Nuria Vilanova Giralt: A Leader Who Rolls-up her Sleeves!
If there is something that defines Núria Vilanova Giralt, it’s her warmth. She inspires confidence as soon as you meet her, a critical trait not only for a communications entrepreneur but for any influencer. Meet her and get inspired!
Núria Vilanova Giralt began her career at 18 as a journalist. At 23 she founded with her mother the communications company Inforpress (“renamed” ATREVIA in 2015), nowadays the largest communications company in Spain.
With a team of more than 300 people and offices in 13 Latin American countries, in the United States, Belgium and Portugal, ATREVIA’s vocation is to lead communications in Spanish and Portuguese.
Among the many organizations in which she participates, Núria is president of the Consejo Empresarial Alianza por Iberoamérica (CEAPI), a network of influential businesspeople in the region, that aims to stimulate the exchange and cooperation in the private enterprise.
She is the founder and co-president of the Observatory of Internal Communication and Corporate Identity, with the School of Business, Instituto de Empresa and author of two books. She has received multiple recognitions among them, la Cruz de Oficial de Isabel La Católica, one of the highest-ranking recognitions in Spain. She has also been awarded the Fidem Prize for Entrepreneurial Women and appears in several rankings as one of the TOP 100 women in Spain and one of the 10 most influential CEOs in social media in that country.
For blazing a trail, breaking down barriers, leading with an inclusive vision, and for being a role model of leadership for the 21st century, today we honor Núria Vilanova Giralt in the Red Shoe Movement Hall of Fame.
Red Shoe Movement—How do you see female leadership in Europe?
Núria Vilanova Giralt—Giant steps towards progress have been taken, but there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equity. It is important that administrations move, but even more so that there are changes in the leadership of the organizations and, fundamentally, in the base of society, where poverty is much more cruel to women, who suffer violence and harassment. Until there are changes in the base we won’t break the glass ceiling.
RSM— As a communications company, one of your strengths is Latin America. What do you think are the strengths of women in the region?
NVG—Latin American women are strong, excited and eager to change the rules of the game. Their talent and tenacity has allowed them to position themselves in traditionally masculine sectors. They have become a fundamental part of any organization, either because of their contribution to their teams or because they occupy positions of responsibility.
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RSM— What makes women great leaders?
NVG—We women are optimistic. What we have achieved compared with the generation of our mothers is incredible. We know that the world will be different in the coming years but, please, let’s make sure that it is also different for women.
RSM—You are personally involved in several initiatives that promote gender parity in the board of directors and high decision-making positions. Could you share about that a bit?
NVG—Yes, ATREVIA is a signatory of the agreement promoted by the Spanish Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality to increase the presence of women in management bodies and boards of directors of companies. In addition, at ATREVIA we began ten years ago to study gender equity in corporate boards of the main companies listed on the stock exchange. Back then there were 5% of women. Today there are 20%. It is evident that progress has been made, but to deepen this progress, a social commitment is needed.
We have also promoted the Mirada Plural Platform, formed by women leaders in different areas. It promotes the creation of a network to increase the presence of women in the media, committees, institutions, councils and associations, as well as promoting networking and the collaboration from the people with diverse backgrounds.
RSM— What recommendations do you have for a leader to effectively communicate her personal brand?
NVG—They must be very present in social media, interacting, informing others and informing themselves. Communicating with responsibility and with the commitment to do things well and, if mistakes are made, apologize and rectify. Today’s society and organizations impose a new model of leaders, imperfect but connected, who move by the imperative of listening. Leaders must be able to get in the front row to reach people, roll up their sleeves and stand by their team.
RSM— What gives you hope in today’s world?
NVG—The attachment to values, solidarity, empathy and the power of communication to transform realities. I think the democratization of knowledge, the globalization and the breakdown of barriers thanks to the Internet that makes our society live an authentic revolution seem very hopeful. Today, more than ever, decision-makers are aware that they must put their hearts and minds to think about people.
RSM— In terms of leadership lessons, can you share one of your personal failures and what you have learned from it?
NVG—Each failure and each adversity represent an opportunity to improve and grow. In 1989, when I had only been an entrepreneur for six months, I lost my only client. I had two options: sink or find something that could help me keep the office and pay my secretary’s salary. So I had no choice but to go get new projects. Since then I have learned to transform negative situations into positive ones.
Every one of my company’s great milestones have taken place after a crisis. For example, in 2008, on the 20th anniversary of the company (called Inforpress at the time), we had 150 employees and seven offices (six in Spain and one in Portugal.) The global economic crisis was starting, and our customers were calling to ask for discounts or to cancel their contracts. I decided to bet on myself and on the team. So we organized a conference with the 150 workers and spent three days together figuring out the strategies to overcome the crisis. We came out of that conference stronger, with clear ideas. Once again, thanks to an obstacle on the road and in the middle of a turbulent time for the communication sector, we were able to grow by 25% and expand by opening offices in Brazil, Colombia and Peru.
RSM— Who were some of the most influential men and women in your career? How exactly did they influence you?
NVG—Among the members of my family, without a doubt, my mother. When I decided to start my company at the age of 23 – then called Inforpress – my mother decided to embark on the adventure with generosity, accepting decisions to open new offices and take risks that she did not want for her daughter. He has been the support of the project. Caring for detail, organizing chaos, monitoring profitability. She took care of everything that I neglected: the financial, accounting, tax, legal issues … and on many occasions she has been the mother for the team, the one who knows when someone really needs a hand. And my husband, who has joined the project, an ally of my mother in taking care that everything works and also assuming the challenge of innovation and technology in a world where what is communication without technology and big data?
RSM—Can you share with us the story of a person whose life or career changed thanks to you?
NVG—We all change and we influence each other. Each of the people who worked at my company has left a mark. But perhaps an exciting moment was when at a dinner of the Association of Down Syndrome in Spain, her colleagues congratulated the person with Down syndrome who had joined ATREVIA. They lined up as she walked to the podium and applauded her because she had achieved the dream for which she had been preparing for so long: to join the workplace and contribute to society.
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