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7 Questions with Maria Elena Puppi
7 Questions with Maria Elena Puppi

Name: Maria Elena Puppi

Current title: CEO of OGS Public Relations and Communication

Current organisation: OGS Public Relations and Communication

Traveling a lot in Italy and then in Europe, I have always worked in the field of public relations and communication since the first PC Forum IBM. I worked in the computer science and fashion industry, reaching the design and architecture sector which is where I work the most now. With a consolidated experience in PR I decided to set up my agency OGS Public Relations and Communication in Milan. OGS is an integrated PR and Communication agency for brands specialized in the design, architecture, lifestyle, furniture and packaging industry. Within OGS I am a director, a decision maker, and an executor. With my team, we develop personalized communication strategies with the aim of supporting brand awareness and promote the values and identity of our brands' clients giving them visibility with originality among their reference audiences. We develop relationships with targeted publics: stakeholders, professionals in the design and architecture industry, clients, employees, vendors, industry, community and media. What's at the center? Communications. Open, authentic and transparent communications. We have a boutique approach: I personally take care of clients in a direct and personalized way. We are dynamic, proactive and we believe in long-lasting relationships. My role implies high-level corporate decisions and I drive changes within the company. As a manager I preside over the organization's day-to-day operations, to make to most out of our skills and knowledge.

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?

The greatest challenge of these days is this period of international emergency. This situation carries along an important loss of means of communications, such as physical events, meetings in person. So the challenge is to find a way to communicate despite these limitations. For example, you have to find a way of creating online events that should entertain and capture the attention of the audience even though behind a screen.

2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I worked hard, but above all I managed to adapted to market changes. In fact, the way of working and doing business changes all the time. We see it especially today with this emergency, but, actually, I’ve always experienced it. So the values and skills that make me the woman I am today are flexibility, open-mindedness, and ambition.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

First thing, I have a good breakfast with my dogs and this is a precious time that give me energy. I used to travel all the time. I have always traveled a lot for business, developing for my client’s business marketing actions and strategies on specific market. So I used to wake up, take the luggage, go to the airport, had all days meeting around the cities. Nowadays my habits really changed. Now I stay most of the time at the office, but it doesn’t stop me from creating connections. That’s what I do during the day: I create fruitful business connections thinking new ways of doing communication and creating links between demand and offer for my clients. This is what makes my day.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

A recent important lesson I learned comes from the Pope’s interview. He talked about “sticking together” and “using WE instead of I” stopping with selfishness and individualism. It made me think how important is collaboration. I find it very important not only for everyday life, but also for business. I have a really open mind vision of teamwork, not only related to the company but also with my colleagues. Synergy is the key for business.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

I don’t think there is any book that really had an impact on my leadership. I have always learned by experience. I think learning by doing is the best way for the most effective result. It takes courage and it starts from real life experience. Developing discipline in the professional and personal life is important to be an effective leader.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?

I have a close contact with my young staff. I think young people are the basis for the future. What’s important is to combine my great experience with the new ways of communicating which young people are expert of. For me to listen to their ideas is the most important leadership skills that I acquire from my long experience. Experience and new young talented way of think is the perfect combination. This combination is what builds my leadership.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?

There would be too many stories to tell. Every time I work and I face a new project, I create a new important and unique story. Maybe my first great story is the first PC Forum IBM. It was a milestone for communication and I felt honored to be part of it.