Michaela Castelli, Of Counsel, Simmons & Simmons
How long have you been working for your current company?
Nearly 2 years.
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
Between 1994 and 2000 I worked at Chiomenti and Ughi Nunziante e associati Law firms and at the London Branch of Banca Intesa in the capital market department. I was admitted to the Italian bar in 1997. From 2001 to the end of 2009, I worked for Borsa Italiana S.p.A., the Italian Stock Exchange that is part of the London Stock Exchange Group. I have gained extensive experience in the debt and equity capital markets sector as the head of listing and legal affairs department. My position entailed advising issuers and financial institutions on a considerable number of financial instruments listing processes, IPOs, secondary offerings, listings, dual listings and public tender offers on the Italian main and junior markets. I also supported listed companies in relation to stock exchange regulatory issues and related corporate matters. I implement the 231 Project in Borsa Italiana (anti bribery regulation) and I am the secretary for the supervisory body (Organismo di Vigilanza).
I also sat on the revision committee relating to “Corporate governance principles applicable to Italian listed companies” in 2006.
I am currently of counsel for Simmons & Simmons. My position entails advising Italian and international companies, financial institutions and private equity houses on IPO’s, regulatory issues, compliance and corporate governance matters.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
In the last two years, after the Italian Stock exchange experience, I’ve been appointed as a member of the board of directors and board of auditors of relevant listed and unlisted companies.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
I try to work with the same enthusiasm, passion and accuracy I would if it were the first day I started to work, even if I’m tired - and some days I'm extremely tired!
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
As mother of three, I appreciate the flexibility that consultancy offers. In my situation, the key to successfully achieving a satisfactory work-life balance is planning.
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?
Not really. During my career I learnt something from everyone I met and worked with. I made a lot of friends who have supported me and with whom I am still very close.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
I believe that corporate diversity initiatives are a positive thing provided that they have been well thought out and are focused on increasing a culture of diversity and contribute to creating a positive and fair field.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
Around thirty, after I got married. My professional world is particularly sensitive to the “pregnancy risk”.
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
We have demonstrated that there is actually a third option: a satisfactory professional life without having to give up having a family. It is definitely hard and challenging, but if you do it successfully then everybody admits that it is a great achievement.