Dancing out Miracles - Realising female dreams Daniela Riccardi, President of Greater China, P&G, shares her growth experiences with other female professionals

Editor’s note: “Always maintain a feminine temperament and bearing; try to find out more about the world; never give up on your dreams, and do the things you love.” This article is about Daniela Riccardi, President of Greater China, P&G; a lover of dance; wife; mother; successful manager; and a woman who, on many different stages, dances with grace and beauty, capturing respect and admiration. How does this charismatic woman successfully take on so many different roles on so many different stages in such an effortless fashion? Here, Daniela Riccardi shares with us her experiences, encouraging other female professionals to realise their dreams and dance for their own miracles.

To my dear female colleagues:

Many have asked for my thoughts on Chinese female professionals. My answer is that this century belongs to China, especially to the women of China. Chinese women are clever, beautiful and intelligent. They are excellent at learning new things. Their greatest advantage is having been born in a nation that has now become the focal point of the world, a nation full of change and opportunity. As native Chinese, they have a solid understanding of Chinese culture and an open mind to the world. This is incredibly valuable. I therefore want to encourage them to realise their dreams, because I am certain that they will excel.

On the value of women

In an increasingly globalised economic environment, I believe female professionals should first respect and understand the importance of sexual plurality, and recognize the value of women.

I began my over-20-year career in P&G in 1985. P&G is a company that advocates diversity and respects sexual plurality. As an Italian woman having worked in Western Europe, Latin America and Eastern Europe, and is now working in China at P&G, I have accumulated a wealth of working experience in a variety of working environments, which have helped my self development and increased my understanding of gender diversity.

At the same time, female professionals must recognize their own value. This will help us identify our position in society, allowing us to work and live with confidence. Working with men allows women to add colour and perspective in their outlook, allowing them to reach even more innovative business decisions. You may have discovered that female professionals are particularly adept at cooperating, keeping the peace, communicating and building networks of mutual assistance. They can analyse more situations, taking into account more variables and specifics. In particularly heated competitive arenas, the presence of women can even help to maintain peace and order. Over half of P&G China’s employees are women, while 35% of management positions are held by women. They have become increasingly successful over the years. The company has worked toward providing even more opportunities and policies to enable women in the workplace to succeed. In fact, the first general manager trained by P&G in China is a woman.

Please remember that women and men are very different – we possess different strengths. We should try not to accomplish things that are unobtainable, becoming like a man, for instance. In fact, our intuition and willingness to co-operate can help us achieve good performances. Companies that hire, retain and actively motivate female workers will be richly rewarded.

On everyday life and work

During interviews, reporters have raised the point that many colleagues have expressed regrets about their dating and personal lives upon achieving professional success. To me, your life is like a horse. You need to keep riding it, never passing the reins to anyone else. As for life outside of work, I suggest female professionals practise good time management, finding a way to balance work and personal life. You need to handle your work-related tasks and also find time to pursue the things you love, be they sports, dancing or spending time with family and friends.

It’s true that female professionals are facing more and more challenges, balancing work and family life while dealing with issues of pregnancy, maternity leave and raising children. In some cases, women who take management positions are misconstrued as unable to balance work and other parts of life, and are forced to choose between their careers and their lives. However, we should note that women are born with the ability to multitask. Not only can they become successful managers, but they can also demonstrate their potential as women. As both a senior manager and a mother of two, I would sometimes receive complaints from my children, and would try my best to give them my time and attention. After work, I would review their homework and take time out to chat with them daily. When I asked them if they wanted me to give up my job and become a full-time mother, they told me they were proud of my job, and thought I was more successful than full-time mothers.

Female professionals should know the joy of being women. We encourage our female employees to strike a balance between work and personal life. Our “work from home” policies and flexible working hours allow them more freedom to coordinate their working requirements with family needs. In fact, proper support from the company can allow employees to both follow their own careers and fulfil various other roles in their lives. Try to share your new experiences and memories with your family, and your mutual bonds will become stronger than ever.

On love

Of course, finding an understanding and supportive partner is very important. In fact, you will often need the support of your partner at major turning points in your career and want to share with him your successes and joys. I understand that many Chinese women want their future partners to be rich, handsome, own an apartment and a luxury car. I suggest that we leave these out of the equation. After all, all of us need to start from scratch. As long as two people can mutually support and encourage each other, they can eventually earn enough to buy the things they want. I’ve never expected my partner to provide for me, only hoping that he give me a happy life. I am lucky enough to find my husband. I may put my career first at times, but I have also made changes to adapt to his life. Two people living together definitely require plenty of communication and understanding. Being a good wife and a mother does not require giving up your job.

Remember that once you have decided on having both a career and a family, you must make certain life planning adjustments. When deciding on any career changes, you must remember to first discuss it with your family and partner well beforehand to ensure that the change will not disadvantage your husband and children.

About work place and dreams

I am the results oriented type. You need to focus on good results in the workplace and then put all your resources into achieving them—in your own style, your own way and with your own passion—but in an open and transparent manner, communicating closely with your superiors. Many female professionals fail to communicate with their male superiors, which only dampens their career development.

These days, more and more Chinese women choose to study or work overseas to pursue their dream. In my opinion, the best advantage of living overseas is in learning more about local culture, tasting their food, participating in their religious activities and adopting the local lifestyle. Once you understand a new culture, you will have more choice, thereby enriching your life. We must all be clear on what we want. All problems can be solved once we have clear answers. You only need a strong sense of curiosity and persistence— don’t give up before trying.

Please bear it in mind that there’s a lot that one can give up on, but dreams, including life and career dreams, are inviolable. I myself love to dance, and it is one of my dreams. I was a professional ballet dancer once, and have since studied modern dance, jazz and tango. Now I am trying my hand at Latin dance. I will probably dance my whole life. Through dancing, I can renew my passion towards my life and career.

Life is like a dance, beautiful and touching, while our dreams driving us forward. I believe that all female professionals can realise their dreams, as long as they have them, and dance out their personal miracles.

A female professional just like you
Daniela Riccardi

 

 
Suggestions given by Daniela Riccardi
 
Suggestions to women:
‧Be confident, and believe that you can!
‧Devote yourself to your job.
‧Maintain good health and stamina, and leave some time for yourself.
‧Take control of your own destiny.
‧Find a husband or a partner that fits you.
 
 
Suggestions to men:
‧Try to understand the difficulties faced by women.
‧Draw out and make use of their strengths.
‧Set high demands and dare to believe in them.
‧Respect the decisions they make at the various stages in their career and life.
‧Always ask: How can you help them?
 
 
The success formula of Daniela Riccardi in her family and her career
 
In the workplace: 
‧Focus on good results. 
‧Be open and transparent.... communicate closely with your superiors. 
‧Make full use of your strengths, and work in your style, your way and with your passion. 
‧Never attempt to accomplish something unobtainable....such as becoming like a man. 
‧Give support and confidence to other women in the workplace.
 
 
At home:
‧Leave valuable time for your family.
‧Communicate with your partner well before any career changes.
‧Ensure that any career change does not affect or disadvantage your children.
‧Share with your family the joys of your new experiences.