Women in Leadership: Silvia Azzali, Chief Commercial Officer, Wolford AG


Silvia Azzali has had a career in the fashion industry that many can
only dream of: After working at Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, La Perla,
Trussardi, Ermanno Scervino and most recently Moschino, she is now part of
the dual leadership team on the Executive Board of Wolford AG. Not only did
she get to know many companies, but also many fields of expertise: After a
degree in philosophy and a master’s in Human Resources Management, she
entered the workforce in human resources, later moving to the retail and
franchising sector. Since November 2019 she has been a member of the
Executive Board at Wolford, where she is responsible for Sales &
Merchandising, Marketing, and Design. FashionUnited talked to Silvia Azzali
about her career, her advice to women entering the workforce and the
leadership style of women as part of the “Women in Leadership” series.

Please describe your career in your own words.

I think I could describe my career as successful, I have achieved more
than I ever thought possible and I think this has happened because I have
always been very passionate about what I was doing. I consider myself not
very conventional, in life, as in my profession, I am not looking for
recognition or a better title. I truly love the challenge of building
long-lasting brands and businesses, also if it means going through painful
transformation processes and changes. Having this passion for my job, the
products, the consumers, is very important to me. I think that being
authentic and real has given me the chance to explore different business
territories, which enriched my professional background and also me as a
person.

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What does a typical day in your job look like?

Well, lately my typical day is filled with video calls. Virtual meetings
with all teams: sales, marketing, merchandising, HR, product development,
clients, distributors, you name it. It was difficult at the beginning to
spend so much time in front of a screen, but I am getting used to it now.

Which professional advice would you give your younger self in her 20s
and/or current graduates?

What I say all the time, find your passion.

Which of your qualities were particularly helpful for your career and
your current position?

I think I am a good listener and I am a very curious person, I love to
learn new things and keep myself constantly updated. Nowadays, we are all
iPhones that need an upgrade every two months or so.

Do you believe that women have a different management style than men?
How do they differ?

I am not sure that there are differences related to gender when it comes
to management. I think that there are no definitive studies about this yet,
maybe we will have them in a few years. In my experience, I can say that
women, in general, pay more attention to people than men do and are more
empathetic.

Do you see yourself as a mentor for other women? How do you encourage
them?

For sure, I am doing my best. But you should ask the women I have and
continue to work with, whether I am succeeding. I do believe that female
empowerment comes from women and I try to do my best in providing
opportunities. I think that encouragement, for anybody, man or woman, comes
from allowing people to make mistakes and provide support or an open ear.
Let them stand on their own feet but always be at their side to cheer them
on.

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Does Wolford specifically promote women? What does that look like?

Female empowerment has always been part of our DNA, naturally, as 99,9%
of our products are for women. We are constantly developing products to
allow women to be comfortable and provide them with the right foundation or
accessories that will make them shine.
Our mission is to provide the finest legwear in the world. Leveraging our
heritage and design ethos, leading in quality and innovation, we encourage
our consumers around the globe, to express themselves and be confident.

What changes has the year 2020 brought to your job?

The global pandemic has affected the company, as it has the entire
industry, very much. It has also shown us that we need to change. We
strongly believe in what Clarence Darrow once said, “It is not the
strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but
rather the one most adaptable to change” and this is the direction we are
going, through a more flexible and agile structure. For example, we have
changed part of our production to create masks, investing in
sustainability, changing the way we produce and consume, and really pushing
our digitalization and digitization.

The message? Be the change you wish to see in the world. This message is
for us internally very important and we want our consumer to be on board
and join us on this path.

Wolford recently celebrated its 70th birthday. Over the past 70 years,
women have made a lot of progress. Which of these milestones make you proud
and what else would you like for women to achieve?

I am proud that women today can decide who they want to be. We did
achieve a lot in many parts of the world, not everywhere yet. For the
future, I do hope that what has been achieved by many today could be
normality for every woman on the planet. I believe that being able to
decide who you want to be, and what you want to do, should be possible and
achievable for everyone.

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This interview was previously published on FashionUnited.de.
Translation and editing: Barbara Russ



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