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Gilda D’Incerti of PQE Group: “To always believe in yourself and never allow anyone to tell you otherwise”

Being the CEO of a company does not only mean having greater responsibilities in terms of business. Holding the highest office also means having to set an example of loyalty and fairness, but above all I believe that those in CEO roles tell their vision, convincing, through daily actions, employees to share it and pursue […]

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Being the CEO of a company does not only mean having greater responsibilities in terms of business. Holding the highest office also means having to set an example of loyalty and fairness, but above all I believe that those in CEO roles tell their vision, convincing, through daily actions, employees to share it and pursue it together.


As a part of our series about strong women leaders, we had the pleasure of interviewing Gilda D’Incerti.

Gilda D’Incerti CEO & founder of PQE Group recognized as an international expert in the IT field of system validation and transformed her company from a small family business to a multinational corporate company. Gilda stands strong behind her mission to create as many jobs for people as possible which is evident as the company now has 900 employees worldwide. This has led to Gilda receiving an honorable recognition of Territory Ambassador for the Tuscany region by the Senate of the Italian Republic.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I graduated in statistics in 1978: certainly not the usual title for a woman in those years. It all started with my desire to go beyond customs, trying to make room for myself as a woman in an often male-dominated and patriarchal society. Therefore, when a London consultancy company fired me I decided to come back to Italy to found PQE: a small start-up with great potential, where anyone could demonstrate their professional skills.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

A nice early anecdote could be when I went to the station to pick up the man who would later become my partner in the company. At first, we were not able to find each other at the station simply because we had imagined one another completely different than how we really were

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I can’t say it was just one person who helped me. I am grateful to all those who along this path have allowed me to grow professionally and humanly and have built the success of the company with me: from the colleagues who started this adventure with me in 1998 to my new collaborators and employees who through their actions and enthusiasm gave new life to my business idea.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

I wake up very early in the morning and this allows me to be able to take some time for myself, doing free body exercises, reading a good book, not forgetting to read journalistic articles to stay informed. On weekends when I can, I dedicate myself to long walks. I find it the best way to release the stress accumulated during the week.

As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

I strongly believe that diversity is a great added value for a business. My goal as an entrepreneur, which I repeat on every occasion, is to give work to as many people as possible without distinction of sex, race, religion, or age. This is because diversity means differentiation and therefore growth: both for the employee who feels proud of belonging to an inclusive group, and for the image of the company that acquires greater value.

As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.

I believe to have a more equitable society, it is simply necessary to respect, in every way. If each individual lives their daily life respecting others and their freedoms, surely ours would be a better society, in which integration prevails over discrimination, and in which kindness prevails over arrogance.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

Being the CEO of a company does not only mean having greater responsibilities in terms of business. Holding the highest office also means having to set an example of loyalty and fairness, but above all I believe that those in CEO roles tell their vision, convincing, through daily actions, employees to share it and pursue it together.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

I never understood why, but the CEO always creates terror: we are normal people with a normal life. So much so that another myth could relate to the fact that a CEO of a company thinks only and exclusively of the business: that is not true, and being the mother of three sons is proof of this!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Certainly motherhood and all that goes with it. And unfortunately, although there has been progress in our society in this regard, there is still a long way to go to achieve parity.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

I consider myself very lucky because I have always had the opportunity to do a job that I liked in the ways and times I have chosen. Therefore, I have never found too many differences between what my job is and what I would like it to be.

Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?

In reality, I believe that everyone can become an executive if they really want to, there is no recipe for the perfect leader. Surely it is necessary first of all to be objective and aware of your abilities. Once this first step has been passed, I believe that the tenacity to achieve the goal and the courage in dealing with every situation are the two most important characteristics, without ever forgetting ethics and fairness.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

To always believe in yourself and never allow anyone to tell you otherwise. You have what it takes to achieve everything you set your mind to.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

As I often say, you don’t need to be Bill Gates to change the world. Everyone in their own small way can do their part. For this reason, in the company, we have introduced numerous social responsibility campaigns through which we allow our employees the opportunity to do voluntary work and be themselves to make their contribution. For example, last year, 10 employees paid by the company, went to Kathmandu, Nepal to volunteer at an elementary school. Experiences like these are certainly informative and help people to see difficult situations closely that inevitably allows them to look at reality from a different perspective, thus becoming more aware citizens and consequently more responsible.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Believe in yourself, do what you like, follow your dreams, you don’t need a man by your side to move forward, be positive. When I started PQE in 1988, the company was a start-up in Florence to now having offices in over 14 countries with almost 900 employees worldwide. Never give up on what you believe in.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

A movement linked to environmental protection, because this is a global issue that involves all of us. At the same time, as you will have understood, I am for equal opportunities and in the past, I have always been part of associations that fought for human rights.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My life lesson quote is by Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

This sentence is the perfect summary of my philosophy of life both as a mother and a woman and as an entrepreneur: to be an example, but at the same time to change, to think about others, but with a view to sharing, to look forward with enthusiasm and the desire to always get involved.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them

Nancy Pelosi, an inspiring, powerful woman who is a trailblazer and made history by becoming the first female speaker of the House. An individual who stands for diversity and empowering other women.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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