The Short Cut:
A quick fire chat about working life with Mirta Rotondo
At the heart of the Nurture Network is the power of sharing experiences. From breakthrough career moments, to best ever advice, how to deal with stress and the women that inspire them – The Short Cut is designed to bring you a snapshot of our members’ working lives. Today we’re speaking to Mirta Rotondo, VP of Brand & Experience Design at TrueLayer
Tell us about your breakthrough career moment
When I was 18, I co-founded my first company and spent the next six years running it. It’s at the very end of that period that I had my breakthrough career moment: I decided to start from scratch and work as a freelancer.
I wanted to challenge myself and see what I was really capable of. What I soon realised was that I had to fully rely on my abilities to grow the business (and my own income). And I’m so glad I made that call. Working alone forces you to do all the things you don’t like to do and learn from them (for example dealing with clients’ requests, contracts, invoices, third party providers, and so much more).
My career as a contractor lasted another six years. Everything I’ve learnt, I am still using it right now to solve all sorts of problems – from stakeholder management to scaling processes.
When hiring designers, having worked independently is one of the things I look for. And when it comes to mentoring, it is one of the things I suggest doing. Get your hands dirty! It pays off, especially if you wish to become a manager or a founder.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?
“People are going to talk, whether you do bad or good. So, let them talk.”
Who could have imagined that I would have resummoned the same piece of advice my grandma gave me as a teenager, years later as a business leader?
The broader the scope of your role, the more eyes are going to watch and judge how you do. I realised that I shouldn’t waste energy in addressing comments that are not constructive or not backed by data. So, if it’s not meaningful… I let them talk!
Have you ever felt held back as a woman in business? How did you respond?
I tend not to separate genders into buckets and avoid classifying myself as a “woman in business”. To me, what really counts is what we do and how we behave, not who we are and where we come from. Still, sometimes as women we have to deal with misogynist behaviours. When that happens, I don’t shy away from facing them out loud and I definitely do not allow myself to let whatever they say have an impact on me or other women.
How do you protect your mental health in moments of pressure?
Breathing, yoga and meditation to acknowledge and release body tension. A hot bath and aromatherapy to slow down. Professional body massage to re-balance and find harmony. And finally, a glass of wine with a friend, to share my feelings and find comfort.
Do you have any hobbies to keep you busy in your spare time?
Plenty! I am a very curious person and I always like to learn new things. The ones I enjoy the most are activities that require creativity and precision at the same time. Some examples being: cooking, DIY projects, painting, interior design, and gardening. They all allow me to explore and express myself freely, while requiring having a very precise skill set in place. They all give me instant gratification but also push me to do better next time.
“A garden, no matter how good it is, must never satisfy” –Jamaica Kincaid
I feel empowered when…
I am trusted to deliver change. When I am given the chance to challenge the standard, I feel driven and motivated. To me, experimenting, failing, and trying is the path that leads to excellence. Seeking new ways to do things gives me purpose.
The woman who empowers me the most is….
My mother. She has strength, infinite love, and kindness for her family and for everyone else who crosses her path.
And, my grandmother: at 95 she still pushes me to be stronger and more patient. I’ll be forever grateful for having had such exceptional role models guiding and empowering me in my journey. And now that I’m a mother too, I guess it’s my turn to do the same.
The woman everyone should know about is…
Vittoria Ferdinandi – founder and director of the Italian restaurant “Numero Zero”. Up to 50% of her restaurant’s staff are people who suffer from mental disorders. With this project Vittoria employed individuals who otherwise would have probably struggled to find a job just because of their social status. On top of that, she also empowered them so that they could grow and cultivate their passions – which is crucial to developing their self-esteem.
Having a loved one suffering from schizophrenia myself, I do know how difficult it is for them to feel accepted as part of society, and for others to understand their illness.
“Numero Zero” is a truly inclusive environment that should be taken as a model worldwide: a dinner out becomes an opportunity to interact and socialise with the otherwise stigmatised mentally ill.
Chapeau to Vittoria!
The world will be a better place when…
We will nurture each other. Sharing our individual stories and trying to listen and deeply understand what other people may be struggling with, is paramount to creating more meaningful relationships. Practicing kindness, empathy and developing one’s own emotional intelligence – especially when facing grief and negative emotions – can help promote mental wellbeing and create an inclusive environment that accepts diversity and breaks down stigmas.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Sailing at night in the Mediterranean Sea. The sound of the water gently caressing the boat hull. Dark all around, nothing at the horizon. The sticky salty air on the skin. The stars above my head. Peace outside, and inside.