Point of Vista: Women in the Workplace – Part III

By Roxana Lissa

“Women need each other.”  That’s how we started our conversation with my friend, colleague, and fellow Argentine, Romina Bongiovanni, for my last piece of “Women in The Workplace” series. She listened to how her beautiful 6-year old daughter Catalina was doing online playdates with her friends. 

I have needed many of my sisters throughout my career.  Whether it was time to make crucial decisions, going through family’s issues, or to follow each other’s advice, women have always been there for me.  And Romina has been one of them.

An export from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Romina’s career ambition, focus, and relentlessness brought her to California to pursue her dream of becoming a public relations executive. And she achieved that dream.

In a quiet, humble, and tenacious way, Romina has become one of the most accomplished communications professionals I admire the most.  An incredibly smart, hard-working executive, Romina has always displayed precise focus, relentlessness, and an inner desire to thrive. 

Having started her career at Orci and RLPR where she mastered multicultural PR skills working for brands such as Verizon and got milk?;  she took that experience to challenge herself by joining top PR giant Edelman, where she represented mega brands such as Microsoft and Starbucks, to name a few.

After opening her consulting firm “Journey,” she realized that one of her passions was to add value and elevate PR’s role within the advertising world, and that’s what she did for Sensis and Saatchi & Saatchi.  Saatchi & Saatchi provided her with the unique experience to manage global earned media initiatives for Toyota for example, giving her the tools to expand her experience at a global level

Now, as head of Global Communications at New Balance – that took her from LA to Boston – she has learned to balance her passion for work and her love for her family.  While it hasn’t always been easy it now plays an even more important role than ever in helping her manage working remotely, home schooling and the blending of family and work at all hours of the day.

Never afraid of taking risks and leaving her comfort zone is what I love the most about Romina. “When I left Argentina, my friends in LA became my family,” she says. “I can’t grab a “cafecito” with them now, but I am focusing in the present moment and in this new experience with my family,” she explains.

I asked Romina to share her experience working with women throughout the years, and some of the lessons learned along the way. 

“For me, one of my main intentions is to get along with my team. Establishing a good dynamic and working relationship is important to me,” she adds. “When there are disagreements of lack of alignment, it is essential to talk and have honest discussions. Working in multicultural PR for so many years, I always felt the need to fight for more budgets for my programs, for my ideas to be considered, and for executives to value multicultural marketing in general,” she adds.

“The road of achieving peace and recognizing your worth hasn’t been easy. But I have matured and grown as a person and professional,” she states. “There were times that I felt bothered when other people took the credit for my work.  I have learned that living in the present moment also means allowing other people to take credit.  I don’t have to prove myself anymore with the best idea.  As long as you have good intention, you allow others to thrive.”

One of my findings over the years has been how, in some cases, we think that being tough, strong, and using more “male energy” as opposed to our female nurturing qualities can get us far in our career journey.  I believe that’s an antiquated model of leadership.  

Unfortunately, in some cases several female executives I have been talking to for this series have expressed the bias by which decisions made by women are measured.  The simplest things like a “reply all” before running your POV by your boss is a lot more scrutinized.  In this case, men are perceived as simply adding value and contributing to a conversation, versus women, who are often considered aggressive, for simply doing her job well and providing good insights. 

“We have to let people say the things they need to say about us.  We can’t control it. Even when I have experienced difficult situations, I realized I had a learned a lot from them,” she explains.

Romina believes that women can impact someone’s life anywhere in the world.

“For us at New Balance and personally, it’s about finding the elements that unify us across countries and different cultures, with creativity,” she adds.

“It’s time for us women to create our own stories and reach further, motivating and building a path for other women in the process.  Men support each other in the workplace; they elevate one another.  We need to find that unity, opening doors for other women and embracing each other’s differences. I am lucky I had several women rooting for me, and I have access to them, as they are a huge part of who I am.  I aspire to become exactly that for my daughter, as well as the women I encounter.”

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