Catherine, a french communications consultant in Milan

For years I have been involved with the Professional Women Association (PWA) in Milan. It was founded in the ’80s by women who had moved to Italy with their husbands/partners /boyfriends or for work and wanted a place where they could meet up for social and cultural purposes and to have support in their day to day and professional lives. This is where I met Catherine.

Catherine is from France and after studying and working for a period she set-up her own consultancy company in the PR / Corporate communication sector in Milan. She had been working as a communications consultant for 14 years, essentially on her own, but using colleagues for specific projects when necessary.

Marketing 01

... I understood that there was a period in my life before I got to Italy and another one after that. The choice of leaving my own country was very important in professional terms.

After I finished my degree in Italy I thought that I no longer wanted to do menial jobs and that the time had come to really kick-start my career. I thought about my experience as a journalist and I thought that PR was quite a logical choice (I couldnt write Italian as well as a native, so journalism was not an option). I sent some CVs and I had interviews before I started working for an agency. When this experience ended– because there wasnt enough work … I lost my job and had to start again from scratch.

PWA was a great help to me: I learned many things about the labour market, and it really allowed me to see things in a new light. This is how I thought about finding the resources to help me work on a freelance basis.

I took part in a competition organised by the Chamber of Commerce of Milan that helped me prepare a business plan, and as I progressed in this process I met professionals, including a consultant who became a real mentor for me. My project ended up coming second and I was awarded a free grant. I took the big plunge - I have to say that my own personal experience that began in Paris, then continued with my Italian degree and work experience has given me quite a lot of belief in myself. It seemed achievable.

In 2008 the crisis struck. My main customer went bankrupt and that was a major blow. I asked a coach to help me. This period of coaching proved to be very important for me becoming a consultant as opposed to a freelance worker who occasionally had a customer as boss. I redesigned both how I marketed myself and my way of being.

Throughout all these processes I always had the support of my husband and family as well as many of my professional contacts. In Milan I found a real entrepreneurial culture that was of great help to me. The perception of my business from friends and people I know has been very positive (and I think it is very different to what it would have been like in France).

I have a great deal of belief in the strength of the network because on a personal level it gave me a great deal. The help of a mentor, knowing how to ask for help and even coaching – when you work on your own like me - can be a fundamental tool at key moments of your professional development as it enables you to focus on certain areas that need to be improved”.


About the consultant
Cristina Gianotti
Cristina Gianotti si occupa da oltre quindici anni di Coaching - Career, Executive e Business Coaching – a supporto di: manager, professionisti, imprenditori interessati a investire su stessi e sulla propria crescita professionale. Viene da un background di consulenza direzionale, management e imprenditoria. Nel 2016 ha pubblicato il suo primo libro "E' facile cambiare lavoro se sai come fare" con bookabook. Nel 2018 il suo secondo sul networking: "Connecting Dots: il networking, questo sconosciuto".



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