“I can’t believe what’s happening. I want to be an entrepreneur and my biggest desire is to communicate and share my passion.”
It was a casual conversation that went on for hours…because it was a real pleasure talking to Eleonora Rocca. She’s an entrepreneur from Rome who moved to Milan and then London, where she’s currently based. We met up at Foodies, and got to know each other over two excellent smoothies. Career, dreams, goals, milestones and the common passion that has become both of our work: digital communication. It’s always the right time to change, evolve, get involved and jump into new adventures, and her story proves that. She has a law degree and a passion for marketing, but it all started with a fashion and lifestyle blog: The Brunette Cupcake. She told me how the whole blogging adventure began just for fun, but it soon transformed into a source for contacts, initiatives, meetings and relationships. And then there’s MASHABLE SOCIAL MEDIA DAY, which will be a special edition this year thanks to the new Digital Innovation Days.
Your story shows strong determination and an ability to build Personal Branding.
That’s true. Personal Branding has its own value when it’s able to promote something concrete. I’ve always followed my instincts in my life: I left behind a permanent contract to throw myself into an adventure abroad, starting with a Masters in marketing and communication at the Sole 24 Ore Business School. Once I finished the masters, I built a vertical career that grew pretty quickly, starting with Roberto Cavalli, passing to Privalia, and culminating with Microsoft, where at 30 years old I was already Product Marketing Manager for Microsoft Office. When I’m mentoring I always tell young women that they need to understand their strengths. For example, I could never work in finance. And speaking of instinct, what I’m doing now isn’t exactly rational, but I can feel that it’ll lead me where I want to go in the end.
And was it that same instinct that led to your adventure with Mashable Day?
Yes, exactly. I was already in London in 2014 when they contacted me to ask if I could organize the Italian edition of Mashable. I was nervous at first, but then I let enthusiasm take over. That’s how I got 150 people on board the first year. Then in 2015 I told myself I was going to focus even more on the organization, taking even more time on it, and we got 500 participants. Then we sold out in 2016. Now I’m in contact with Malta as well, so maybe we’ll start there too. Of course in London there are loads of events like this, but it’s a complete novelty in Italy. Especially because I always aim for high quality content and international speakers that can talk about and share their experience of success, and can provide inspiration for all professionals in the sector.
New this year are the Digital Innovation Days, your creation which are in addition to the traditional Mashable Social Media Day, right?
I believe that an event not only has to talk about interesting subjects, but it especially needs to give people a concrete starting point. As Marketing Manager, when I take part in an event, I mainly expect to learn the latest trends in the sector, and get suggestions about tools or other tangible solutions that I can adopt into my everyday work. Another aspect that you can’t ignore is providing a 360-degree view of the digital market: the moves other players are making and what products they’re focusing on. For example, Cisco is going to tell us about Digitaliani, a program seeking to speed up innovation in Italy, digitalize production chains, and expand and increase the impact of the digital market in order to create new business opportunities. It was exactly in this mindset that we created Digital Innovation Days (#DIDAYS) – 3 days dedicated to innovation: open innovation, the work of startups, The Lean Startup, artificial intelligence, unconventional marketing, e-commerce strategy and much more.
You live and work in London. What do you think of Italy?
I think there’s a lot brewing in Italy, but unfortunately it’s missing the culture. Let me explain that better: it’s a Catholic country where it seems like you’re doing something strange if you ask for money. People are not trusting, they don’t believe in the possibility of a meritocracy, and this works against us. I’ve been to Silicon Valley and I can assure you that not only is money at the center of everything there, but people have a special attitude, a deep conviction that they want to and can do great things. In Italy, we’re all a bit resigned. But I’ve always believed in my potential and that’s why I want to do something concrete for my country. In fact, mashable’s goal is first and foremost to inject people with positive energy and show them that you can go to an event and listen to interesting, inspiring talks. I want people to walk out after 3 days at Mashable with some extra bounce in their step and the desire to do something.
Considering that the tech sector is almost completely male dominated, how were you able to break in?
In this respect there’s not a big difference between London and Milan, because the IT sector is effectively dominated by men everywhere. In 90% of the meetings I’m in, there are only men. Maybe the difference is that in the English capital, no one looks at how you’re dressed, or makes jokes or comments of a sexual nature. Quite the opposite in fact – the English spurn any form of discrimination.
It should be said that there are still too few women who do try, who think they can “make it” with the men. And on the one hand, I understand, because being an entrepreneur or manager means traveling and being away from home a lot, working a lot, having lots of responsibilities, and it can be hard to reconcile that with having a family. Having said that though, it’s definitely true that in the UK, unlike Italy, there is no pressure on women to have a family. Actually, it’s just the opposite: there are plenty of men who take care of the kids, maybe while the woman is working.
What are you expecting for this edition of Mashable and what would you like the participants to take away?
I have high expectations for this edition. I hope to see the room full of energy, where people and companies relevant to the “digital and entrepreneurial world”–both Italian and international — will be united. I hope to be able to say that I “infected” my country in a positive way, showing that a meritocracy can take you far, even in Italy. But above all, I want to hear people walk out of the room and say: I learned something, I feel stimulated and happy and positive about my future. In addition, I believe in the ties between the world of startups and entrepreneurs, and the digital world. Knowing how to promote yourself online is becoming more and more crucial. I’m particularly fascinated with people who fight and take risks for what they believe in, and Mashable Day can definitely be a great opportunity for better visibility, sharing and networking. It’s with this in mind that we decided to focus on high level case studies, extreme variety and a full range of content. And then we’ll also have business matching, startup competitions and themed workshops that will let participants bring theory and practice together while having fun.
And there’s a mega closing party in collaboration with Marketers, a company founded by successful influencer Dario Vignali, and his enormous community of digital fanatics. Because I’m convinced that big opportunities arise while you’re having fun.
So we expect to see everyone in Milan at the Talent Garden Calabiana for the fourth edition of MASHABLE SOCIAL MEDIA DAY + DIGITAL INNOVATION DAYS 2017. Mark your calendars for 19-20-21 October 2017.
Dotmug will also be there, and we’ve got a special discount just for our readers. CLICK HERE!