November 2016 – The 2016 International Conference of the international European Women Management Development (EWMD) in Bardolino, Italy, was a huge success. The event covered the diverse activities surrounding female empowerment spanning over the 32 years of EWMD existence. Representing the past activities yet focussed on future successes, Gay Haskins, one of the founding members, was awarded the “She made a difference” award for her outstanding engagement for women. Ten top female speakers presented their impressions on very diverse aspects of what a digital future could be.
About 80 female managers were part of a journey exploring four main areas: Health and Sciences, Revolution 4.0: IOT, Robots & Industry, Culture & Circular Economy and Social & City. Each area was represented by short presentations by top female speakers. The presentations and the interactive workshops in the afternoon left room for intensive and partly controversial discussions.
How to master future challenges
Should certain jobs be totally replaced by robots, even when “people don’t trust robots”, as 29-year-old speaker Chiara Amore puts it. With a Masters in Physics, she is working as an analyst with a company specialized in logistics and automated solutions in Italy. Her statement that “the goal of automation is to improve the quality of jobs” produced a lively discussion in the audience.
Alessandra Bonezzi, Cultural Anthropologist and Master of Human Rights pointed out the difference between multiculturalism and interculturalism. Alessandra explained that multiculturalism means to tolerate, as a decision of society and not necessarily as a decision of the individual, interculturalism refers to an individual’s decision to create a diverse surrounding. As of Alessandra’s findings interculturalism is the much better solution for innovation, cooperation, balance and development.
Health and Sciences was, amongst others, represented by Adriana Albini, Director of the Vascular Biology and Angiogenesis Laboratory (IRCCS). She gave insights on Biomedical research and women in science. Adriana was followed by Marina Pizzi, a Full Professor of Pharmacology at the Medical School of the University of Brescia, who presented “New frontiers in Neuroscience: the Environment Shaping the Brain”. In addition to Chiara Amore, other experts in “Revolution 4.0” included Claudia Canali, Researcher in Computer Science at the Department of Engineering, University of Modena, Reggio Emilia, with her question “Are we ready for the Internet of Things” and Stefania Zuccolotto, who is a member of the board of Young Entrepreneurs of National Confindustria. Stefania gave impressions on the role of young entrepreneurs in integrating traditional economy with digital economy.
Maria Luisa Venuta who is an economist and expert in Circular Economy described the challenges of this topic for a new future. Barbara Vecchi, Founder of Hopenly, also speaker in the area of “Culture & Circular Economy”, explained how Data Science can be a new way to satisfy human curiosity. Brief insights about how our cities will be smarter, but still need a social aspect, were given by Nadia Busato and Ilaria Fornasini. Nadia is a consultant, journalist and smart city designer. Ilaria, Ph.D. Digital Strategist, talked about future chain reactions from today’s social networks to tomorrows society.
At the end of the conference there was a broad consensus among the participants, that the event gave a very good view, on how the current changes in society, based mainly on technological developments, will have an impact on the way of living together in the future. Once again, EWMD has demonstrated the ability to have a finger on the pulse of time with relevant topics, state-of-the-art formats and highly ambitions members eager to make a difference in the world.
Interview with Gay Haskins, founding member of EWMD
What experience was crucial for you to become a founding member of EWMD?
There was no special experience. I had personally benefitted in my life from a number of persons pushing me forward; often male colleagues. They said, “You can do it.” Not all women are lucky enough to be encouraged to achieve as I was. When I was working at the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) in Brussels in 1984, some of our business school and corporate members started to say that we should organise an event focussed on women’s management development. Because of the encouragement that I had received myself, I was enthusiastic about the idea. As a result, 106 amazing women gathered on a wintry day in a rather old fashioned conference room and committed themselves to the formation of the European Women’s Management Development Network (EWMD).
How did your engagement with EWMD help you in your personal career?
It simply gave me a network of friends. It helped to share experiences with other women and if I look back and see what a lot of women I met in the network achieved in their careers, I’m impressed. And it is a great benefit that the network is international.
What is your personal vision for EWMD in the future?
I think it should develop further as an international network, staying focused on Europe. It is important to show the diversity of Europe. And I think that all of the wonderful women of EWMD should use the opportunity to make the network more visible and known.
Since founding EWMD – do you think the world of women has changed in business?
The situation of women improved, but there is still a long way to go. In one way it is invigorating, because it means we’ve got a lot to work for. The important thing is, that women should have the opportunity to do what they like and what will help them to build a better world.
What do you feel when attending an EWMD event like this conference and get awarded?
I feel humble, because I think the award should have gone not only to me but to everybody who was there at the beginning. And I’m very happy that the network is still going. Some things didn’t change - it is still enthusiastic, it is still noisy, it is still excited. And I feel a little bit proud. When looking at the award certificate I put on my wall, I will think “yes I did that”. And I’m also pleased that there is a diversity of ages in the network.
Gay, thank you for this interview.