FOCUS | Infl uential industry women Fabiana Scavolini, CEO, Scavolini Q & A

Q: As a family business, were you destined to take a role at Scavolini or was it a personal choice? A: Scavolini was perhaps always destined to be a business that involves the whole family, as it was founded in 1961 by two brothers – Valter, my father, and Elvino Scavolini. It was inevitable, therefore, that it formed a big part of my life from a young age. Even before I took an active role, I was aware of the changes and developments of the company and it always seemed a natural progression that I would join the family fi rm. After graduating in economics in 1995, I began working in the marketing department. And this journey is true for many members of my family – I’m happy to say that the third generation is now joining us.

Q: Even though you are a family member, was it still a challenge to get to the position of CEO? A: My path to CEO has been driven by learning everything there is to know about the company. Firstly from my father Valter Scavolini, but also from all members of the family working in the company. I started out in the sales and marketing department and gradually worked my way up, taking on more

responsibility as my knowledge of the business grew. I became director of sales and marketing in 2000, and was appointed CEO in 2012. It has felt like a linear route through the company – but one where I am always learning and growing.

Q: Where does Scavolini stand on gender equality? A: At Scavolini, it’s no exaggeration to say that our people are our most important resource. If it wasn’t for the individual personalities of the men and women who work together in all areas of the company, we wouldn’t have the business that exists today. As such, we have always believed in gender equality and this is backed up with a range of programmes that ensure we have an inclusive workplace for all our employees. Woven into our culture is a commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion so that everyone at Scavolini can feel respected, valued and able to give their best.

Q: Why do you think there are so few women in senior roles across the KBB industry? A: I think this comes down to historical bias in the kitchen and bathroom sector. There used to be a widely held perception that there were technical jobs in our industry that only men could do. Women all over the industry have shown that

There used to be a

widely held perception that there were

technical jobs in our industry that only men could do. Women all over the industry have shown that this

categorically isn’t true

this categorically isn’t true. I think as the KBB sector continues to evolve in the future, there will be more space for female leadership as well.

Q: As a woman, what do you believe you bring to a kitchen and bathroom brand like Scavolini? A: Firstly, a good sense of teamwork. I believe we are all more motivated and effective when we operate a team. That’s how I see Scavolini – a

team of people working to a shared goal.

Next, I bring an ability


mediate. There is always a way to fi nd our way through any adversity and the quieter approach is often the right one. A good CEO must be able to

appreciate the feelings and

opinions of others. Finally, I bring a clarity of vision for the business coupled with an ability to multitask. This is an advantage in a job where no two days are the same.

Raffaela De Vittorio, sales director, Geberit UK

and starting out on my T

career path, I asked one smart, well-respected, middle-aged senior executive in the industry why he thought there were so few women in top roles within the industry.

The answer he gave me was: “Dealing with installers and technical products isn’t something women enjoy.” Now, he didn’t elaborate on why that would be the case, but he left me with the clear impression that the industry wasn’t suited to women. Most of us know full well why women are less likely to be invited to sit on the top table to shape an organisation. There continues to be a distinct lack of talent management that is fully inclusive and while these days many more women have confi dently moved into middle management, their hard-earned success and status can crumble the moment that personal circumstances in life change. Society still expects women to shoulder the lion’s share of child and elderly care. Paternity leave is nothing more than a ‘quick break’ and one needs to just look at the ongoing crisis to get a full picture of how gender stereotyping negatively affects women’s


wenty years ago, when I was fresh from


opportunities to this day. A more inclusive and fl exible approach would not only support women in business, but allow men to redefi ne their priorities, creating a wider, more balanced and contented talent pool. Times are changing but projections estimate that it

will take another 50+ years before gender equality at board level is achieved. It’s the responsibility of both those men and women at the top who can change the status quo by redefi ning business goals and policies, shifting the focus from short- term to long-term gain. Clearly, I didn’t let the views of the senior executive all those years ago stop me from pursuing a career in this great industry and luckily for me I found myself reporting to Mark Larden [MD, Geberit UK] – one of those senior executives who chooses to challenge the status quo. Including Mark, there are seven of us on the Geberit board and three of us are women. Could this diverse team be the secret of our success? It’s no doubt a signifi cant contributor. I often read about the unique qualities that women bring to the boardroom. We’re supposedly great team players, com - passionate, supportive, overfl owing with emotional intelligence and we boast circular vision. Personally, I think all of these qualities can be found in men too. Just as women can be powerful, analytical, challengers of the status quo, tough, and so on. Any leader of a successful organisation will benefi t from having a wide range of

leadership qualities and experiences within their team to help eradicate blind spots and to widen the business horizon. That is simply why one shouldn’t rule out 50% of the population.

A balanced leadership reaches the hearts and minds of the entire workforce. It’s motivating and motivation makes for a high achieving team.

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