Topic of the Edition


Labour market and +50s - Q4 2014

Evolution - Q2 2014

Learning - Q1 2014

Women With a Dream - Q3 2013

Being fit for success - Q2 2013

Pushing Limits - Q1 2013

Women & Risks - Q4 2012

Women & Ideals - Q3 2012


Change is in the air - Q1 2012

PWI PROGRAM - Building the women pipeline to the board: Talent & Recruitment - Autumn 2011

Mentoring - Summer 2011

Women Under the Spotlight - Spring 2011

  • 12 Oct 2012 01:03 | Armelle Loghmanian

     “Ignorance about volunteering is its major limitation to flourishing"

    Interview by Alessandra Zocca


    Eva Hambach;
    President of the European Volunteer Centre (CEV - Centre européen du volontariat),
    Director of the “Vlaams Steunpunt Vrijwilligerswerk” and
    President of the Belgian High Council for Volunteering

    PWI – Eva, would you like to introduce CEV to the PWI Magazine readership?
    What is the mission, scope and organization/structure? Which are the CEV member organisations? Who are the CEV ambassadors and supporters?

    The European Volunteer Centre, CEV (from the French “Centre européen du volontariat”) was created in 1992 – actually it is our 20th anniversary this year - by a few countries like the UK, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, France and Spain, after a meeting in Lucca (Italy). CEV is a European network of volunteer organisations/centres/entities in the European Union mainly, but now we accept also volunteer associations outside of the European Union.

    We have links with IAVE (The International Association for Volunteer Effort), a global network of volunteers, volunteer organisations, national representatives and volunteer centres, with members in over 70 countries in all world regions. A difference between CEV and IAVE is that the latter’s members can also be individuals and that we focus mainly on Europe.

    The main purpose of CEV is cooperating, exchanging knowledge, experiences and information, but also strengthening the voice of the volunteering sector in the member states and at European level. For example we share the European policies to our members to make sure they can apply them at national level.

    Referring to CEV organisation we have two assembles a year:
    • A General Assembly which is restricted to members only that is always linked to our CEV Conference, which is also open to external participants.
    • The next conference, the “Autum 2012 CEV Symposium”, will be held in Cascais (Portugal) on the 19th-20th October 2012. The theme of this year’s symposium will be <<We’re in this together? Volunteering and age friendly societies>>, because the Symposium will tackle the issue of volunteering in the context of the “European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012”. Each year the conference is hosted by two different members states, one hosts the spring GA and Conference, another hosts the autumn GA and conference.

    We have created the “ambassadors”, established out of the original idea to involve personalities from sport, art, culture, and politics in each country to support our cause and our organisation. Do you know that Elton John was the first CEV nominated ambassador?
    Supporters or partners are companies at country or European level, governments, foundations and institutions that support us economically and in our activities, any stakeholder that is willing to support CEV and its mission.

    PWI - Which are the main activities of CEV: for example projects, campaigns, policies and events?
    Let me first clarify, Alessandra, that CEV includes any type of volunteering associations, cross-sector bodies independently from the volunteer organisation size. CEV has indeed a broad scope!

    We carry out different types of activities:
    •  Monitoring – We monitor the volunteering situation in the countries, we try to understand the needs and trends, we collect data and we publish documentation about the different angles of volunteering.
    •  Advocacy – We make efforts to ensure that institutions and politics understand the value of volunteering. We follow up EU regulations and policies which impact on volunteering, we seek public support for them and we provide our members with recommendation of a particular policy.
      We organize conferences on volunteering themes, like the above mentioned symposium.
    • Projects – We run or take part in projects with specific focus, for example in partnership with the John Hopkins University to measure the value of volunteering.
    We have engaged in the European Volunteering Measurement Project (MVMP), which is supported by the European Commission, by the Council of the European Union and by the European Parliament. Launched during the 2011 European Year of Volunteering, the European Volunteer Measurement Project is a collaboration between us, the Centro di Servizio per il Voluntario del Lazio (SPES) and the authors of the ILO* Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work, which aims to disseminate this Manual and promote its implementation throughout Europe.
    Additionally we get involved in important projects launched at member country level (for ex. on life-long learning).

    PWI – You are the President, Eva; tell us about yourself and your role. What inspired you to join CEV?
    I am actually covering two roles. As my main job I am the Director of the Flemish Centre of Voluntary Work (VSVw - Vlaams Steunpunt Vrijwillingerswerk), which “aims the promotion of volunteering and the support of volunteer work. In order to realise this aim, this association provides guidance and support towards volunteers’ organisations in different sectors and protects their interests. This is done through the delivery of services as support from experts, information, advice, educational programs and products, publications, materials, techniques or equipment (**)”.

    With a European hat on I am the President of CEV. I have been inspired by my former president of VSVw, who was one of the founding members (and board member) of CEV and who invited me to the CEV general Assembly in London in 2003. This is how I got involved, then, in 2005 I was given the opportunity to join the CEV board and in 2009 – when the CEV president stepped down – I was elected at the Malmö’s assembly as the CEV President.

    What inspired me to work in the volunteering arena you ask … The trigger, I think, is “engagement”, the complexity of all volunteering aspects, the many dimensions of it. I believe it is like a mission to engage people in the society at European or local community level, my big drive is fighting for the recognition of the volunteer work, the value that volunteers create.
    I adore the opportunity given by my role in CEV to be in contact with many counterparts and people with various skills, different points of view and alternative approaches. I get passionate about how all these volunteers, active in the field, are attached to their goals, how they do not get distracted from their objectives. I like also building policies, this means to me doing something good for the society.

    PWI – What have you personally learned from your work with volunteers and volunteering organisations?
    I have learned lessons on different aspects like freedom, behaviour, motivation …
    I learned that we need to respect the approaches of others, even if we know we are experts, to give the others the freedom to reach their goals according to their style, there is not only one way to do things.

    I understood the importance of “listening”, to open up your ears to others’ points of view, to accept other practices and to recognise that beyond differences there is a common soul in volunteering, a common idea of engagement and contribution to society.

    I have learned also not to “take myself too seriously” all the time, but to use a sense of humour

    PWI –  How would you define “volunteering”? Tell us why volunteering matters? 
    In my opinion “volunteering” is actively contributing to the society out of our own free will. It matters to me that we reach a social cohesion, that we feel connected, we share values and that we add a human touch into the society.

    What triggers the desire and the will to volunteer in somebody is very personal. Each individual has his/her own reasons for getting engaged in volunteering and, you know Alessandra, for me their reason is irrelevant, I do not want to judge others personal motivations, it does not matter why.
    Actually, the motivation for volunteering can change over time, it’s proven by facts: for example people start volunteering for religious reasons or because they feel isolated or because they want to put this activity in their résumé for better credits. But after a time, by practicing it, they get more and more committed and they develop a stronger and stronger sense of responsibility.

    PWI - What is the current status of volunteering in Europe and in the rest of the world? Which are the best practices in volunteering in your opinion?
    I notice that CEV works with the European Commission; do you have any joint initiatives planned for the future?
    It is still difficult to determine the status of volunteering in the different countries.
    In terms of best practices, I have to admit that in each country in Europe and worldwide I find good practices.
    Yes, we collaborate with the EU Institutions: last year the EU celebrated the Volunteering year in each state in order to trigger their attention on this phenomenon, unfortunately this does not mean that every state did something extra to support volunteering or to improve volunteering structures or to grant more funds… We need to check the EU Commission initiative’s sustainable impact in the coming years. For now what I can clearly see, is that volunteering has been put back into the picture, more visibility, this is the first step.
    Are there more women volunteering than men or is it my impression?
    Well, I think it depends: if you look at the whole picture, the balance is pretty equal, but you find difference across sectors. Caring volunteering is still a woman’s job, if you look at the sports domain, then it’s a man’s world, especially for football, hockey, basketball etc.
    If we consider the volunteering associations at board level, again it is a man’s domain; even in volunteering … nothing differs from the other sectors, unfortunately. One area for our attention is gender balance in volunteering organisations. I mean we need to collect evidence, more accurate data <<where are the women?>>, but the first question we have to ask is whether women do want to climb up the hierarchical ladder.

    As people now enjoy a longer and healthier retirement, do you think that more retirees will take up volunteering? How do you forecast the volunteering future?
    What are the enablers and the barriers to volunteering blooming?
    Taking into account some differences between western and eastern countries (the latter, during the period of communism, forced some citizens to do some compulsory “volunteer” tasks), I would say that the majority of volunteers are around 35-50 years old, followed by the increasing percentage of 50+ years-old volunteers.

    My best forecast is that – from Belgian/ European statistics and the demographic trend - the number of “elderly volunteers” will grow constantly and significantly in the coming years due to the larger number of retired people, still in good shape, who find in volunteering a way to feel helpful.
    The good news is that the forecast of volunteering shows a growth in the next 25 years, the bad news is that the world will have to cope with fewer volunteers, at least in the western countries. In fact, the expansion of volunteering in young people, will be jeopardized by the demographic contraction trend, which will create a sort of “inverted pyramid” with less young individuals and more elders. … I think that this consideration has not yet being brought to the table.

    Coming to barriers, one of the main obstacle is the “ignorance” about the volunteering concept, a lack of information, people do not know what to expect, they cannot imagine. Another barrier is represented by the lack of talking about the volunteering work we do, we are too modest, too silent. A risk is that volunteering work could be abused, with volunteers used to replace paid jobs.

    PWI -    
    Eva, what is your dream regarding “volunteering”?         

    My dream? Simple and complex at the same time, Alessandra.
    My dream, in general, is to see more people enjoying volunteering across Europe!
    The other dream is more related to CEV: more financial resources to build and develop our infrastructure.

    Short Biography
    Eva Hambach is Director of the “Vlaams Steunpunt Vrijwilligerswerk”, the Flemish region volunteer support centre in Belgium, and President of the Belgian High Council for Volunteering.
    She holds a Master degree in Political Sciences and International Policy.
    During her career she managed local community projects and served as Head of a Social Service Provision Office in Antwerp, was involved for several years in the Belgian Trade Union and has lived in Syria for 2 years before joining the Vlaams Steunpunt Vrijwilligerswerk in 2001 as its director.
    Since 2003 Eva is active within the CEV network and was elected member of the Board of Directors in 2005. Eva has published various pieces on volunteering including manuals on the Belgian law on volunteering and on volunteer management.

    Eva Hambach

    (*) ILO Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work - <<This Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work is intended to guide countries in generating systematic and comparable data on volunteer work via regular supplements to labour force surveys>>:
    (**) Flemish Centre of Voluntary Work (VSVw - Vlaams Steunpunt Vrijwillingerswerk)

    Disclaimer -    
    Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CEV, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.

  • 11 Oct 2012 23:38 | Armelle Loghmanian

     “Torture is a contextual factor"

    Interview by Alessandra Zocca


    Helene de Rengervé
    Head of the Brussels Office of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)

    PWI – Premise - Hélène, I used to be an activist at Amnesty International for many years and I led campaigns against torture. I am very sensitive to this crime, therefore I thank you for helping torture victims recover and be able to hope again.

    Hélène, please introduce IRCT (International Rehabilitation Council for Torture) to us, their mission, organisation and main activities?

    IRCT (International Rehabilitation Council for Torture) is an umbrella organisation of 143 rehabilitation centres (members) in more than 70 countries around the world representing an international movement against torture and for victims of torture. These centres provide primarily medical, psychological care and sometimes also legal and social support to a hundred thousands of torture survivors each year.

    There are a number of organisations that work on torture prevention, but IRCT is amongst the few ones who work on rehabilitation of torture victims.

    Organisationally speaking the IRCT Head office (the Secretariat) is located in Copenhagen and Joost Martens recently took up his post as the new Secretary-General.
    IRCT includes also two delegations, one in Brussels working towards the EU institutions here and one in Geneva towards the UN. The Brussels Office I head is in charge of four main activities: the EU-policy follow-up, advocacy and networking, the support to the IRCT members by promoting and exchanging knowledge/ best practices, and the regional coordination of 50 centers located in 26 European countries.

    IRCT was founded in 1982 in Copenhagen by a woman, Dr. Inge Genefke. “… in response to Amnesty International's appeal in 1973 to the medical profession to help fight torture, Dr. Inge Genefke formed the first Amnesty International medical group in Denmark. At that time no knowledge existed about the destructive influence of torture on the victim's physical and psychological health, so the work started from scratch. The pioneering investigations of Genefke's group resulted in the establishment of more medical groups the world over. The need for treatment and rehabilitation then led to the establishment of the first rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims in Copenhagen with Dir. Genefke as medical director” (1).

    Inge Genefke inspired a film – “The Secret Life of Words”, directed by Isabel Coixet in 2005 - in which the IRCT’s founder role was played by the actress Julie Christie.

    PWI - Which are the current projects, campaigns and events?
    Alessandra, we are supporting our member centres in many regions but particularly these days, in the Great lakes and in Libya. I would also like to highlight the two campaigns illustrated below (2).

     Join IRCT for a World without Torture

    IRCT has created the social media campaign World Without Torture (3) to enable citizens around the world to engage directly in combating torture and supporting torture victims.

    Personal stories from torture victims, global torture fighters and those who have been touched by torture will be featured on Facebook, Twitter and on our blog, as will factual information on torture.

    You can help realise the dream of a World Without Torture by getting engaged and helping us spread the word.


    International Day

           Thank you for commemorating the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (4)

    PWI – Hélène, what inspired you to pursue your professional life in a humanitarian field? And why IRCT?
    Tell us, please, about yourself and your role of Head of IRCT Brussels Office.
    Since my childhood I have as always fought unfairness, Alessandra, I was born in the republic of Central Africa where my parents lived as lay missionaries, in a mission in the 60s and 70s.
    I was young when I came back to Europe, but early in my professional life, I started working for a rehabilitation centre in Paris in charge of the fund raising and later on, together with Dr. Pierre Duterte (General Practitioner & psychotherapist) (5), I founded a centre for rehabilitation of torture victims, where I was heading the administration and advocacy activities.

    When my husband moved to Brussels I succeeded in finding my current job at IRCT, which gives me a lot of stamina. In my role I lead three major area:
    • Follow up the EU policies in the fields of anti-torture and asylum conditions
    • Identify and deal with funding sources
    • Support IRCT member centres in funding matters and in seeking opportunities.

    PWI – What is the torture status in the world?
    It’s a sad to say, Alessandra, torture (6) is nowadays practiced in over 100 countries in the world, I mean systematic torture as a means to enforce law, repress populations and extract confessions.
    Even in Europe we still suffer from this social plague: we have torture cases in Belarus and Ukraine, and regular practice in Azerbaijan.
    While sexual torture is perpetrated against both women and men, the traditional torture as means for repression usually affects primarily men (especially in societies dominated by men). If not tortured themselves, women and children are also very often “secondary victims”, meaning:

    • Wives or children of an imprisoned man are discriminated against or rejected by their community. For example in Mauritania, while a guy was in prison and tortured, the police officers repeatedly raped his wife in front of their children to maintain the pressure, and his children were banned from school because they were sons and daughters of an opponent to the regime, who was depicted as a bad person
    • Tortured men, if not rehabilitated, tend to get very irritable to noise and stress, and have problems bonding again with their loved ones and sometimes they cannot refrain from beating their wife and children, even if they remember that before the torture they never did that and thus feel guilty about it. This vicious circle will probably instill the same violent pattern in these children when they are adults
    • In the worst case, torture can affect several generations. The physical and mental after-effects of torture often place great strain on the entire family and society. Children are particularly vulnerable (7). Often, the first objective of rehabilitation is to help the survivor to relieve the suffering from feelings of guilt or personal responsibility for what has happened.

    Unfortunately, the rehabilitation work is also impaired by the fact that many perpetrators are not prosecuted, and in case where they are, they are convicted for extreme use of violence, a softened terminology to avoid the word “torture”. No state wants to admit the usage of torture; this is also a reason why rehabilitation centres for victims of torture are rarely supported: this would mean acknowledging its practice.

    PWI –  Hélène, is it not natural that we automatically feel repulsion towards torture?
    Torture scares anyone, it freezes us into inaction. Despite the fact that torture is not natural, the main risk of accepting torture is a contextual factor.
    Unfortunately people who live in countries where systematic torture exists, they get trapped in the loop as torture is an entire element of their reference context. In this case campaigns against torture, the prosecution of perpetrators and rehabilitation work are essential but not sufficient, it’s necessary to “repair” also the community and to help them reframe their context by experimenting the rule of law.

    Let me make an example: some Sierra Leone child soldiers in a rehabilitation therapy in Paris were discussing the presidential election process in France and specifically the episode of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing failing to secure his re-election in 1981 and saying goodbye online. For these children it was unbelievable how d'Estaing accepted this conclusion and did not put in action any retaliation to recover his power. Their life experience was different from ours and it affected their theoretical understanding of the rule of Law. It took them to live it before they could truly integrate what we meant by this concept.

    PWI -  
    How can such a horrible shock like torture be healed? What does rehabilitation consists of? What is the future after torture for its victims, how can they cope with life?
    Rehabilitation and reintegration are difficult because once individuals have been tortured, they need to overcome serious obstacles:
    • Victims struggle to believe that somebody could have inflicted pain with such evil, that they were deliberately tortured. Denying it happened or obliterating it from their memory is a form of self-protection.

    • They suffer from multiple physical and psychological sequellae: body pains, headaches, anxiety, depression, etc.

    • They do not have trust in others and are often reluctant to engage in relationships, it becomes complicated for them to reach intimacy, to accept kindness and they become oversensitive to noise and confusion.

    • They fear that they are going insane and they might have invented everything. 
      I can mention the case of an Iranian guy, who was arrested and tortured for one year and then intentionally his captors released him on exactly the same day, same time and same place where he was arrested. With this technique the perpetrators wanted to confuse him: the guy was not really sure something so terrible really happened to him and he accepted the sad truth only when he got his refugee status stating he had certainly been tortured.

    •  In some areas of the world, like Africa, torture acts are more and more systematically associated with rape, whose impact becomes even more atrocious in the Muslim communities, because being raped is considered as a family’s disgrace. Rape victims have serious difficulties and low probabilities of being reintegrated without proper support.
    Rehabilitation is necessary and the specific healing approach may vary from person to person due to their different personalities. Rehabilitation can be summarized in rebuilding:
    •  Trust – Creating the ability to engage again, to believe other individuals

    •  Safety – Recreating the sense and the conditions of safety at physical, mental and family levels

    •  Hope – Awake in victims the hope for their future, in fact they cannot recover, if they don’t have perspectives of a decent life. The ones who do not achieve the feeling of hope, they are at high risk of committing suicide.

    We have adopted a holistic approach towards rehabilitation, you cannot support a person to get back to their lives as before counting only on a strict medical approach: torture victims need psychological and social support, family or/and individual therapy in order to be able to reintegrate themselves in the society.
    When needed, other members of the survivor’s family – in particular the spouse and children – are also offered treatment and counseling.

    Doctors and psychologists/ psychiatrists with the adequate skills to relieve and heal torture victims are not easy to find and it is also for them a very difficult task to deal with.

    Rehabilitation is sometimes long and difficult and its result is strongly related to external life factors such as housing, poverty, legal status, etc. but when offered, it makes a clear difference and allows survivors to rebuild their life as full as possible.

    PWI -   
    Do you have a story that you would like to share with us about a good outcome for a group of victims of torture?        

    Thank God there are plenty of stories with a positive outcome. I will tell you the story of a sixteen year old child soldier going through rehabilitation in a centre in Paris, every day the child had a consultation with a doctor, but he did not say a word, just cried. It took six months before he felt able to open up, to speak and share his terrible story.
    After three years the child was given the opportunity to engage in a small job (i.e. making photocopies etc.), which he accepted and after some time he asked to be trained as a documentalist. Later he got the documentalist certification, succeeded in obtaining a study grant and achieved an international business law degree in the US, where he married and currently lives happily.

    PWI – Can you foresee a world in which torture will no longer take place?
    My real dream would be to eliminate torture, but unfortunately it’s still utopia. I think, though, that we could achieve rehabilitation not only for the victims of torture, but also for their local communities and thus slowly reducing the tolerance for torture.
    I wish also a proper justice for the perpetrators of torture, to cancel their impunity, because they are conscious that what they are doing is not excusable: tortures nowadays are scientifically developed and executed! Leaving the perpetrators free is just opening the door to more torture as much as addressing torture politically only behind closed doors.
    The end of torture can only take place when we all will fight our own repulsion to it, face it and fight it publicly.

    Short Biography
    Hélène de Rengervé, Responsibilities include oversight of all IRCT activities across the Council of Europe region; liaising with European member organisations and coordination of actions & projects; monitoring EU policies (both for internal & external affairs/on political and operational grounds); advocating on the survivors’ rights to rehabilitation in Europe as well as leading fundraising efforts on behalf of European rehabilitation centres. From 2004-2010 she worked as administrative and financial director at the IRCT member centre Parcours d’Exil, which she had [H. de Rengervé] co-founded in 2001. Previous experience also includes presidency of AEGEE Europe, mission leader at WelcomEurope, project management for the Newropeans International Conference in 2000, working as trainer in Poland within the framework of the PHARE programme and a position at the rehabilitation centre AVRE, in France. BA in Trade and Management, MA in European Studies and Fundraising Diploma. Languages: French (mother tongue), English (fluent), Spanish (independent user). From January 2013 on, she will become Head of Donor Relations for IRCT

    Hélène de Rengervé
    Head of IRCT Brussels office & Programme Co-ordinator Europe

    205 rue Belliard - 1040 Brussels
    Tel: +32 2 230 15 04

    International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
    Borgergade 13
    P.O. Box 9049
    1022 Copenhagen K
    Tel: +45 33 76 06 00
    Fax: +45 33 76 05 00

    Disclaimer -   
    Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of IRCT, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.


    (1) Honorary Award (1988) to Inge Genefke

    (6 The most widely accepted definition of torture internationally is that set out by Article 1 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT):
    “... 'torture' means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”

    From this definition, it can be said that torture is the intentional infliction of severe mental or physical pain or suffering by or with the consent of the state authorities for a specific purpose. Torture is often used to punish, to obtain information or a confession, to take revenge on a person or persons or create terror and fear within a population.
  • 07 Oct 2012 00:06 | Armelle Loghmanian

     “Women are the architects of their future"

    Interview by Alessandra Zocca

    Marie-Anne Delahaut , 
    Director of Research and head of the Information Unit at The Destree Institute,
    Head and Founder of Millennia2015,
    President of the Millennia2025 "Women and Innovation" Foundation, PUF

    PWI – Marie-Anne, you have two hats, let’s start with the Destree Institute. Tell us, please, about its mission, activities and your role as Director of Research.

    Our meeting for the interview happens at a happy time: The Destree Institute was founded exactly 75 years ago in Namur, on the 11th June 1938. It was named in honor of the Minister of Sciences and Arts Jules Destree, who died in 1936.
    The Destree Institute is a European pluralist research centre, a non-governmental, non-profit body and a think-tank; as per our statute: <<Acknowledged as a general service for lifelong learning and research centre with an interuniversity calling, the Destree Institute works as a permanent think-tank …. It pursues its goals with the greatest attention to the European and global dimensions of these issues, along with their impact on society as a whole. The Destree Institute operates therefore as a sensor of change and generates innovative ideas for action, in favour of deliberative democracy and the common good of society>>.
    The Institute is, organizationally speaking, structured in four dynamic units: history research, information society, citizenship and foresight.

    I have been working for a long time at The Destree Institute with different missions: director of publications, network administrator and director of research, head of the Information Society. I have been active in the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society since 2003, with a special research about "Foresight and governance of the internet"(I).

    PWI - What is your background and what brought you to join the Destree Institute?
    As a student and at the beginning of my career, I was a member of the Liege section of The Destree Institute.
    I began my career as a French Teacher, discovered computers in 1987 and decided to learn more about information and communication technologies: I became network administrator and I developed the independent network of The Destree Institute (DNS, mail and web servers, database). I had another job when I was asked to join the team and… I accepted.
    PWI – Which are the main challenges of non-profit organization and of the research nowadays?
    As far as I know, NGOs are created by people who have good ideas and goals, willing to act as "not for profit" organizations to develop projects. People gather spontaneously around those ideas and projects, people are ready to work, to produce research for free, but the difficulty is to gather money to finance these projects, particularly in the developing countries. The necessity of financing them is a struggle, the situation is not easy and funding is an important challenge for many NGOs.

    PWI – What is the link between the Destree Institute and Millennia2015? What is the spirit of Millennia2015? 
    Millennia2015 - "Women actors of development for the global challenges" is a foresight research process (II) developed and organized by The Destree Institute.

    We are lucky to benefit from the wise advice of Dr. Eleonora Barbieri Masini (III) member of Millennia2015 Steering Committee. She has summarized Millennia2015's role and spirit in a short text translated into 22 languages by our members (extract below):

     "… Millennia2015's commitment is to highlight women's crucial role in society and their unrecognized capacity as builders of alternative futures, based on characteristics such as an innate future orientation, capacity to mediate and to network at all levels, capacity to be social actors, to face natural catastrophes and human conflicts by creating solidarity among women.

    Millennia 2015 offers, through the use of advanced means of communication, the great opportunity for women all over the world to be in contact and thus render their role visible to themselves and at world level. … All women involved in Millennia2015 constantly show their participation by sharing their work and activities.

    Women, in Millennia2015, come from different backgrounds, different cultures and different involvements in their societies. They come together with the aim of bringing to the forefront their role in every society as well as of building alternative futures according to their different roles, but with a common awareness.

    … It recognizes the role of women as well as women's enhancement as social actors that can make a difference and not mostly as victims, as still often thought. Millennia2015 shows women themselves and the world, that they can bring change towards a more human and sharing community" (IV).

    PWI –The Millennia2015 website contains lots of information and documentation, a huge effort. Could you please provide us with the key features of Millennia2015? What are its mission, goals, values and activities?
    Well, Alessandra, let me try to illustrate the Millennia2015 key feature in a structured and concise manner:
    • The mission of Millennia2015 is to examine the strategies that - while respecting cultural and linguistic diversity - will lead towards more equality and solidarity and that take into account the needs/ values of women by the year 2025.

    • The goal of Millennia2015 is to act for gender equality, women's empowerment and their full participation to political, economic and social decisions, in complementarity with men, in order to build fairer and more ethical futures at the horizon 2025.
      The collaborative objective of Millennia2015 is to federate, on its multilingual website all the stakeholders mobilized for women’s empowerment, making sure to include the poorest.

    • The key values of Millennia2015 are complementarity between women and men, respect for rights and diversity, promotion of the human capital and of digital solidarity in order to empower women.

    • The tasks of Millennia2015, detailed in the millennia charter, consist in:
      • Identifying the nature of current and future changes;
      • Promoting a culture of respect for diversity and peace;
      • Recognizing and acknowledging women's ability to be actors and not victims of social change, while developing a new worldview that can create a more sustainable life for all humankind; building networks of feminine competence.
        Basing on content analysis dealing with gender issues raised since 2008, the 37 variables (V) of Millennia2015 have been formulated and analyzed by the contributors. The elaboration of hypothesis will enable Millennia2015 to produce exploratory scenarios.

    • The Millennia2015 process, built with its international partners, is structured through three phases regulated by three international conferences organized by The Destree Institute:
      •  2008 - "Information transfer": Exchange and transmission of data as well as of analysis already collected or built, used to inform the participants or to question the society.
      • 2012 - "Knowledge process": Interactive building processes, step-by-step, for an innovative knowledge and a strategy made of precise actions.
      • 2015 - "Intelligence platforms": Collective dynamics of real field experiences exchanges and recombination of tools realized in order to learn together as well as to launch innovative initiatives.

    The three conferences details are illustrated in the picture below:

     PHASES  Information Transfer Phase   Knowledge Process Phase  Intelligence Platform Phase
     ORGANISER  The Destree Institute
     The UNESCO & The
    Destree Institute
     UN Women & The Destree Institute
     LOCATION  Convention Centre, Liege  UNESCO Headquarters, Paris  United Nations, New York
     DATE  07-08 March 2008   3-4 December 2012  2015

    PWI - How is Millennia2015 organised, how does it work? What’s the geographical scope? How can individual women / firms / humanitarian organisations become involved in Millennia2015?
    The governance of Millennia2015 is ensured by its direction, it’s a team within The Destree Institute and the steering committee.
    My current collaborator, Coumba Sylla, who is research fellow at The Destree Institute for Millennia2015, came first as a trainee of the Eurodyssee Programme (Program of the Assembly of European Regions with the Union wallonne des Entreprises). I am lucky to welcome trainees, from the European ERASMUS Programme or from Eurodyssee: for example Rebeca Pascual Prats has been working with us for five months, her input is excellent. Trainees, motivated by a project, always come with an interesting constructive "new view".

    The functioning of Millennia2015 is based on the strength and interaction of its network, which is a valuable human capital consisting of:
    •  Members
    •  Contributors
    •  Regional communities
    •  International thematic working groups (IWG)
    We now count about 821 contributors, 2.713 members and 9.128 contacts in 109 countries

    I would like to highlight the core importance of the International thematic Working Groups (IWG), which have been developed around the 37  variables within the framework of the foresight exercise.

    The first and most active international working groups (IWGs) - "Women and eHealth" and “Women and Telemedicine” - have been created by Véronique Thouvenot, international expert at the European Centre for Humanitarian Health (CESH) and Scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO).
    Other thematic working groups are being formed: "Women in situations of conflict and of war" (around the United Nations Security Council Resolution UNSCR1325 - Women, Peace and Security), "Women in Science", "Women and Sport" and "Women and eSolidarity".

    Millennia2015 counts also several active Regional Communities, such as Benin, Djibouti, Goma (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Guatemala, India, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nepal and Senegal. They have studied the variables, produce studies, reports and promote Millennia2015 in their country or region.

    All people are welcome to join Millennia2015 it is easy and free to register online at:

    PWI -   
    What are the main challenges for Millennia2015??     

    We dramatically need sponsors and financial partners. Millennia2015 was funded with the support of the International Organization of la Francophonie between 2008 and 2011, through partnerships such as the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men in 2011, but the global economic crisis made us decide to create a specific foundation to support Millennia2015.
    The Millennia2025 "Women and Innovation" Foundation, a public utility foundation, is dedicated to collect funds in order to implement the activities of the Millennia2015 foresight research process led by The Destree Institute and to ensure the realization of the action plans in the partner regions of Millennia2015.
    We also call for donors and we welcome all the contributions (VI), and we are also ready to establish financial partnerships in the long run.

    PWI – I am often curious about logos, I wonder whether they have a real meaning and are not just chosen for aesthetical reasons. The Millennia2015 logo has been designed to express the “union” of many bodies supporting its intents and women. Is it true?
    Indeed, Alessandra, the Leitmotiv colour used in documents and in the website of Millennia 2015 is fuchsia (magenta), while every shape and colour of the logo has a specific meaning:
    •  The female symbols represent universality. They are colored from local to global, resulting in sustainable development values essential for us all. We all have roots somewhere, so I designed the logo using the red/yellow of Wallonia, working with the blue/yellow of the European Community shifting to the blue of UNESCO and United Nations, and the green of hope for our planet. 
    • The three spirals around the female symbols represent the three Millennia2015 international conferences, as illustrated above (they are in movement on our welcoming page (VII).

    PWI -   
    I see that Millennia2015 is under the high patronage of UNESCO …           

    Yes, indeed, Alessandra, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has offered support to host and promote our work. The Managing Director sent an encouraging letter to us for our 2008 conference and awarded the patronage of the UNESCO to the international conference Millennia2015, because the Millennia2015 goals underpin the UNESCO’s strategies and activities. In particular and in concern with Millennia2015 goals, UNESCO’s commitment to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment - particularly in developing countries - is facilitated by the Division for Gender Equality in the Office of the Managing Director.
    UNESCO has also recognized The Destree Institute as NGO official partner of UNESCO” (consultative status). Our NGO also benefits from the Special consultative status with the UN ECOSOC since 2012.

    We also call for donors and we welcome all the contributions (VI), and we are also ready to establish financial partnerships in the long run. 

    PWI -   
    What inspired you to found Millennia2015?                  

    Alessandra, let me try to highlight the path that brought me to create this initiative: I have always been a feminist but had no idea about how to activate that motivation.

    In 1998 I have founded the Wallonia Chapter of the Internet Society, whose goal was internet for everyone and as a driver of education. I am still a member of that international network. The challenges of internet governance emerged at a global level in 2003 with the World Summit on the Information Society. I participated to the first session in Geneva in 2003 and organized a research about "Foresight and governance of the internet" in 2005 at the Castle of Namur with international researchers. I presented the results in Tunis in 2005, with 19.000 other members of the civil society. It was impressive to be part of a United Nations meeting and to discover the complexity of decision making at that global level. It gave me the opportunity of meeting and working with many people from different countries and… among them many women, leaders, researchers, actors of development. Some of them represented communities from developing countries, with so much courage and hope!

    This experience of meeting many women from different countries and conditions, all active as architects of their own futures inspired me to develop a global network.

    On the 8th March 2006 our fellow France Chapter of the Internet Society invited me to present our research about foresight and governance of the Internet. I decided to ask for a short presentation to my new women colleagues and… it worked. The idea of Millennia2015 was born!
    In 2007 I created Millennia2015 as a foresight research process, hosted and part of The Destree Institute.

    PWI -   
    What are the main challenges that women have to face now, in your opinion, Marie-Anne? And in the near future?               
    The main challenges that women have to face now are, in my view, summarized in the 37 topics issued from our foresight research, the 37 variables of Millennia2015. Not a small number … especially in the developing countries.
    PWI -   
    You look like you are running two “dream” jobs, at least in my eyes, because they are interconnected with your ideals … What other dreams have not yet come true in your life that you feel ready to share with us?                     

    You say it: my "dream" jobs are interconnected with my ideals. They represent a significant part of my life and they are a sort of evolving, creative passion.

    We have created the database of Millennia2015 members, where people can freely register on our website. You cannot imagine, Alessandra, all the positive comments, the projects, the hopes people share with us. Therefore, one of my dreams is to keep my promise to those members: we must finalize our action plan for women's empowerment; we must shape our valuable little stones and add them to the construction of humanity.

    Women are the architects of their futures but time gets short because the problems are critical. We need to act now for our goals to be achieved by 2025, with women and men in harmony. It means a lot of work at a global level, a lot of hope, the strength of sisterhood and… a touch of madness, Alessandra…

    Madness or braveness? Ha, ha ... Welcome to the club, Marie-Anne!
    Short Biography

    Marie-Anne Delahaut is Director of research at The Destree Institute, Head and Founder of Millennia2015.
    She also serves as head of the Information Society Unit and network administrator at The Destree Institute, European Research Centre and NGO in consultative status with the UNESCO.
    She is president and founder of the Millennia2025 "Women and Innovation" Foundation, foundation of public interest whose goal is to realize the activities of the Millennia2015 foresight research process.

    Bachelor in Education, qualified teacher of French and of English, she has developed, since 1987, an expertise in ICT networks administration and has contributed, since 1989, to the development of the independent ICT network of the Destree Institute.

    Marie-Anne participates in the World Summit on the information society since 2003 and in the Internet Governance Forum. She has published works about Foresight and governance of the internet.

    Member of the Internet Society (ISOC), she has created the Chapter Wallonia (ISOC Belgium - Wallonia) in 1998, served as president (2005-2009) and is currently its honorary president.
    She is a member of the Board of the Brussels-Area Node of the Millennium Project and director of publication of the French version of the "State of the Future" 2005 and 2006.
    Marie-Anne is a member of the Belgian Association of Women Business owners, of the Commission on Women and Development of the Belgian Ministry of Development Cooperation, of the French-Speaking Women Council of Belgium and also of the European Center for Women and Technology.

    She was awarded the title of "Outstanding Woman 2011" for "her work and her action in favor of equal opportunities between women and men" from the Belgian Federal Deputy Prime Minister, in charge of Employment and Equal Opportunities.

    Marie-Anne Delahaut lives in Wallonia, near the French border. Married, she has three sons, one daughter and one grandson.

    Marie-Anne Delahaut

    - Director of research at The Destree Institute, Head and founder of Millennia2015,
    - President of the Millennia2025 Foundation, PUF,
    - Head of the Information Society Unit of The Destree Institute, NGO official partner of UNESCO (consultative status). - -

    9, avenue Louis Huart, BE 5000 Namur, Wallonia - Tel: 32.495.213.981 -

    Disclaimer -   
    Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Destree Institute and Millennia2015, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.


    (I) "Foresight and governance of the internet"

    (II) The foresight process of Millennia2015 - Basing on content analysis dealing with gender issues raised since 2008, the 37 variables of Millennia2015 have been formulated and analyzed by the contributors. Millennia2015 will produce explorative scenarios. In preparation for the 2012 international conference, the task is about setting the issues, in other words the good questions to be answered by expressing desirable futures. The issues will result in formulating a clear and elaborated vision for 2025 for each continent. The strategy needed to reach the Millennia2015 vision shall be the Action plan for women's empowerment, to be finalized at the Millennia2015 conference at the UNESCO on 3 and 4 December 2012.

    (III) Dr. Eleonora Barbieri Masini (Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Social Sciences, Gregorian University, Rome; Honorary member of the Club of Rome; Member of WAAS World Academy of Arts and Sciences; Past President of WFSF (World Futures Studies Federation) (1980-1990); Chairman of the Futures Research Committee of the International Sociological Association (1978-1997); Coordinator of the Network WIN (Women's International Network) Emergency and Solidarity, sponsored by UNESCO (1986-2005); Consultant to many Intergovernmental Organizations, such as United Nations University, UNESCO and UNDP; Member of the Finland Futures Academy).


    (V) 37 variables of Millennia2015:
    Definitions, analyses guide and questionnaires:

     1  V01 - Women, access to information and to knowledge 20   V24 - Women, media, ethics and development
     2  V02 - Strengthening women’s capacities  21  V25 - Violence against women
     3  V03 - Women in situations of conflict and of war  22  V26 - Women, economy and adaptation of the values for a sustainable global management
     4  V04 - Women and new participative skills  23  V27 - Women, feminism, ideas debate and politics
     5  V05 - Climate, ecology and respect of the environment  24  V30 - Towards a knowledge society: creativity and culture
     6  V06 - Change of attitudes about women  25  V31 - Women and discrimination
     7  V07 - Women, religion and obscurantism  26  V32 - Women and stereotypes, respect of oneself and of others
     8  V08 - Women and e-Health: connected medical knowledge benefiting all  27  V35 - Women, work and entrepreneurship
     9  V09 - Women, lifelong well-being and pro-activity  28  V36 - Women actors of development, creators of futures, assuming future generations' responsibility
    10   V10 - Women, cultural and linguistic diversity  29  V37 - Women's strength and sensibility as drivers for the future
     11  V12 - Women and girls status, relations between women/men, girls/boys in family and in society  30 V38 - Women as mediators and generators of peace
     12  V13 - Women, ethics and sustainable development  31  V40 - The strength of networks for women
     13  V14 - Women, poverty and striving for daily survival  32  V41 - Women and good governance
     14  V16 - Women and girls, lifelong education and training  33  V45 - The power of stories and of intergenerational transmission to inspire change
    15   V18 - Key position for women at all power and decision levels  34  V46 - Women, digital divides and internet governance
     16  V19 - Women and human rights  35  V47 - Women and migration
    17   V20 - Women and democracy, societal priority for the future  36  V48 - Women's empowerment
     18  V21 - Women, research, science and technology  37  V51 - Women, creative and collaborative solidarity
     19  V23 - Women and gender equality    

    (VI) The Millennia2025 "Women and Innovation" Foundation: for donations please check our bank account or by PayPal, all the details are online:


  • 29 Jun 2012 21:08 | Deleted user

    Volunteering as a life-style & welfare pioneering
    “By the way, have you got your volunteer credit card?”
    by Alessandra Zocca


    Alessandra Zocca 
    Secretary-General at PWI Brussels,
    Editor-in-Chief of the PWI Magazine

    Hands-on-volunteering has been part of my life since I have been seventeen, when I became an activist of Amnesty International till the end of my university studies. I was part of the committee who enabled the liberation of three people imprisoned for their ideas and their religion, and I took the leadership of the campaigns against torture.
    At the University of Verona I volunteered as President of the local AIESEC committee. For a couple of years - as a representative of a political party - I also volunteered as an administrator of a public library in Verona. 
    Later - while living in Milan and working with Accenture - I joined as an active member “Fondazione Bellisario”, where we promoted the female managers who could not count on family or networking to get professional and social visibility for their merit. 

    Now it should be clear why my activities with volunteer groups are part of my self-expression and my contribution to making  a better world, at least to try …

    The meaning of volunteering

    Volunteering, in my opinion, has different nuances, it is a deep motivation that satisfies different ideals or intentions:

    • Personal contribution - To be totally honest, volunteering is a great luxury to yourself, i.e. “giving for the pleasure of giving” and leaving something good in the world, on a small or bigger scale, according to your means. 
    • Civic consciousness - Volunteering is not only an act of caring and a sign of civic consciousness, but it is also a great opportunity for professional and personal growth. 
    • Skill development - Actually I was inspired to write this article when I realised that even LinkedIn has recognized the importance of the volunteering experience in profiles by introducing the “Volunteer Experience & Causes” field, where members can add volunteer positions. 
      Nicole Williams, LinkedIn's Connection Director and best-selling author of the book "Girl on Top” said: "Given the current economic climate and the hypercompetitive job market, it's essential to include your volunteer work on your profile. Even if you're currently unemployed, you can still actively volunteer and begin to accrue new skill sets” (*).
    •  Welfare“In most developed countries, Welfare is largely provided by the government, in addition to charities, informal social groups, religious groups, and inter-governmental organizations. In the end, this term replaces "charity" as it was known for thousands of years, being the voluntary act of providing for those who temporarily or permanently could not provide for themselves “(**).
      Have you ever thought how the International Red Cross was founded? Thanks to Jean-Henri Dunant (***), who - shocked by the terrible aftermath of the Solferino battle - devoted himself to helping with the treatment and care for the wounded.  
    Volunteering Vision,  Framework and Implications

    The SCHEME I built below reflects my overall idea/vision of a “Volunteering Credit Framework; of course, it needs a lot of thinking through, but I just wanted to share with you my belief that volunteering has to be encouraged and sustained as a healthy life-style and as pragmatic means to promote welfare.

    In my eyes the main opportunity for promoting volunteering would be to create a legal and social “Volunteering Credit Framework” sponsored by the EU Institutions and leading corporations/ institutions, and to be implemented across the EU Countries in order to allow volunteering to be defined, measured and recognized. 
    It is very clear to me that volunteering is not for everybody and it should not be compulsory (“voluntas” means willingness in Latin), but it should be a great opportunity and recognition for the ones who take part in it.


    In this framework - while there is not yet a diffused public consciousness of volunteering and solidarity – the trigger for people to embrace volunteering will be the possibility to accumulate credits and to utilize them according to people’s values (e.g. spend the accumulated credits, add them to normal working hours to retire a little bit earlier, or accomplish public honours/decorations).

    The potential implications to sustain this framework could be:
    • Cultural change - Including volunteering in school/ university curricula could  lead to a change in culture and to a massive contribution to solidarity and active citizenship
    • Professional asset - “Volunteering experiences” will become a recognized and appreciated asset in any professional curriculum by firms, educational institutions, governments and European institutions.
      Recognised professional and social volunteering experiences will make people consider volunteering as a tremendous choice to:
      • Try their hand at a range of new transferable skills and experiences (e.g. team-work, relationship management, marketing campaign, listening, group leadership, resourcing, budgeting, project management: very useful in the world of work) in a low-risk arena
      • Develop their talents and gain experience
      • Demonstrate values such as compassion and commitment (in a labour market where professional competencies abound, personal qualities and values should contribute to make the difference)
      • Create or expand a network of qualified and valuable connections
    • Social responsibility - Volunteering could be one stream for companies to explore “social responsibility
    • Aging society asset - Volunteering when retired will create the ground for new forms to sustain families, children and people in need, but above all will allow new ways to capture and disseminate wisdom, values, traditions and experiences.

    Implementation challenges and encouraging facts

    An inspiring parallel example of how the proposed volunteering credit framework could be introduced is the recent adoption by the European Parliament of  the Report on 'Women and Business Leadership', aiming at increasing competent women's access to top jobs. This resolution, known as “Female Quotas” introduction, is now on the agenda of major companies, it will take time to be fully implemented, but – fortunately - is at a point of no return. 

    The main challenges to implement the proposed volunteering framework include bureaucracy, potential divergence on how to define and measure “volunteering”, how to detail credits and, of course, how to involve corporations and bring public companies on board. I am convinced that there are many countries, and many volunteering organisations around the world, which are more evolved in volunteering and can bring inspiration and good practical suggestions to countries and charities where volunteering is less developed. 
    For the moment let me share a couple (few) of preliminary but encouraging facts: 

    • New research from LinkedIn shows that one out of every five hiring managers in the U.S. agree they have hired a candidate because of their volunteer work experience
    • Some of the best universities require previous volunteering experiences as a prerequisite for students’ applications
    • The International Labour Organization has published the “ILO Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work” prepared for the 18th International Conference of Labour Statisticians: <<The objective is to improve and make available data on a significant form of work (volunteer work) that is growing in importance but that is often ignored or rarely captured in traditional economic statistics. Doing so will help to fulfil the mandate set forth in a resolution by the UN General Assembly to 'enhance the knowledge base' about volunteer work and to 'establish the economic value of volunteering>>.


    In conclusion, let me summarize my thoughts, volunteering:
    • Is a personal “choice”
    • Should be encouraged, promoted, measured and rewarded as a blessing for the society
    • Is the basis for further civilisation and welfare

    “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…” (*****)


    (*)     LinkedIn adds "Volunteer Experience & Causes" field to Profile -
    (****) ILO Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work - <<This Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work is intended to guide countries in generating systematic and comparable data on volunteer work via regular supplements to labour force surveys>>:
    (*****) “IMAGE” by John Lennon -

      Short Biography
    Alessandra Zocca joined PWI Brussels in 2010 and in May 2011 was appointed as Secretary-General.
    She is also the Founder and the Editor of the PWI Magazine.

    Alessandra is a change management expert with an international career background. She has held different managerial positions - both as director and consultant - within leading global multinational companies, including DHL and Accenture, working in Belgium, Italy, Germany and Sweden.
    She started her career as an organisation and manufacturing lecturer at the University of Verona, where she graduated in Economics in 1985 (her thesis was published). In 2001 she earned her Master’s Degree in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP).

    Alessandra has actively contributed to associations like Amnesty International, AIESEC and Fondazione Marisa Bellisario. She is also associate manager at Obiettivo50.

    Born in Verona (Italy), Alessandra speaks five languages, is a passionate traveller and a psychology scholar. 

  • 23 Jun 2012 20:24 | Deleted user
    “An optimist wants to do something against resignation”
    Interview by Christa Cantieni Cunin, Executive Coach at SAMIDA coaching & consulting

    Luc Simonet
    Independent Law Practice Professional,
    Founder of Ligue des optimistes du royaume de Belgique.

    PWI –Luc Simonet, what is the story of you founding the "Ligue des Optimistes/Optimistenbond?  
    Luc Simonet - It was in 2005. I had been a finance lawyer for many years but it came to a point where I did not feel enthusiastic about what I was doing anymore. I had had enough! I decided to take a sabbatical break. It was when my daughter said on a rainy day: "Gosh! It's raining!” that I decided to print on umbrellas: "What a beautiful rainy day!” This was sort of the birth of the "League of the Optimists".

    PWI – What does "optimism" mean to you?
    Luc Simonet - We understand "optimism" not as an opposite to "pessimism" but as an opposite to "cynicism". An optimist is enthusiastic. The word "enthusiasm" comes from Greek and means "inspired by a divine afflatus". Being an optimist derives from a conscious decision and a discipline. 
    An optimist wants to do something against resignation. When you resign yourself to something, you end up becoming a cynic.

    .PWI – What is the mission of the "League of the Optimists"?
    Luc Simonet - We believe that we are free. As a free person I am the master of my thoughts. Thus, I am responsible for my thoughts, my thinking, my happiness and as such for my life. And, I am also responsible for others and for the world as a whole.
    So, our Association is based on these principles and contributes to the feeling of responsibility of each and every one but also to the feeling of responsibility of groups, companies and the society as a whole.
    The mission of the "League of the Optimists" is to bring together people, create networks and organize events around all sorts of different themes and issues. We want to contribute in educating, growing awareness in people, giving hope and inspiring people to change their thinking and behaviour. We want to initiate a cultural revolution by promoting trust in abundance.

    PWI – What kind of events have you organized?
    Luc Simonet -We have organized speeches, workshops and conferences on different subjects. 
    We also have a choir of optimistic singers, rehearsing every two weeks. Something we have been concerned about lately is the subject of malnutrition and low quality of food. We have organized sessions to grow awareness of the un-healthiness of the food we eat and we are trying to promote urban vegetable gardens and grow the awareness of the importance of educating children  about how to cultivate vegetables. 
    Another subject we are very alarmed about is the global financial system and its disastrous impact on the impoverishment of societies and the public systems. We organize debates and discussion and want to influence the thinking of the participants, knowing that the new thinking will result in concrete actions.

    Another key theme in our events calendar is personal development. We have numerous workshops on various issues.

    PWI – What kind of Leadership is important, what qualities do Leaders need today?
    Luc Simonet -It is most important that leaders learn to listen to the intelligence of their hearts. Leaders need to be our role models for this intelligence. I strongly believe in the power of living the example. 
    We also need to develop a stronger mindset of contribution and service towards others and the world as a whole. It is crucial that companies become the best for the world instead of the best of the world. One most important question is: to whom does the profit of companies go to? Today we have an insane concentration of richness in the hands of a very few. We believe that it is crucial to develop concepts and strategies to answer these questions in a more ethical way. It's also a question about avoiding a (certainly violent) revolution that might answer this question..

    PWI – As you did personally, many other professionals also encounter at one point of their career a "professional mid-life crisis". Even though they have had a successful career so far, at one point they are looking for more meaning in their professional life. What advice would you give to somebody who is in this situation?
    Luc Simonet - When you are not enthusiastic about your work anymore, it's a sign to change something in your life. There is the story of the three stonemasons: asked what he was doing the first replied, that he was cutting stones, the second one replied that he was helping to build a cathedral and the third one answered that he was contributing to a monument of glory for God. Which one do you think was more satisfied at work and doing the best job?
    So my advice is: If you feel that you are lacking enthusiasm: Change! Jump! Experience the free fall! When you are in free fall you have this incredible sensation of weightlessness and freedom. It is only when you put yourself in danger that you feel alive. At the same time you ask yourself: "What am I still scared of?” It is security that frightens us. Security makes us scared of losing what we own. So get out of your secure jobs, jump into insecurity and start living freely!

    Money is nothing but a driving force to build good and great things. For many of us, however, money has become a means to cover up our anxiety about the finiteness of our life. Unconsciously these persons believe that unlimited amounts of money can lead to infinite life...

    PWI – The "League of the Optimists" has over 4500 members in Belgium. What is the key of your success?

    Luc Simonet - I never thought in terms of success. There is no key to success. I even believe that if you are looking for a key to success you will miss it.
     I was just doing what I felt I had to do and success came gradually without searching for it. I experienced a lot of synchronicity and I have always paid a lot of attention to these moments. To state some examples, we needed to print a big amount of leaflets and brochures and we were short of money. Suddenly, I had a call from somebody who said he had read about the "League" and he thought we did a wonderful job and he wanted to contribute. He said that he was a paper salesman and we could have paper at a third of the price. Another time, I wanted to invite a writer for a speech but I did not have her phone number. As it happened, a couple of days later I talked to somebody who mentioned by the way that he was a relative of this writer and he handed me over the required phone number. So, I believe that these coincidences, which are such magic moments, are the proof that what we do is a good thing to do, and that is all I care about..

    PWI –  
    An optimistic last word for the current times of economic crisis...? 

    Luc Simonet - Find joy and satisfaction in your human relations and not in your possessions. Find fulfilment in being and not in having. Impoverishment will be an enrichment! It will force us to go back to our values.

    Luc, thank you very much for this interview !

    Short Biography
    Luc Simonet is a lawyer and founder and president of the "Ligue des Optimistes/Optimistenbond". The "League of the Optimists" Belgium is bilingual French/Dutch and has several sister groups in other European countries: Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Switzerland etc..
    You can find more information and the calendar of events on: or

  • 02 Apr 2012 04:10 | Deleted user

    The shape of our destiny and that of our daughters is in our own hands

    After the Oscar ceremony in Hollywood, all the media was talking about “the Artist” and the lack of enthusiasm - to say the least - the film had when it was projected for the first time. The critics were quite hostile and the film had almost no support. The Oscar is not a first for a French movie but still the tremendous recognition given by the Hollywood community warmed my French heart.

    They also mentioned the first Pakistani to win an Oscar and how she has been greeted with jubilation in her home country. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won the award for best documentary in the short subject category for her film “Saving Face”, about acid attacks on women.

    Now, you should be asking yourself: what the hell is she talking about? And why is she talking about movies?

    Because those examples are just showing that courage or some risk-taking and determination can bring you to where you want to be, despite what all the others are saying or thinking. Yes, it took some courage for Michel Hazanavicius to write and produce a black-and-white silent film in 2011. What will be the impact on society? May be not a lot, but at least it will have some repercussions for the French Cinema industry because it raises their profile.

    The documentary from Sharmeen and the Oscar she received has had a huge effect in Pakistan. It took her a lot of moral courage and conviction to make this documentary. She had to face criticism from fellow countrymen who did not want to bring global attention to their country’s problem of rampant abuse against women. When she came back, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has granted her the highest civil award. Her voice is now heard. A law named “The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention” was passed in 2011 but is not applied in some regions. The problem is now in the forefront of people’s minds and the focus will be put on the police investigations and the trials and sanctions against the attackers.

    It just shows that sometimes it needs a small kick for a ball to roll. It also shows that “we are not powerless; we are agents of change “as Valarie Khan, Chairperson of the Acid Survivors Foundation has stated.

    Coming back to our daily lives, when Mrs Viviane Reding launched (on March 1st, 2011) her “Women on the Board Pledge for Europe” it represented a voluntary commitment by publicly listed companies to increase women’s presence on corporate boards to 30% by 2015 and to 40% by 2020.

    The text was simple:” I pledge to reach the target of 30% of female board members by 2015 and 40% by 2020 by actively recruiting qualified women to replace outgoing male board members”. Rendezvous was given for the International Women’s day on March 8th, 2012.

    One year later the results are more than disappointing:  only 24 companies signed the pledge. I have been asked by journalists if I knew why? Unfortunately I don’t really have an answer and I am still struggling to find one that makes sense. Is it lack of courage from the boards? Do they really care? Was 30% too much? 2015 too soon? What is it? What can be the reason to put aside half of the talents? Half of the workforce?

    It is not only a matter of justice or even common sense. While more than 50% of the consumers (85% according to some studies) are women, how can the strategy of a company be complete without taking care of them? Well you may think that the files are well prepared and women have been involved sooner in the process! So why not let the final decision power in the hands of men?

    It is not only a matter of diversity; it is a matter of doing better business. Catalyst looked at the profitability of businesses and found that those with three or more women on the boards of directors did better in terms of return on sales, return on invested capital and return on equity than companies without women on their boards. See report .
    The common excuse is to say that there are not enough competent women to take the positions. Strangely enough, in the countries where quotas were enforced by law, boards could find enough women to fill the positions. To help companies and head hunters, a database of women ready for board positions will be built at the European level.
    Today women occupy only 13.7% of board seats in listed companies (EU-27) compared to 11.8% in 2010. The progress is too slow with a rising share of women on boards of 0.6% per year.  At this rate, it will take another 40 years or so before company boards comprise at least 40% of each gender. And a critical mass of 30% or more women is needed to cause a fundamental change in the boardroom and enhance corporate governance. So a big push for gender balance in business is necessary. We need to fight for it!

    Of course, compared to those acid attacks on women described in Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s documentary, this may seem a minor problem. Nevertheless, women’s right are not etched in stone! The young women and most of the older ones think the revolution is over.  They consider all the rights some women have fought for in the past as normal, obvious as if – of course- they were always there. We forget that women’s suffrage is still in its infancy. In most countries, the right to vote was given to women less than 100 years ago. “Given” is not the appropriate word.  Everywhere, women had to fight hard for years to obtain this fundamental right. It may seem obvious to us nowadays, but this right is not yet granted to women in every country. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, other rights like access to birth control and reproductive rights, the right to go to school and to work,…are still to be seen in a lot of places.  We usually think of foreign and underdeveloped countries, but it is much closer to us. I recently read a blog post from an angry women, as she called herself, Soraya Chemaly : “10 Reasons the Rest of the World Thinks the U.S. Is Nuts” It says it all.

    I am a strong believer in the power of example and I am sure that every single battle we win here in Europe benefits for all women in the world. We are their role models, so don’t disappoint them!

    A first step will be to contribute to the discussion launched by Mrs Reding. Talk about it in your workplace and your social circle. Present it to your managers, to your CEO and to your Board. Lets make a noise and start a movement. Disseminate the materials and reply to the public consultation.

    The deadline for replies is 28 May 2012. You can find the consultation here.
    For more information, you can read the full press release: IP/12/213 and the Press pack : WOMEN ON BOARDS.

    PWI will present its contribution to the consultation. If you want your ideas to be merged with us, send them to me
    Wishing to be overloaded with proposals,

    Best regards,

    Armelle Loghmanian

  • 22 Mar 2012 21:31 | Armelle Loghmanian

    EuropeanPWN AGM in Milan
        By Armelle Loghmanian


    At the end of February I went to Milan to represent PWI at the general assembly of EuropeanPWN. 
    As you can see, weather was not warmer nor sunnier than in Brussels at the same time. I could even see some snow too. So clearly, this part of the meeting was far from ideal. I should complain! But the rest was terrific! 

    The EuropeanPWN AGM is always an interesting and sharing event. Of course, like every AGM, you have to go through the official part: approval of previous minutes, discussion and approval of the annual accounts, approval of next year budget… This year we also had an election for new board members for 2012-2014.

    Previous and new board members of EuropeanPWN and City Networks presidents

    As you can see on the pictures below the board was almost totally renewed except for Marijo Bos, our president. 

    I am proud to announce that Adriana Paun, member of PWI advisory board was elected as the federation board as VP Women on Board.
    More information on the new board  members with their functions and their bios can be find here.   

     Previous EPWN board members  New EuropeanPWN Board members

    I could not find a group photo of the previous board. This splendid caricature was drawn by Rieke Smakman, a corporate and commercial litigator, EuropeanPWN previous Secretary General. Applause for the special talent she has!

    It is also a unique opportunity to share and learn with presidents from other city networks and meet with the federation board. It is always reassuring to see we share the same issues or concerns and are going in the same directions. Some of the hot topics discussed: Engaging men, Mentoring, WOB, entrepreneurs involvement… 

    Best practices are shared and I hope the executive team and I can put some of them in place rapidly.

    EPWN : Now 21 City Networks

    On October 20th, 2011 the 20th city network was launched in Warsaw, Poland

    On March 7th 2012, EuropeanPWN London and  Bucharest co-hosted a webex celebrating the launch of our newest network in Romania and an interview with Siobhan Martin, Partner at Mercer and EPWN Corporate Partner. Siobhan talked about the value of networking across cultures and the positive impact volunteering can have on your leadership style. To view the webex click here.

    So as you can see, things are moving at the federation level and the platform is under review and will undergo major improvements. I know few of us are using it on a regular basis, but it is a tremendous tool. In order to take advantage from this powerful resource, remember to:
            • upload your photo, so that women who have met you at an event and maybe don’t recall your name can easily find you on the platform,
           • complete your bio, let us know what you do and how we can connect, network and support each other
           • update your bio, you’ve changed job or reached a new challenging position or have been appointed to a board…let your peers know! 
    And dont forget to do the same on the PWI web site too!
  • 07 Dec 2011 00:07 | Deleted user

    “Recruiting is clearly a job for senior managers …”

    Interview by Alessandra Zocca

    Alessandro Molinaroli, Senior Manager at ERIC SALMON & PARTNERS - Milan .

    PWI – Mr. Molinaroli, how do you define "talent"?
    Mr. Molinaroli – Talent is an opportunity that individuals may decide to exploit (or not) to further develop their contribution to the overall growth of themselves and the community they belong to (a company, in most cases, but also a local community). In this respect, a talented person is not “doomed” to use his or her talent but has the freedom to decide if and how to use his/her talent. For this very reason, I am convinced that pledges and personal initiative to use talent are strictly individual and can only be marginally influenced by the external environment.
    All the literature about the war for talents has to be reviewed, in this light, as organizations can, in the best possible case, shape an environment which favors and promotes the individual use of talents. In other terms, you cannot oblige Lionel Messi (*) to be Messi, but FC Barcelona (football) did its best in order to help Messi use his talents at best.

    Alessandro, is “leadership” a talent in your opinion?
    Mr. Molinaroli - Leadership is a talent, as it envisages a higher than average ability to:
    a) generate consensus around ideas brought about by an individual
    b) to convince others to follow these ideas.
    So, communication and “steering, guidance” are key to shaping and exerting effective leadership. Unfortunately, despite a flood of literature and education about leadership, business as well as politics seems to have less of this talent than in the past. The present Euro crisis is more than anything else a leadership crisis and the same concept can be applied to business, where mantras have been followed without any critical attitude.
    Business leaders, like Enrico Mattei – the founder of ENI, the largest Italian company, or Steve Jobs are first and foremost those who go beyond evidence (a big oil & gas company in Italy, a country without natural resources?) and common thinking (icons as the easiest way to define ideas and concepts) That is why they last forever, while others quickly fade away from our memory.
    Anyway, just a few leaders are more than enough: followers are, in this respect, at least as important as leadership. Too many leaders are an indication of entropy: what a real leader must do is to identify his “successors” and provide them with the support needed to lead the transition. Ideally, it is exactly what Jesus did with the Apostles in order to ensure the most effective transition from him to his “earthly” organisation, which is the Church.

    Scouting for, attracting, selecting and recruiting the "right" and talented people is a crucial and vital process for a company, isn't it?
    Why then - often - do companies assign these responsibilities to employees with a lower seniority position and age? Don't you think that ensuring the company has the optimum human resources to fulfill the vision should be a responsibility of senior management?

    Mr. Molinaroli - Recruiting is clearly a job for senior managers, they are the only ones who have the maturity and the experience needed to assess people, without being influenced too much by appearance. Of course, junior assistants are useful in the preliminary screening, but should not be entrusted with the final decision.

    Which are nowadays the key factors of recruitment?
    Mr. Molinaroli - Key factor is industry and functional knowledge and “hands on” experience. Companies are focusing on those candidates who are more likely to deliver results.

    Which are the key competencies, qualities and professional background of the best recruiters?
    Mr. Molinaroli - Best recruiters are those who are able to “read the mind” of candidates, having of course in mind the kind of “book” (i.e. company) the candidate should write.

    Which are the differences between recruiting as Head Hunter/ interim or within the company ?
    Mr. Molinaroli - Head hunters (or better ‘executive search consultants’) and internal recruiters work at their best when they work together. Head hunters know the labor market and the expectations of candidates much better than internal recruiters do. On the other hand, these latter know the company’s actual needs much better than the head hunters do. Therefore sharing information is the key to ensuring successful recruiting.

    How has recruitment evolved in the last few years (in terms of relevance, globalisation, organisation structure, processes)? How, in your opinion, will recruitment evolve in the next ten years?
    Mr. Molinaroli - Recruiting has changed a lot over the last 10 years. It is now a more competitive process, with a significant amount of searches being “disintermediated”, i.e. managed by companies using key people in the business community and leveraging on social networks.
    However, the new tools and media will never be able to replace the ability to advise and run comparative assessment which is inherent in the executive search process.

    In the light of the EU Parliament resolution regarding women quotae, how do you envisage the impact on recruitment?
    Mr. Molinaroli - Women quotae are beginning to impact the recruiting process, as companies are more open and willing to recruit women. However, I do believe that an equal opportunity employer should never differentiate on the basis of gender.
    However, I do believe that overemphasizing, a sort of “compensation by law” for fewer opportunities given to women in the past, will be of little help for women themselves, as some people could even believe that some women are making career in the boardroom because they are women and not because they are clever managers.

    (*) Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi is an Argentine footballer who plays for FC Barcelona and captains the Argentinan national team. Messi received several Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations by the age of 21, and won in 2009 and 2010. His playing style and ability have drawn comparisons to Diego Maradona, who himself declared Messi as his "successor."

      Short Biography
    Alessandro Molinaroli is currently Senior Manager at ERIC SALMON & PARTNERS – Milano.

    He gained a Degree in Business Administration with a specialisation in Organisation Design at the one of the most prestigious Italian universities, Università Commerciale “L.Bocconi” – Milan

    Previously his career has developed through working in the following positions:
    •    Contract Professor of Organisational Systems at the University of BERGAMO – Faculty of Engineering
    •    Senior Manager - CMS Division (Change Management Services) with ANDERSEN CONSULTING (now ACCENTURE) - Milan
    •    Senior Manager at CONSIEL (Telecom Italia Group) – Milan and Rome  
    •    Hired within the High Fliers Program at BANCA COMMERCIALE ITALIANA – Milan

    Disclaimer - Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of ERIC SALMON & PARTNERS – Milano, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.
  • 06 Dec 2011 14:55 | Deleted user

    Globalisation, gender and generational gaps will be hard challenges for recruitment

    Interview by Alessandra Zocca

    Chiara Mancardi, Associate at b-management, leader in Belgium in interim and transition management.

    Chiara, how do you define "talent"?
    Ms. Mancardi – Let me first go to my “old dictionary” definition of talent, before defining talent in the perspective of recruitment and talent management: “Talent is a group of aptitudes that are useful for some activities. Aptitudes are innate components of a competency as opposed – for instance – to knowledge and understanding, that can be learned; or acquired abilities to do a certain kind of work and at a certain level. Aptitudes may be physical or mental and the innate nature of aptitudes is in contrast to achievement, which represents knowledge or abilities that are gained”
    I would like to emphasise that, even if aptitudes are innate, this does not mean that they do not need to be worked upon. I like the quote “talent, like oil, needs to be refined”. Let’s take the example of sculptors, who have inside themselves the image and the shape they want to create, but have to use their knowledge to choose the appropriate materials according to their properties, plasticity, rigidity and so on..

     Chiara, sorry to interrupt you, is “leadership” a talent in your opinion?
    Ms. Mancardi – Leadership to me is a mixture of things: it is not black and white; it is always related to a group of individuals, where some individuals stand out for their charisma, ability to convince others, uniting people around projects, communication, empathy and creativity. To a certain degree these elements come naturally to these outstanding individuals, but they have also refined and improved their natural skills.
    Who are the top leaders in the business environment nowadays? Most of them have strong ethics and values, coherence in and outside the business environment, and compromise only on the small and unimportant details. This is my very personal view.

    … back to talent and talent management …
    Ms. Mancardi – Yes, talent management … Different organisations may assume different interpretations, for instance managing highly paid individuals (stars, top performers) or it can mean how talent is managed (based on the assumption that all people have talents that can be identified and developed).
    In the perspective of recruiting, the challenge is to match the demand with the supply of talent available at the time.
    Talent management means also defining a map of where talents – not in terms of individuals, but in terms of skills and capabilities - are, meaning in which functions in the company. It includes understanding whether talents are being used to their full potential, and also to identify potential talent and talent shortages in line with the company’s future objectives..

    Scouting for, attracting, selecting and recruiting the "right" and talented people is a crucial and vital process for a company, isn't it?
    Why then - often - do companies assign these responsibilities to employees with a lower seniority position and age? Don't you think that ensuring the company has the optimum human resources to fulfill the vision should be a responsibility of senior management?

    Ms. Mancardi – Interesting question, Alessandra, there are several factors to consider. The age of the recruiter is not per se the issue; skills can be easily and factually assessed and selected, while attitudes and talent require, on the contrary, a contextual evaluation. The issue is rather the involvement level in the selection process of the right management, who has to take the final responsibility for the choice.
    A distinction has to be made between routine recruitment for high volume positions and strategic talent recruiting. To be provocative, I say that we need to give space to young HR people, who have to start practicing in order to learn (hopefully supported by a supervisor who know the business and has operational experience).  In routine recruitment it is appropriate to assign young recruiters who are able to apply the recruitment processes and tools. It is not appropriate in cases where critical skills/abilities are required and here your point, Alessandra, is relevant. 

    Which are nowadays the key factors of recruitment?
    Ms. Mancardi – One key factor is the correct usage of the technology available nowadays to treat information, I give you a parallel example: of course it is not because you have the best CRM tool that you are a good salesman. HR recruitment tools are impressive, help recruiters sift through tons of data efficiently to identify the best candidates; it makes sense to use these tools, but the key factor is to use them correctly. In other words there is a difference between having access to large volumes of information and how you use that information; using the information requires the ability to read between the lines on a cv and to match the right candidate to the position.

    From the job seeker’s point of view, it’s not so long ago (I still recall it myself) that people looking for a job used to buy the papers at the weekend, screen the job offers, prepare a pile of letters, post them and wait for a reply.   Today, with internet/technology looking for a job is a daily task, a full time occupation as a matter of fact.

    The second key fact is quite obvious and it is the successful match between supply and demand.
    The third factor, which clearly indicates that recruiting should not be seen in isolation, is that the company has defined the right offer for the right candidate: job content, function and the salary package have to be in line with the market and tuned to match the expectations of the target population.
    The recruitment might have been done perfectly and the match is correct, but if the right retention elements are not in place, then the selected candidate remains with the company for only two months and this recruitment is no longer a success. The company might have done the appropriate actions to be visible and attract candidates, but if behind the scenes there are problems they will not be able to retain staff; merely showing the “carrot” does not work, companies need to actually fulfill expectations if they are to retain their most valuable staff. 
    One more factor is that profiles must be conceived and defined in a medium/long-term perspective according to the company goals.

    Which are the key competencies, qualities and professional background of the best recruiters?
    Ms. Mancardi – HR people, so also recruiters, need to be reliable business partners for the other functions in the company. This means that recruiters are not just expected to find candidates, but to play an advisory role regarding the recruitment needs.
    In terms of background it would mean that a senior recruiter or head of the recruitment team should have experience of the working practices of the company and a solid knowledge of its business.
    Specific required qualities are:

    •    Psychological insight, strong business acumen, business intelligence
    •    A certain degree of creativity in identifying potential resources pools and different recruitment solutions
    •    Ability to read between the lines of the of the cv to reveal the real contribution that the individual will bring to the company.
    •    It is crucial for a recruiter to have developed and to keep updated his/her social and professional network.

    Which are the differences between recruiting as Head Hunter/ interim or within the company ?
    Ms. Mancardi – The major difference for a Head Hunter, compared to a recruiter in the company is that external recruiters need additional skills: first of all the ability to quickly understand the client company and their needs (good consultants are skilled in rapidly acquiring and understanding information and the characteristics of the environment). Equally important is the ability to extract from the given information the requirements of the job position now and how it could evolve in the future, which is necessary in order to find a candidate who will be able to cope.
    Secondly, Head Hunters have to get and keep the trust of their clients through efficient and successful matches. Thirdly, they need marketing and sales capabilities (selling their services, selling the position to the candidate, selling the best candidate to the company).

    How has recruitment evolved in the last few years (in terms of relevance, globalisation, organisation structure, processes)? How, in your opinion, will recruitment evolve in the next ten years?
    Ms. Mancardi – There have been three main changes in the business environment and in the role of HR management in the companies.
    The lack of continuity and the speed of change in the business world, which have dramatically reduced the length of economic cycles and which make it difficult to forecast the changes and their impact, require increased business agility and different leadership models. The globalization phenomenon - with flat structures, large teams and geographically remote teams - requires global talents. The modern technologies allow companies to have access to the same resources; companies need to become attractive for the candidates, especially when there is a resource scarcity (few candidates have the innovative technical skills taught in few universities or demographic issues meaning there are not enough good candidates).
    These changes have challenged and influenced the evolution of HR teams more in their work methods and habits than in the organisational asset/structure of the HR function itself.
    In the future HR should be covering a more and more strategic role in the company processes, earning more credibility and enabling them to take their place in the Boardroom. The skill of recruiters will be to contribute in defining more “meaningful” jobs, “cooler” companies to be able to fulfill the candidates’ expectations and retain them. Borderless organisations, gender and generational gaps will be hard challenges.

    In the light of the EU Parliament resolution regarding women quotae, how do you envisage the impact on recruitment?
    Ms. Mancardi – Maybe I do not have the full picture, but personally I think that quotas – dealing with gender diversity - have to be treated in the same way as “diversity” is managed in the company. From one angle quotas might accelerate women’s access to the Board, but it has to be taken into account that there will be differences across sectors, because there are types of jobs and environments that favour one gender over the other. The real question is whether women are ready to dedicate to their profession the required energy to progress to the top: if they have the potential, they have to fully accept the battle. In order to succeed in the battle women need to strengthen their capabilities and skills, for instance:
    • Behavior and leadership style
    • Communication
    • Ability to prioritise and delegate (sorry, but I have seen a number of women overloaded because of a resistance to delegate to others)
    • Networking at professional and social level
    • Improve their work/life balance, which is indeed a matter of logistics and organisation; work/life balance should no longer be an issue for women close to the board level, because their salaries allow them to acquire all the services (schools, baby-sitters, home support, etc.).
    Last but not least, if the quotae resolution will not obtain a clear social and political commitment, it will lose the effect to trigger the aimed equality and will risk becoming one of “those laws”. In terms of impact on recruitment I believe that there are two main risks: sub-optimisation of the match and potential reverse discrimination. If the company must take into account the fact that having a female candidate is preferable, then the selection is done in two sub-groups (male and female), which does not provide the same effectiveness of screening as one single pool.

      Short Biography
    Chiara joined B-management in 2009. As well as leading international assignments in sales and marketing, Chiara also oversees B-management’s web presence, developing internet-based approaches and tools to better serve the firm’s client base and candidate pool. 
    B-management has been awarded the  HR Excellence Awards 2011 as best
    Interim Management company.
    Prior to her arrival at B-management Chiara was an International Product Manager for StepStone, a leading provider of online career management services.
    Chiara honed her marketing skills in the automotive industry (General Motors Europe), where she also increased her experience in Brand and Product management. She later joined an international publishing company (Wolters Kluwer) where she progressed through several marketing and sales positions, ultimately focusing on internet services targeting logistics industry professionals.
    Chiara holds an MBA from the Solvay Brussels School of Management & Economics (ULB) and a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from the University of Torino (Italy).


    Disclaimer - Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of B-Management, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.
  • 01 Dec 2011 10:49 | Deleted user

    Recruitment? A matter of speed and Quality
    Interview by Alessandra Zocca


    Salvatore Maranto, HR Manager Italy & Spain at SPX, part of SPX Corporation, a Fortune 500 multi-industry manufacturing leader that provides its customers with highly-specialized, engineered solutions to solve critical business issues.

    PWI – Salvatore, how do you define "talent"?
    Mr. Maranto - “Talent”  is the flair in an individual able to quickly bring about impressive results  and innovation, through a “magic” mix of: management skills, technical-functional skills, personal qualities and stamina, commitment and values.

    PWI – Salvatore, in your opinion, is “leadership” a talent?
    Mr. Maranto - Leadership may be a component of a talented person.  Actually, talented people do not necessarily need to be leaders, as they can develop their talent in several different ways (technical, commercial, administrative, etc.).

    PWI - Scouting for, attracting, selecting and recruiting the "right" and talented people is a crucial and vital process for a company, isn't it?
    Why then - often - do companies assign these responsibilities to employees with a lower seniority position and age? Don't you think that ensuring the company has the optimum human resources to fulfill the vision should be a responsibility of senior management?

    Mr. Maranto - Senior managers have the right experience to perform an effective selection, unfortunately recruiting and selecting potential candidates is a time consuming process especially in cases of high volume and HR Directors/Managers need to delegate to their team members, who often haven’t gained the adequate expertise in selection techniques and tools and have a limited knowledge of the company business.  In SPX, we ensure that our employees (regardless of age or  seniority) are given the correct tools to be able to effectively short list the right talent. We run effective hiring courses across EMEA to help HR and Hiring Managers choose the most appropriate talents.  In some cases HR Directors choose to assign recruitment to external  head hunters or specialized companies, incurring in higher costs and – sorry to say that – questionable quality results.

    Which are nowadays the key factors of recruitment?
    Mr. Maranto – There are currently two main factors: speed and quality.  In our company we have set time ranges for recruitment and these time frames are shrinking more and more: 40 days for high responsibility job positions and 20 days for lower level jobs.  The other factor – quality – is a must: the direct and indirect costs of a wrong recruitment  can be very high, which is why we spend a lot of time during the early stages of recruitment to get the right people on our short list.

    Which are the key competencies, qualities and professional background of the best recruiters?
    Mr. Maranto – Taking into account the necessary differences between recruiting for a high position or for a low job, I strongly believe that recruiters need the following competencies:
    •    Know the company business deeply
    •    Understand how each function contributes to the company success
    •    Live the company culture and be fully aware of “written and unwritten” company rules
    •    Interact successfully with the functions/the team leaders in order to build together the correct profile of the position being recruited to
    •    Master the relationship with Head Hunters and stakeholders
    •    Master social media  both actively (highlight your own company in every social medium to create a positive and attractive image on the labor market ) and passively (publish a job offer and wait for candidate replies)
    •    Know all the interview techniques  to spot candidates competencies, qualities and motivation; develop the emotional intelligence to help select talent, or rely upon external psychology experts to  identify candidates’ psychological profiles
    •    Sell/market your company to valuable and suitable candidates
    •    Market/sell the most suitable/valuable candidates to the hiring functions
    •    Become an expert of the labor market and be up-to-date with the salary/benefit package trend for each relevant professional profile
    •    Master the legislation of your relevant labor market.
    Based on the above requirements, it is clear that the optimal recruiter profile – for positions from middle to top management - includes a high professional expertise/background and “seniority” (meaning years of business experience and specific expertise).

    Which are the differences between recruiting as Head Hunter/ interim or within the company ?
    Mr. Maranto – Interim management recruiting is more complex than it looks, but for some reasons  if a company uses interim staff, this is seen as less critical then hiring permanent staff for the job. Based on my experience Interim Recruitment agencies tend to be too expensive in relation to the quality they offer, at least in Italy. We normally keep in house the recruitment of middle management to high positions, but for the top business critical jobs we consult with our internal Talent Sourcing function who specialize in executive level positions. In those cases the commitment to excellence is maximum and both the HR Director and the Functional Directors are fully involved.

    How has recruitment evolved in recent years (in terms of relevance, globalisation, organisation structure, processes)?
    Mr. Maranto – The globalization phenomenon has also impacted the area of recruitment: it means both extending recruitment to international labor markets and spotting out local candidates with proven international experience, background, culture and mind-set. In the last few years  I have also remarked that there is in recruiting a parallel trend to the business arena trend: more and more sense of urgency, quality as a “must” and a consequent war for talents.

    How, in your opinion, will recruitment evolve in the next ten years?
    Mr. Maranto – I would envisage two main streams: a further development of recruitment tools based on the social media – unfortunately Italy is behind Europe - and the reinforcing of “word of mouth” on the other side. Retaining employee loyalty to the company will surely be one of the greatest future challenges, above all in companies where the excellence of employees’ technical competencies is the basis for business growth. The key factor, then, is rather to develop and retain the most skilled people than hiring and laying off according to business ups and downs.

    In the light of the EU Parliament resolution regarding women quotae, how do you envisage the impact on recruitment?
    Mr. Maranto - In the short term I do not envisage any significant impact. I guess that companies will continue to hire female or male employees according to their culture and to the competencies availability. In our company we have never made any gender discrimination, we have always successfully hired, and will continue to bring on board, the right person for the job, irrespective of their gender.

      Short Biography
    Born in Milan (Italy) in 1964, Mr. Maranto graduated in Business Administration at the Bocconi University (Milan.) He first joined Accenture (where he worked in the Change Management practice on various assignments in Italy, Germany, Turkey, USA), then Unisys Italy (where he worked as HR Business Partner) and finally SPX Italy, where he covers the position of HR Manager Italy & Spain.
    SPX Corporation is a Fortune 500 multi-industry manufacturing leader with 15,000 employees in more than 35 countries worldwide, with a product portfolio that includes cooling systems for power plants, food processing systems, process equipment that assists a variety of flow processes, and diagnostic tools that aid in vehicle maintenance and repair.
    Salvatore Maranto
    HR manager
    SPX Service Solutions Europe

    Disclaimer - Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SPX Italy, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software