Interviewed by Hanna Müller
Meet Cecilia Mazzocchi is Deputy General Counsel at Capgemini and the participant of our Women Talent Pool Leadership Programme. In the interview, she discusses making career success a reality, how to bounce back from failures and the impact of having inspiring mentors around you.
You have been Deputy General Counsel at Capgemini Italy for more than 10 years now. What does your day-to-day work look like? Were there any key factors which led to you getting to where you are today?
At Capgemini Italy, we are a small legal team of four people. I work mainly with the financial services market units - banks and insurance companies - and with what we call the CPRD market unit which refers to consumer products, retail, and distribution. As you can imagine, this business is crucial in Italy since we deal heavily with fashion, food and beverage companies.
It was my passion for work that led me to where I am today. I fear neither hard work nor pressure, even in tough situations. I keep a cool head, try to keep in control and maintain team spirit.
Can you tell us about your career path; how did each role lead you towards your current position? And did you plan your career strategically?
Since the beginning of my career, I have worked for Capgemini twice. The firsttime was just after I graduated. It was a very exciting moment because we were in the middle of the integration process after the acquisition of Ernst & Young.
After I passed my bar exam, I decided to work in a law firm to experience a new profession and role. I nevertheless stayed in touch with my former boss from Capgemini and I also kept working with them as an external consultant. I think that every lawyer should have experiences both as in-house and in a legal firm, because it gives you a wider picture and allows you to choose properly what fits you better.
In fact, after some years at the law firm I came back to Capgemini as I was fascinated by the process of following a deal from A to Z, in all its phases and from all angles, not only legal but also from a delivery and business perspective. I cannot say that I really planned my career strategically, I just tried different approaches and followed my interests. In my opinion, being passionate is the best way to achieve career goals.
I cannot say I really planned my career strategically,
I just tried different approaches and followed my interests.
Being passionate is the best way to achieve career goals.
Gender diversity is a critical priority for Capgemini. What are some of the company’s initiatives to provide equal growth opportunities and favourable working conditions for all employees?
In our case, gender diversity works the other way around, since we are an all-female team. Still,I would like to share my personal story. The second time I joined Capgemini, I found out I was pregnant. We had not signed the contract yet and I expected some difficulties in formalising the employment because of my pregnancy. Quite on the contrary, Capgemini was afraid I would not want to join them anymore!
Having three children has not prevented me from continuing my professional path. On the one hand, companies must create equal opportunities for all, but on the other hand, employees must organise themselves adequately to be able to do their job. I wish we heard women saying less often, “I had to choose children or work”. Both the employer and the government must provide all necessary tools and support to allow women to do both.
I wish we heard women saying less often,
“I had to choose children or work”.
Both the employer and the government
must provide all necessary tools and
support to allow women to do both.
Who or what inspired you in your career path to get to where you are today and who are your current role models? Should every aspiring leader have a mentor?
It is important to have a mentor, because even in a leading position the exchange with competent people allows you to see things from a different perspective and to change your mind. All my bosses have been an inspiration to me and have always pushed me to do my best. Beyond that, I am absolutely fascinated by the women I have met during the Women Talent Pool Programme, especially my mentor, Magdalena Hauptman. They are a real source of inspiration for me.
It is important to have a mentor,
because even in a leading position
the exchange with competent people
allows you to see things from
a different perspective
and to change your mind.
Sometimes things just do not work out the way we want them to. What have you learned from those times in your career when things have not gone as you hoped or expected?
This is not new: we are going through tough times. We must cope with a heavy workload and cannot commit our time for trainings or networking, at least not to the extent we would like to. What I do is to try and simplify complex situations. A certain amount of pressure is important to stay motivated and productive, but too much can lead to stress. I break down each project into small assignments: in this way, I understand if I can timely manage all the projects or if I need additional resources to complete the work. I am convinced that every failure, if processed, leads to professional growth. I have always learned a lot from my mistakes. This is a good method to deal with professional failures, to understand what one has done wrong and how to react in a positive way.
I am convinced that every failure,
if processed, leads to professional growth.
I have always learned a lot from my mistakes.
What advice would you give your younger self or other aspiring female leaders?
Do the things you like, do them with passion, study, challenge yourself. Don't be lazy. Decide where you want to go and create the necessary path to pursue your goals, and above all, do not be discouraged by failures. We are always reluctant to admit our weaknesses, but we must face them to solve them, if possible, or to find a way to transform them into success.
We like to close our interviews with a question from the Proust questionnaire. The one we have chosen for you is: what is your current state of mind?
From a professional point of view, I am excited because we are going through a major integration process that will help us grow - many challenges but also many opportunities.
From a personal point of view, I am constantly on the move. I have decided to take up my old passions of tennis and sailing again, which I had put away for a while to focus on work. I have discovered that, despite my age, I can do everything well, maybe even better than when I was younger.
Video edited by Dovilė Bogušytė