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Based on the “Appassionate” project – a book about women who transform their own passion into enterprises
My work has always been to find stories that are worth telling and bring them to a wider audience through words. Since 2014, my research has become entirely devoted to stories of women who have been able to transform their passions into enterprises. In a production environment established for centuries and present throughout the world, the two elements – passion and women – represent an interesting novelty and a real opportunity for innovation.
In my work, I have discovered interesting data showing that the viewpoint of women is the frontier of a new and real innovation in the production and business world. In Italy, there are 1,320,000 enterprises run by women, one of the highest numbers in Europe (Unioncamere, 2016), and they have higher longevity, i.e. they fail less frequently than those run by men. Women-run businesses, therefore, guarantee a higher level of job security. But the most interesting fact pertains to the areas in which women are creating their enterprises. Even if the majority fall within traditional sectors of Italian industry, as many as 40% do not belong to any standard category: therefore, women invent new jobs and capture new markets.
One of the examples that form and inform
While developing the material for my work, I have met a number of fascinating women capable not only of generating truly innovative ideas responding to real needs, but also able to realize them and implement them into new businesses. These women look at the world with different eyes – not worse or better, just different. And with that vision, they come up with new solutions.
A few months ago, I met Fabia Gozzo, CEO of Excelsus Structural Solutions, a spin-off company of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). Her company now has two headquarters: in Brussels and at PARK INNOVAARE, an innovation park in Switzerland. For a long time, I had wanted to interview a woman scientist to link my idea of passion with the world of science. The first time I met Fabia, I was fascinated by the happiness in her eyes as she talked about her work and her laboratory. We were in the garden of the Italian Institute of Culture in Brussels, with wine and many people; during the party, she started to explain to me concepts like synchrotron light and polymorphs. Despite my bad grades in high school physics, I understood everything. At that moment, I realized that we were more similar than I had expected: while I use words to enter the core of issues, Fabia uses light.
Continuing the work of Appassionate, I keep seeking the answer to my question: can women do business in a new way by building on themselves? Can women, by investing in their different worldview, create timelier, more reasonable, more humanly sensible enterprises? I found my answer, and in that sense, Fabia's Excelsus experience also confirms that the viewpoint of women is the key to innovation. "I realized how underexploited synchrotron light was in the industrial environments, especially in the pharmaceutical industry. I was certainly not the first, but we can say that I changed the way to use it."
In Italy and around the world, I am looking for examples, not only to emulate but also as stimulating factors for learning to be ourselves. Women-led enterprises, before being economic events, constitute the experience of women in promoting their viewpoint in the world, their own values, their organizational capabilities. The flourishing of women's businesses in Italy and in the world represents an anthropological transformation that is finally allowing women to intervene in the economic, political and social reality surrounding them, a transformation through which the female specificities of caring, loving, really seeing others, courage, patience, ecological conscience, relationships and support reach the world of work and production, transforming it and enabling many sensible and courageous men to adopt them as well, changing the way they work.
An energy that increases by being narrated
In three years, I collected dozens and dozens of powerful stories. The project kept expanding: energy is contagious for those who propose and narrate it, and the examples inspire many others. The Appassionate project originates from a book published in 2014 after I interviewed remarkable women and today there is a website where I continue to report “Appassionate” stories, which are afterwards often published by the Corriere della Sera, Italy’s most prominent newspaper. I travel around Europe as a speaker on Appassionate in different environments, proposing workshops on the theme of “passion and work”.
I strongly believe that if we want to innovate the world, the frontier to cross and the land to discover will be the women’s view of the world.