PWA Milan President Roberta Toniolo is one of the high professional mentors involved in the “Workstream 3” mentoring program. Workstream 3 is dedicated to MBA students attending some of the most known international Business Schools in Europe such as SDA Bocconi, INSEAD and Vlerick.
Roberta graduated in applied mathematics at the State University of Milan. She has completed training in strategy and business at the London Business School. Her career has developed in big American and European companies in the IT industry (Honeywell, Bull, Logica, Oracle) working in several lines of business. After starting out in research and development and IT consultancy, she experienced several years in marketing and sales where she held key international management positions.
We asked her about her experience in the Me-Totem Project.

PWA Milan has promoted and leads the Me-Totem in all the European Countries involved in the project: which of PWN goals do you want to reach with this project?
Me-Totem is perfectly in line with the strategy and goal of PWA-Milan: to affect gender gap debate, to provide women with the tools, networks and support resources they need to assume leadership.
With Me-totem Project, PWA contributes to the EU Commission strategy, which encompasses a number of interventions toward gender equality, and we are very proud of an opportunity that recognizes PWA’s competences and good practices about this issue.

What does “being a mentor” mean for you?
It is a great experience, during my professional life I have always done mentoring, even not in this formal way. However I never had the opportunity of being mentor for MBA students, I am testing what literature says about millennia, their values and their expectations.
I make available to them my experience and have back a good and honest view of young women generation expectation and concerns.

What are the expectations of the mentees? What kind of advices are they looking for?
What mentees appreciate is the openness to share the mentor’s experience; they look for a woman role model they can refer to.

You always worked in the technology field: what were the obstacles you had to face during your career? Which are the main skills a woman must get to make it in this industry?
The big corporations and players of this industry are US based, technology evolves very rapidly and the marker requires continually innovation.
Women in the big corporation have, in theory, the same opportunity that men, however the industry is still dominated by men and the women in tech are the minority.
Having said that, I think that women in tech have to be prepared to be alone among male pears, as consequence they have to be self-confident, ready to take risks, good communicators, with strong competences. Flexibility, openness to different culture, are required as well.

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