Elena Di Giovanni is Vice-chairman and Co-founder of Comin & Partners — a strategic communication consultancy firm based in Rome and Milan. Over her nearly 25-year career, she’s worked with iconic brands and international institutions, from Campari, to The Venice Biennale, to the launch of Nespresso in Italy. Active in her community, Elena is a Board Member of the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome (GNAM), and a professor at the LUISS Guido Carli University of Rome.
My first job ever was… in an international PR firm in Milan, Weber Shandwick. I was very young, and I had a dream to be independent and to work in an international environment — and I fulfilled it. This first experience taught me a lot about perseverance and transforming adrenaline into results.
I chose a career in communications because… to communicate represents the salt of life. It is a sector in which social empathy plays a fundamental role, and I totally felt it. I started in the 90’s when big lobbyists and PR campaigns were trying to draw the public’s attention on specific issues (such as anti-smoking campaigns, and low-sugar campaigns).
My proudest accomplishment is… There is more than one! The first two I can think of are: my engagement in supporting women’s roles in Tunisia, as an advisor to the Ministry of Tourism of Tunisia, and the launch of Nespresso in Italy, a Swiss coffee brand entering one of the most difficult and competitive markets in the world.
My boldest move to date was… creating a very successful PR and public affairs company from scratch with an extremely talented man and then joining forces with three other motivated and experienced partners.
I surprise people when I tell them… that when I was only 30 years old; I was already the Director of Venice Biennale Foundation, managing the communication Departments of Venice Film Festival, International Art and Architecture exhibitions, Dance Music and theatre Festival.
My biggest setback was… coming back to Italy after having spent eight years abroad and realizing that the gender gap was still a problem in many sectors.
I overcame it by… committing personally to the cause. It worked in many cases, for example in our firm there is a balance between female and male employees. We also helped out some of our clients to promote women’s leadership within their businesses and their communication strategies.
“Women can help drive the restart after the COVID-19 crisis through our tenacity, passion and diplomatic attitude.”
My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… choose a project which you really believe in, and select the right business partner.
The one piece of advice I give that I have trouble following myself is… to keep cool.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… dedicate more time to train young people and feed my soul with the arts.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I changed my life for eight years to follow my husband, who was then the Italian Ambassador to Brazil and to Germany. This became a great experience that taught me a lot in Public Policy Affairs.
I stay inspired by… news, new projects and new businesses.
The future excites me because… women can help drive the restart after the COVID-19 crisis through our tenacity, passion and diplomatic attitude.
My next step is… to look at the future with positivity, seeing this crisis as an opportunity to strengthen the exchange of ideas, to foster collaboration, and to rethink our approach in a more sustainable and conscious way.