When I sat down with Angele Giuliano and Maryrose Francica there was an instant feeling of respect. What unfurled throughout that forty minute Zoom call, along with countless belly laughs, was justification and of that respect coupled with true appreciation.
I wanted these ladies to be part of GITH Woman simply for their collective dedication to supporting other women. Like many in benevolent positions their inspiration to help others, was born from the lack they experienced on their own journeys. They have both given years of their life voluntarily, to the Foundation For Women Entrepreneurs, in the hope that they can be part of the change in leading women into (and back into) the workforce. They do this by offering courses, training, workshops, mentoring and personal consulting to any woman that requires the help. Not only do they offer their wide experience freely to others, they work together as a team to achieve their goals and have done for over two decades.
Next month GITH will feature Angele and Maryrose and their work with the Foundation For Women Entrepreneurs in more detail. But for now I’d like to share the bones of our conversation, and expose a little about what makes these women who they are today.
What drives you to do what you do?
Angele: Someone has to do it! I started my own business at 21 and had no one to turn to – due to my nature, I kept going, but all along I asked myself ‘Why?’!… So I looked for myself and learned that if you can build it you can do it!
Maryrose: I don’t want to see a woman in Malta or Gozo who is not financially independent.
I’m not saying everyone has to be multi-millionaires, but if you can bake a cake, you can make money, you know? It’s to help people be self-sufficient. This is my motive.
What inspires you?
Angele: At the end of every year, I have a chat with my auditor, who goes on about balance sheets and values, profit and losses, figures and so on. That’s her job! But a couple of years ago, I started my ‘social balance sheet’ it’s not monetary it’s based on actions in people. When I am down I have it. It’s very personal and I share it with no one, but when I look at it, I feel better.
Maryrose: When I see people that I have helped or the foundation has supported doing well in their own businesses – successful, this makes me happy and inspires me to continue.
Can you share a defining moment in your life?
Angele: When the company I was working on fresh out of University decided to close and make everyone redundant, based on my own calculations they had not really worked out the total market potential and this was never going to be enough for all their costs. I brought this to the attention of management in the hope they would rectify the situation, diversify or even be open to new ideas, and instead they kicked me and all my colleagues out! I felt like sh*t about it for many months, and I vowed that in my professional life I would create jobs for others.
I then opened a company with one of my ex colleagues and together we employed some of the others, but the chemistry did not work out that time, and I moved on. However once I managed (after several fits and starts) to open up my dream company AcrossLimits (that this year turns 20 years old!) then I could happily build a great working environment not just for me but also for my employees. (but ask them, not me if I’m a good boss or not! )
MaryRose: There was no mega defining moment for me, but more like many different moments and circumstances in my life that made me stop, think and change direction in my career, relationships and friendships. I consider myself work in progress that keeps changing according to the needs of the moment!
What keeps you sane?
Angele: Sailing – because I used to travel a lot, I wasn’t using the boat but now I have rediscovered it. You forget the mobile, internet you have the sun, the sea, the wind and you. Perfect!
Maryrose: Ireland – when I can travel! My partner lives there and it’s in the middle of nowhere. I can switch off and worry for nothing!
What advice would you give your younger self?
Angele: I wouldn’t influence her too much. I am the person I am today because of my experience. If I were to go back, I might screw this up!
Maryrose: Believe in yourself. You have everything on your side, when you are young, but we don’t have the self confidence – now, I’m older, I do. Just with a few more wrinkles!
What’s your tip for life-work balance?
Angele: Keep a tight rein on your appointments calendar. Block times in it when you can just “work in peace” and others when you are open to do meetings. Constantly switching is not good for productivity, so best to mess up a couple of days only with meetings and the rest keep it for “real work”.
Maryrose: Whenever the opportunity arises take it, both in work and play because sometimes it does not knock on your door twice. I love being flexible enough to be able to take a nap or a swim in the middle of the day if I feel like it. Or work all through the middle of the night. I have a lovely social network of friends which are great and are always organising interesting things. Now I call them my bubble of 10, they have been very supportive! Finding your own work life balance requires a lot of effort and does not come easy.
What general advice would you give to a woman who wants to start her own business?
Angele: Let go, get out of your own way and start! You can do it. Believe in yourself. There are many of us here to support you, and you do not have to be alone. Others have done it, and you can do it as well!
Maryrose: Research your idea, think about it, write your concept down so that you will be able to visualise it, but give yourself a deadline and take the plunge as there is never a perfect time to start. Get a mentor so you will have a sound board and adjust as you go along. I would rather say I have tried and failed then 10 or 20 years down the line say ‘What if?’
What book changed your life in some way?
Angele: At age 13, I loved Shakespeare’s Macbeth’. I was totally fascinated with how Lady Macbeth played her husband, although it weighed heavily on her sanity at the end. I guess it helped me start to understand how it is that women ‘operate’ when they cannot be more direct. As an adult ‘Daring Greatly’ by Brene Brown. I saw her TED talk and was fascinated so I chased her work up on Amazon and really enjoyed this book. Much of it reverberated with me and echoed my thoughts but she put things in a much more coherent way.
Maryrose: It is definitely ‘Leading the Workforce of the Future: Inspiring a Mindset of Passion, Innovation and Growth’ by Brigette Tasha Hyacinth. I have both the paperback and the Kindle edition. It touched me so deeply that I contacted Brigitte and now we are connected on LinkedIn and Facebook and chat from time to time. She is such an inspiration.
WHAT’s your Favourite quote of all time?
Angele: Ah! This is difficult. My quotes change as I get older. When I was younger it was “Live when I’m alive and sleep when I’m dead” a U2 lyric, but that was when I was a Duracell bunny and never, ever stopped working.
Now it’s almost the polar opposite! “Don’t sacrifice yourself too much, because if you sacrifice too much there’s nothing else you can give.” Karl Lagerfeld said that. Since I’ve finally gotten to grips with my own limits and mortality, and I want to live a good quality of life, not just a mad one!
Maryrose: Mines simple. The secret of getting ahead is getting started!
Angele: This has to be Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. They were my idols growing up. I was part of a large chorus concert (the original Voices) and we performed this so learned all the details and beautiful intricacies. I love how the song mutates as it goes along – kinda like life, where there are ups and downs, calm periods and totally manic ones!
Maryrose: This is really a hard one but I would say Bed of Roses by Bon Jovi and Stairway to Heaven a very close second.
The Takeaway. Be inspired by their values, humility, following their calls to duty without obligation, and working as a team. They are giving necessary and alternate life choices to numerous women while collectively promoting a new and productive era for womankind where it’s needed most.
Find out more about the FWE and the work these ladies are involved in: Foundation For Women Entrepreneurs.