City Harvest has more than 300 community partners who receive our free food surplus food deliveries each week.  These community meal programs, children’s’ programs, family centres, and elderly drop-in sessions are each doing heroic things that transform lives for the better. Food is a tool they all use to embrace people, bring them in, offer them friendship and other services.  We have several partners who we work with on multiple programs like the Mayor’s Fund  Kitchen Social, which ensures children have activities and nourishment during holiday periods—times when unfortunately many children in London face adversity. Foodcycle has many hubs around London, and City Harvest delivers food to several of these.  I have a special place in my heart for Choir with no Name which brings vulnerable, homeless people together for a weekly choir rehearsal and during the holidays does wonderful performances throughout London.  City Harvest delivers the ingredients that enable more than 80 people to have a wonderful vegetarian meal weekly after theses rehearsals. 

Our partnerships with restaurants, supermarkets, manufacturers, events companies and others make what we do possible.  We look forward to annual events in London which choose to give us really special surplus food donations—Wimbledon, RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and the International Food & Drink Event.  And we value our partnerships with New Covent Garden market and New Spitalfields Market since we focus on fresh nutritious food—35% of the food we deliver is fresh fruit and vegetables.   Supermarkets like Whole Foods and Morrisons have been great supporters and manufacturers of nutritious meals like Charlie Bigham’s have been so important to nourish the community.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

Leading a food redistribution charity during an emergency food aid crisis leaves little time to switch off.  It definitely involves lots of sacrifice on the part of our entire team! I’m sure this is true across all charities. What drives this hard work is a sense of pride in what we all accomplish each day. I read several books each week and because gyms are currently shuttered due to coronavirus risks, I am benefiting from fantastic streaming Pilates classes from my favourite studio (heartcore.co.uk) which I squeeze into my schedule. I have zoom calls with old friends based all over the world and most importantly, find time to laugh—having identified several streaming shows to watch with my husband and twins that offer a complete distraction from the challenging issues in the world today.

What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend?

I usually read an eclectic combination of books at any one time, a mix of fiction and non-fiction, and have a monthly book group (now on zoom!).    I’ve recently read The Feather Thief, The Salt Path, The Dutch House and I’m about to start The Mirror & the Light

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _____ answer these same questions.

I’ve met so many inspiring people in this sector recently, of whom I’d love to ask all these questions! Since City Harvest delivers food to more than 300 community organisations, I’m continually impressed by the individuals I see working so hard to make such a great impact. Louisa Mitchell, West London Zone, Louise Holstein, Mike’s TableMary McGrath, Foodcycle, Dee Woods at Granville Community Centre and Dan Atkins, Buses4 Homeless are just a few of the people who I find very impressive.  We also collect food from hundreds of companies and I meet so many people who are doing impressive things and supporting City Harvest in the process.  Emilie Vanpoperinghe, founder of Oddbox and Ali Warburton founder of POW foods are two who come to mind.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I’m a keen believer in paying it forward. City Harvest has been successful because of the tremendous support of so many different partners and stakeholders and we try and take a very collaborative approach, passing on the goodwill we’ve been so fortunate to receive to others.  Over the years, we’ve been given a tremendous amount of advice from the CEO, Lori Nikkel, of Second Harvest in Toronto.  She responds to every query with incredible speed and with thoughtful responses.   So we are thrilled when people ask City Harvest for guidance on how to start a food rescue organisation and we can pay it forward. We often get calls from other cities and countries and we’re thrilled to share our knowledge and learnings.

You can follow City Harvest on Instagram @cityharvestlondon

The WeGiveIt #MYCHARITY series asks heroes, experts, and leaders to share their ambitions, routines and more and it’s published on WeGiveI Blog.

We love to interview charity’s leaders and listen about their work and their way to create great partnerships. If you want to learn more if the Purpose-Cause match is effective and well-communicated check out how we can help.


I’m Elizabeth Rees from ElizaEliza and I’m a #WORLDCHANGER

This week on the #WORLDCHANGERS series, we speak to Elizabeth Rees founder and designer of ElizaEliza that creates the perfect zip purse to #carryyourcause.

Elizabeth Rees_ Eliza Eliza
Elizabeth Rees_ Eliza Eliza #carryyourcause

Location: Cardiff, Wales

Current job: Full-time Mum, Founder of Eliza Eliza

One word that best describes how you work: Analytically

Current mobile device: iPhone XS Max

Favourite website: BBC News

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

Before becoming a mother, I taught as a Secondary Geography Teacher and never really went back. Taking a step back to have children, made me realise that teaching wasn’t something I felt truly passionate about. Whilst I was on maternity leave, I rediscovered my love of sewing. I made a zipped pouch to organise my changing bag better and my family and friends started asking me to make these pouches for them too. Before long I was selling via Etsy and not long after, set up my website. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had so much support along the way, featured by magazines such as Stylist and In the Moment magazines as well as being shared by influencers such as Gillian Anderson. All this has helped me get to spread my message and mission of building awareness all over the world, for the causes we care for.

How can you define Eliza Eliza ethical/sustainable?

In my mind, every business should without question be ethical/sustainable. Unfortunately so many are not. The choices of who makes the materials and products we use and what they are made of should not, in my opinion, be at the detriment of someone else’s health, wellbeing or wealth. I have worked hard over the years since starting Eliza Eliza to educate, research and carefully source the materials I use. Getting to know my suppliers and not being afraid to ask questions. For example, I spent quite a bit of time, particularly early on in my business, speaking to the hemp producers I use. They are undoubtedly passionate about what they do and taught me so much about hemp’s eco-friendly advantages compared with other textile choices. Environmentally friendly and non-exploitative textile production is central to their business model, these are the businesses I want to work with now and in the future.

What motivates you?

My children motivate me. I want them to grow up understanding the importance of kindness, looking after each other and that giving back can be just as rewarding as receiving. I hope that my business shows them in just a little way how this can be done.

Tell us about a moment when you knew that it was all worth the hard work.

The first time I sent a donation to my charity was the best feeling. It wasn’t even a huge amount, but the fact that I could contribute from something I had I made and someone else had chosen to purchase was incredibly rewarding.

Worlchanger cluch_ ElizaEliza
Worlchanger cluch_ ElizaEliza

How does Eliza Eliza get involved with a cause or charity partner?

Sometimes it’s the cause that comes first and I research to find relevant charities to support it and other times it’s the charity that I initially discovered. But they have to work together appropriately. In some instances, I launch without a charity because it can be just as important to raise awareness around the cause as raising money. When I contact the charity, I explain what I do and we agree on a partnership agreement.

Elizabeth Rees_ Eliza Eliza
Elizabeth Rees_ Eliza Eliza #carryyourcause

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

Yoga, meditating, going for a run or walk always help me recharge. I do so much of my work through my phone, that switching it off every once in a while help give me a break and allow me to focus attention elsewhere.

What book are you currently reading?

Borrow Box allows you to digitally borrow e-books and e-audiobooks from your local library. I’ve been listening to The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor which discusses how happiness and positivity can contribute to successful futures. I’d definitely recommend it.

What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?

Without sounding too cliché it really is the journey that counts. I love to think that I could have forgone the stresses of training and being a teacher, but there are so many lessons and skills I learnt from that time.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _____ answer these same questions.

Kate Auguste from Mi Apparel

 

You can follow Eliza Eliza at  @elizaelizauk

 

The WeGiveIt #WORLDCHANGERS series asks heroes, experts, and leaders to share their ambitions, routines and more.

We love to interview brands with purpose and listen about their work and their way of giving back. We can help businesses to optimize their Cause Marketing and their Brand Strategy.

 

I’m Susana Prudêncio from Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and this is #MYCHARITY

This week on the #MYCHARITY series, we speak to Susana Prudêncio, from Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Susana Prudêncio, Deputy Director Marketing & Digital Transformation, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Susana Prudêncio, Deputy Director Marketing & Digital Transformation, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Location: Lisbon

Current job: Deputy Director of Marketing and Digital Transformation at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

One word that best describes how you work: Positivity, I always believe it is possible

My greatest success: two innovative projects that I helped to create more than 20 years ago, that are still in use today, and I am very proud of: the creation of a concept for the stores of the National Museums in Portugal and the Project «Um Mecenas um Museu» (A patron a museum).

My biggest fear: An empty house

My secret wish: Take the Orient Express or live in Amalfi for a season

My role model: My mother. A wonderful human being.

My favourite website: Barbican 

 

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

My career started at the National Gallery in Washington where I had the chance to learn from the best and to see how a big museum is managed. Then I moved back to Portugal and I worked at several cultural institutions such as the National Museums Institute, the Serralves Foundation in Oporto and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, where I’ve been working for 13 years. My work experience has always been very dynamic and encompasses different areas such as corporate partnerships, brand/design and communication activities or the creation of unique experiences in the world of arts for regular visitors and business customers.

Can you explain what is Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation?

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is a wonderful cultural and philanthropic institution. Its founder, Calouste Gulbenkian, was a very wealthy businessman and art collector, whose concern about the fate of his art collection during World War II motivated his desire to move to the United States. Fortunately, he stopped in Lisbon on his way and changed his mind. He spent the last years of his life in Portugal and decided to create, by will, a foundation to which he would bequeath his fortune and art collection.

The Foundation aims to improve people’s lives through art, education, science and charity. In addition to the headquarters in Lisbon, it also has delegations in London and Paris, places where Gulbenkian lived.

What does it mean for you Digital Transformation?

I see Digital Transformation as our full adaptation to the technology-based world where we are living today. From storage to equipment, from productivity tools to digital campaigns, the digital transformation affects both internal processes, namely the working environment, but also external processes, such as communicating to our audiences.

In which way is Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is embracing the digital revolution?

The high level of digital preparation of our organization has radically changed in the last years and has been proved to be especially important during this pandemic. It has allowed us to keep our daily work in the safety of our houses, without significant disruption.

We have developed a strategy related with the development of platforms and digital contents that allowed us to keep connected with our audiences by providing relevant and up to date content;  live-stream concerts, conferences, guided tours, conversations with curators at home, challenges on social networks, among many other actions. Art is useful and it is revealing its importance in people’s lives right now. Have you noticed the number of people sharing works of art and experiences with works of art lately?

How do you discover new ways to innovate in your working day? 

I try to be up to date by following the work of cultural institutions of reference, I am “connected” and attentive to new trends. In our team, we have very young people that keep challenging me.

Can you tell us a key lesson you have learned along the way

Observe, listen to others, listen to the heart and common sense.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

I am a big fan of walking, I love to sunbath and swim in the ocean.

What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?

I don’t have time for regrets ?. I am always focused on the present moment and future achievements.

Finally, as Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has an incredible art collection, which one is a breathtaking piece that people can’t miss?

It is extremely hard to highlight one piece of art in such an extensive collection, which goes from ancient Egypt to the 20th century. I like many of the artistic periods covered and its major artists like Rembrandt, or Turner. Nevertheless, if I had to choose, I would probably follow my emotions and pick the Francesco Guardi room. I already liked this room before working at the Foundation. For me, it is a magical place, with a considerable number of paintings illustrating the 18thcentury Venice. The paintings portray the beauty of the city, from the Grand Canal to Giudecca. The most glamorous it is the one that depicts the Feast of the Ascension in St Mark’s Square.

'Feast of the Ascension in St Mark’s Square' - Francesco Guardi, 1775 - Calouste Gulbenkian Museum,  Lisboa, Portugal
‘Feast of the Ascension in St Mark’s Square’ – Francesco Guardi, 1775 – Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisboa, Portugal

The light, the ambience, the movement, the dresses, everything entice us and take us to that place. I close my eyes and I am momentarily transported to the arcade of the Florian café, having some wine and laughing with loved ones. This room makes me happy! Isn’t that the good thing that art gives us?

 

You can follow the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation on Instagram at fcgulbenkian

 

The WeGiveIt #MYCHARITY series asks heroes, experts, and leaders to share their ambitions, routines and more and it’s published on WeGiveI Blog.