Simona Maggini reflects on the year from the perspective of her dual roles as CEO of VMLY&R Italy and WPP Italy country manager
Years from now, it seems like everyone will have their own personal 2020 story to tell. And while many of the same factors impacted on people across the globe, every person and business will have navigated them in different ways.
Simona Miaggini’s 2020 story is unique. The VMLY&R Italy CEO has led her agency through the Covid emergency with confidence, winning new business and overseeing campaigns that respond to the world we’ve found ourselves in with aplomb.
She’s also taken on a drastically different role as WPP Italy’s country manager. This means jumping from a 100-employee-strong advertising agency to leadership across over 2,000 employees across 55 companies in every communications area, from media to CRM and data management.
LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with Simona to reflect on the year with her and look forward to her 2021.
LBB> Big question, but how are you feeling about 2020, looking back on it?
Simona> I have mixed feelings about 2020: partly tired and concerned as the Covid emergency is still present, partly proud and satisfied about how we managed this whole thing with team spirit, resilience and infinite energy.
LBB> When we last spoke, it was about the successful run of pitching that VMLY&R Italy had been on in the spring. How has the 'fighting spirit' you spoke about then continued into the summer and autumn?
Simona> Honestly this second wave of lockdown was a bit more challenging and we struggled to leave the sort of summer freedom behind, going back to the remote working and facing a long winter. Nevertheless the reaction of the agency was amazing this time as well and we made our way through new clients, pitches and great projects.
LBB> What else have you been particularly proud of this year about VMLY&R?
Simona> On a global level very important decisions have been made and very sensible ones. We are thrilled and excited about the future! I am very proud of how the global and regional management have been communicating with us making us feel part of something meaningful.
LBB> You were recently appointed as WPP Italy country manager, jumping from leading an agency with around 100 employees to more than 2,000. How have you found that shift?
Simona> It’s a completely different job than running an operation. I’ve found the combination of two diverse challenges very fulfilling. The WPP role is more about facilitating and supporting all the agencies and work-streams, making sure alignment and coordination are properly managed. We are heading to the new WPP Campus in Milan, where more than 2,000 people will co-work, co-create and co-design a whole new experience for ourselves, our clients and our community.
LBB> You've also broadened the scope of areas of advertising you look after of course, beyond advertising to media, PR, events, data etc. What have you discovered in making that transition?
Simona> The main learning is that increasing complexity requires a lean approach. As agencies we need to make it simple and effective. This requires a lot of focus and rock solid strategic marketing background and understanding.
LBB> You're the first woman to lead Italy's biggest comms group. How would you describe the state of gender diversity in Italy's industry right now and how is it changing?
Simona> I see a lot has been changing over the past few years and I don’t believe we have an issue to solve, just a deeper evolution in terms of D&I as a key asset for our business.
LBB> WPP Italy recently hosted a forum, ‘Social Responsibility of Communication to Relaunch the Country’ - what were the big takeaways from that?
Simona> We need to celebrate more of what we do, believe more in our capabilities as a country and regain pride. The main promoters of Italy need to be Italians in the first place.