Be bold enough to fight for what you believe in

Francesca Benati

General Manager and Managing Director, Amadeus Italy

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Growing up, my sisters and I watched our mother tirelessly fight for what she believed in, building a brilliant career in a male-dominated world. In between writing articles - she was a very well-known journalist in Italy - and defending consumer’s rights – she founded the first consumer’s association– she also managed to join the European Parliament leading the consumer associations.



Wondering how she accomplished all of that and raised three daughters? Little sleep, tenacity and of course: my father. My sisters and I were very lucky to have a very present father but most importantly, two people to look up to.

Her battles taught us to fight for what you want and not to give up, and my father showed us that it was possible to have a career and a personal life. As we celebrateInternational Women’s Day, I want to share my story and tell you what led me to#beboldforchange.


From biology to advertising

Despite my biology background, I found my passion in the advertising world. It was my never-ending curiosity that led me to apply to a national tender and after passing all the exams and going through a year’s training, I was relocated to an advertising company.

It was the end of the 80’s and advertising was expanding as Italy came out of a recession. As my career progressed – I moved from one company to another – I found out I was pregnant with my first child. Unfortunately, I had a complicated pregnancy which meant I had to stay home for 9 months.

Imagine my disappointment when I came back from maternity leave to discover my role didn’t exist anymore. To my surprise, my director asked me to go see him with the baby - apparently he had trouble picturing me as a mother. Clearly what they saw in me prior to me becoming a mother wasn’t there anymore: my career in the company had come to a halt because I was a woman and a mother.


Organization, empathy and support

My next move was a thrilling but exhausting role that included frequent travel – up to 6 flights per week – but I could count on my husband, who has always been supportive of my career. Without an organized emotional and professional setup I could never have taken some of the jobs I’ve had.

Unfortunately, in 2004 the company had to lay off 40% of their employees and, for the first time ever, I found myself without a job. It wasn’t all bad: I spent a lot of time with my son, learned new languages, practiced sports…but I knew it wasn’t going to be long before I found another job.

Five months later I was hired by a consultancy firm and pregnant with my second child. The experience was totally different: my general manager was very supportive of me and I was able to keep working until December 31st - my baby was born on January 3rd. I felt just how efficient you can be if the environment allows you to live your maternity the best way possible.

I have also worked for companies with male-dominated environments, where I was the only woman with direct business responsibility on the board. Sometimes there was too much aggressiveness and that’s something you need to watch out for: the risk of losing empathy is very real.


Value people as individuals

So, how did I end up at Amadeus? I was approached on LinkedIn and I replied two minutes later! Why? Amadeus is the type of company you immediately answer. It has been three years and I feel very much at ease. Amadeus is special, it’s the company where I’ve most felt diversity. People are valued as individuals, beyond all else. And this is real and evident across the entire organization.

I hope that my story will give you the courage to#beboldforchangeand never ever give up. It can be difficult but women have powerful tools: emotional intelligence and empathy. So, if you want something, go out and do it!


Diversity, Events