A special interview for Women’s day, with Chiara Garavaglia – Partner at Tefen Italy. With more than twenty years of
Strategy Management experience, Chiara showed the determination of a Leader in the tough world of consultancy, but mostly of a woman. Putting aside gender distrust, she has been able to combine a great professional career with marriage and motherhood.
What is your background?
After I graduated from Bocconi University in Milan with a degree in Political Economics, I started working in a couple of US multinational companies. I was a product manager at Whirlpool at the European headquarters, while later I worked as a controller at Hermann Miller.
But even though they were multinational companies, I was looking for a more challenging environment. So twenty years ago I applied to the Gemini Management Consultant Group and started my career in consulting. Since then I’ve always had the opportunity to work in the Life Science industry, with a strong focus on the Patient Care.
What do you like the most and the least about your consultant life?
I love the fact that as a consultant I can be creative, a value that Tefen had allowed me to nourish. Here I have no boundaries to my creativity, and I have the freedom and flexibility of thought to craft new solutions.
How is it to be both a mother and a partner at Tefen?
I think there are no differences compared to what other working mothers do – every woman today has to juggle between work and motherhood. Fortunately, women can now work and have the possibility to rely on their husbands, who also contribute to the family in-house management. I think that this is the future that awaits our daughters. This is not so trivial in Italy, but our men are starting to be more and more present in the home chores.
Conciliate work and family, to me, has been a matter of organization and cross-fertilization. Personally, I apply tools and processes I use at my work to my private life. I have also learned from my three children and my husband some lessons about patience and negotiation, which I apply to my job and my profession.
Being a woman, does that affect your professional life?
No, because I think that every time there was a situation in which somebody tried or could try to use the fact that I’m a woman against me, I didn’t let them continue with it. I have always managed to show that they couldn’t ignore my thoughts, capabilities and influence. To me, it’s a matter of not being afraid to be a woman in our professional world, and to ask for respect.
Would you suggest a consulting career to women?
Absolutely yes. I think that women know that the fact that we are treated differently is not normal. Being a partner gives me the privilege and the freedom to choose the clients and colleagues I want to work with, the ones who respect me as a human being. I also treat my co-workers equally, no matter if they are women or men.
When I go to meetings in Italy or around Europe I’m often the only woman in the meeting. That’s strange to me. But the men around the table respect me, and I have the feeling that they listen to me also because I represent a different point of view. Nevertheless, I hope this is just a part of the evolution.
Tell us about your most memorable/engaging project.
I can’t think of a project that was not interesting to me. It’s like choosing your favorite child. I love everything I do.
What are your activities outside of work?
Staying with my children, husband and family. I also have a couple of free hours on Saturday, in which I take care of myself. The rest of the time is for the others: my family and my friends.
What or who is the biggest source of influence in your life?
My father. The first part of my life wasn’t so lucky, unlike now. And I’ve learned from my parents how to react to bad circumstances in life. My father still has his influence on me – he reminds me that in any case, for better or for worse, the times in which we can think of are better than other times in our past or history and that we are living in the luckiest corner of the earth.