Maricla Pennesi, Partner and Head of the Italian Tax practice, DLA Piper Italy.
How long have you been working for your current company?
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I have spent most of my career as a tax expert with the Big Four, advising multinational clients on international taxation. My international experience is a very valuable asset for my current position.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
Becoming partner represented my first and greatest achievement; even though this was in reality the beginning of new journey, it represented special recognition for my efforts spent reaching a professional goal.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
At present, the greatest challenge is to face the markets, especially the Italian one. To succeed in this difficult period I believe that key priorities are to strengthen the firm's reputation, quality of delivery and team dynamic.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
It is difficult, despite the fact that I have been working on it for 24 years! Nevertheless, motivation and a desire to progress and learn sustains my never-ending quest for perfection.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who were they and how did they help you?
My first mentor and role model was one of my professors at university: he was innovative, a great expert and a straight forward person. I learned a great deal from him: how to be enthusiastic about your job and how to share that enthusiasm with your students and team.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
In Italy, I'm convinced we have to fill this huge gap so gender quotas are just the beginning, nothing more. Our culture should change in terms of individual attitudes, meaning opportunities will finally become available naturally. Women will keep going, as usual.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
Not really, even though I would admit that in certain circumstances it would have been easier and quicker as a male to achieve certain goals.
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
The greater presence of women within partnerships, as well as their increased responsibilities and related remunerations.