Women in Business: Manon Antoniazzi, CEO at Visit Wales

Manon Antoniazzi

Manon Antoniazzi

Manon Antoniazzi was recently appointed to the role of Chief Executive Officer, Tourism and Marketing for Wales within the Welsh Government. Prior to this she worked in the private sector as a specialist in leadership development and was a member of the household of the Prince of Wales, where she served as a senior Private Secretary from 2004-2012. Manon has worked in public affairs and governance at the BBC, as Secretary of BBC Wales and subsequently Head of Public Policy, Nations and Regions. She has also worked as Director of Communications at the National Assembly for Wales and Head of Press and Public Relations at S4C.

Manon is a former Chairman of The Prince’s Trust Cymru and Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company and has served on the advisory boards of the Philharmonia Orchestra and Welsh National Opera. She is currently a Non-Executive Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. She holds a doctorate in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today.

Like most people, I have always worked best when driven by things that interest me and about which I feel passionately.  My first job (after finishing a PhD in Medieval Welsh Poetry) was at Welsh Water where I was tasked with drawing up a policy for bilingualism across the various groups in the company. This was a great introduction to commercial life and taught me a lot about balancing principles and practicalities.  It proved the start of a varied career which has spanned marketing, communications, governance, policy and management work – the unifying thread has been cultural content.  Each job has had elements within it that have led to the next and I’ve been fortunate to twice have had the chance to return in an enhanced role to a previous employer, showing that it can sometimes pay to be bold about career moves.  Having made that start in the private sector, I have also worked in the public sector and the third sector, so I have an appreciation of the strengths – and frustrations – of each.

How has your life experience made you the individual you are today?

Definitely the most defining experience was the birth of my daughter.  I was pregnant when I was appointed as Assistant Private Secretary to The Prince of Wales in 1993 and started work in Clarence House when Indeg (now 20) was 5 months old.  It was a crash course in combining motherhood with a very busy and demanding job and on top of it all I had to move to London.  I don’t believe I will face many things that testing again!

Has there been a particular role that has propelled your career into a different direction to what you were expecting?

I haven’t been prescriptive about planning a career, but probably the most striking change of direction came when I was at S4C, the Welsh language broadcaster, as their head of Press and Public Relations.  The channel had developed a strong expertise in animation which had potential to be marketed in different language versions around the world.  One project was an animated film of The Prince of Wales’s book The Old Man of Lochnagar and I found myself not only co-ordinating a press launch, but also coaching HRH to deliver a Welsh-language voiceover (not that he needed much coaching).  Next thing, I was asked whether I’d be interested in my name going forward as a potential Assistant Private Secretary in his office.  It was approaching the 25th anniversary of his Investiture in Caernarfon Castle and it was thought a good idea to have a private secretary on the team from Wales.  It was a two-year secondment which was to turn into an eighteen-year professional association…  I was privileged to get to know the UK from a unique perspective and work in partnership with some of Britain’s leading cultural and charitable organisations.

Tell us about your role at Visit Wales.

I was appointed eighteen months ago to work with the talented team responsible for developing the tourism sector and maximising its contribution to the Welsh economy.  As part of the Welsh Government, we invest strategically in individual tourism projects and major events and are also responsible for marketing Wales domestically and overseas.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your time at Visit Wales?

We had an excellent year last year, helped by fine weather, but of course also by some very focussed marketing work!  Highlights include the current celebrations of Dylan Thomas’s centenary, the chance to host a meeting of NATO in September in Newport, and the opportunity to appreciate through local visits just how far the industry has developed in the last few decades.  Challenges boil down to making the most of our resources to make an impact in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

For a reader who is thinking of visiting Wales what would you recommend that they see and do?

The website www.visitwales.co.uk  has a wealth of information on what to see and do – be that for a family holiday, luxury weekend or activity trip.  As the Wales Coast Path has just celebrated its second anniversary, why not tackle some of the 870 mile long path. Rhossili Beach has recently been named as the best beach in the UK and among the top ten in the world – and there are plenty more fantastic beaches to explore along the coast path.  The Dylan Thomas 100 festival adds to our wealth of festivals and events this year as we celebrate the centenary of his birth, an opportunity to discover more about the poet and the places which inspired him.   There’s plenty of on offer to get the adrenaline going too, from Zip Wires to downhill mountain bike tracks and of course, no visit to Wales would be complete without a visit to one of our 641 castles.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I work long hours, but do so in order to protect time off with the family, who will let me know quickly enough if I’m getting it wrong.  There are plenty of things I love doing outside work, such as reading, playing the harp and running, so I don’t allow work to expand to fit all the available time.  I am fortunate to have an excellent team around me – that makes it much easier to share the burden.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I have had great advice at various stages in my career, not least from my parents.  Outside the family, one former boss is still someone to whom I turn every time I contemplate a new career move.  On the professional front, I worked on a project a few years ago to help an international mentoring company called CMi establish an office in London – our purpose was to match up high flying (board level FTSE100) executives with experienced Chairman who could mentor them, utilising lessons learnt from experience rather than from theory books.  This has left me with great respect for that mode of working and the benefits gained by both parties from developing strong privileged relationships with people who are just distant enough from your work to be objective.  It proved particularly useful for women in business – irrespective of the gender of their mentors.  You do have to establish excellent chemistry though, so it isn’t entirely straightforward to find the right match.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

I lapped up Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In last year.  I think it should be required reading for young women.  It is still too difficult to achieve success on the same terms as men in some sectors and getting the tone right can be tough.  I have learnt a lot from female bosses I have had over the years, from Menna Richards at BBC Wales to Jenny Abramsky at the Heritage Lottery Fund and Welsh Government Minister Edwina Hart.

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Women In Web Weekly Round-Up

WEEKLY ROUND UP TEMP

We’ve had a busy week at Women In and are working on some exciting features that we can’t wait to introduce you to soon!

Did you read this week’s fascinating Q&As? The first was with AAUW’s Vice-President of  Campus Leadership Programs, Kate Farrar, where she told us more about the fantastic work the organisation is doing to train young women for student government and political office through their Elect Her program. Make sure you check it out!

We also spoke to Joy Kent, Chief Executive of Chwarae Teg, and one of Women In’s Advocates. Joy has had a fascinating career in the private and public sector, and her life story is one of strength and determination. Be inspired to make a difference this weekend by checking out the feature. 

This week’s thought-provoking question from Ena is “Would you move cities/countries for a new job?” Share your answer with us on Twitter and Facebook.

Other stories that have caught our eye this week include…

In light of the tragic death of fashion designer L ‘Wren Scott, The Independent looks at how the media view women

Research by Business Environment suggests that women still feel discriminated against in British workplaces

The UN Commission on the Status of the Women produces a document that promotes equality for women

Olympic cycling champion Nicole Cooke calls for women’s sport to have equal coverage on the BBC

A fascinating article by Sallie Krawcheck in Time about diversifying corporate America

Let us know your thoughts in the comments or by connecting with us on our social media channels!

 

Women in Journalism: Laura Trevelyan, Anchor, BBC World News America

Laura Trevelyan, BBC

Laura Trevelyan, BBC

Tell us about your journey to where you are today.

Aged eight, I typed out a newspaper about life on our street in North London called the Cantelowes Gleaner – and that was the start of my journalistic career! The headline was a cat killed by a car. At Bristol University I wrote for student publications, then studied for a postgraduate diploma in journalism at Cardiff University.

My first job was as a local newspaper reporter in London – fantastic experience visiting police stations and covering local council meetings – and then I became a researcher for a Channel 4 TV programme A Week In Politics. That was my foot in the broadcasting door – and then I went to the BBC as a researcher on Breakfast News. This was the best introduction to the nuts and bolts of making TV – and from there I became a political reporter for a Sunday lunchtime TV show On The Record, spending a lot of time in Northern Ireland just after the IRA ceasefire.

Then I became a political correspondent for the BBC’s network news – and in 2004 moved here to the US, where I’ve been the BBC’s UN correspondent, New York correspondent and now an anchor of the BBC’s World News America broadcast.

How has your life experience shaped you as an individual?

As a teenager, I was an air cadet and learned to fly a glider, hike and camp. At university I was in the Air Squadron and flew a Bulldog aircraft solo, one of the first women in the country to do so as part of a pilot scheme to see how female pilots would fare in the RAF (Royal Air Force). All this taught me that if you’re determined and organized there’s nothing you can’t do. Per Ardua Ad Astra is the RAF motto – through hardship to the stars – and I’ve always found that inspiring.

How have you learned from these challenges and successes?

I learned to push myself, to take responsibility, and to understand that every setback teaches you something. At the air squadron, I was determined to be the first in my class to fly solo – and because the boys were studying engineering and I was an English student, I had more spare time and thus a huge advantage. I wasn’t a better pilot (in fact my navigation was sub-optimal!) but I put in more time at the airfield and did go solo first.

Laura takes part in a Twitter Q&A

Laura takes part in a Twitter Q&A

From Hurricane Sandy to the Boston Marathon bombing, you’ve covered some of the most dramatic events that have taken place in the USA. What have been some of the highlights and challenges during your broadcasting career?

Live broadcasting is always exciting, and sometimes extremely dramatic, as it was during the manhunt for the Boston suspects. Looking back over 20 odd years at the BBC, there are more than a few highlights. After all night negotiations in Belfast, as dawn broke and the Good Friday Agreement had taken shape, I was reporting live with a strong sense that this was a historic, hopeful moment after the bloodshed of the troubles. Covering the run up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 at the House of Commons was another momentous time – the arm twisting that went on behind the scenes in Westminster, to get the votes to authorize the invasion, was something to behold. I was in the air between Washington and Tokyo when news broke of Dr David Kelly’s death – (a government scientist who doubted the government ‘s claims about WMD in Iraq,) and that led to a frantic 48 hours in Japan with the then PM Tony Blair.

Covering the UN was also an eye opener. A trip to Burma with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis was dramatic, culminating in a trip to see the Burmese Generals in their brand new capital, far from the suffering of those affected by the cyclone.

Covering the cholera epidemic in Haiti not long after the earthquake was a challenge. It was desperately sad to see people dying of a disease that is so easily treated – and in a setting that had already been ravaged by a devastating earthquake. But the courage and resilience of Haitians was also a lesson in grace under pressure.

Live broadcasting is not without its perils and numbers have been my undoing! At Westminster I once got the result of a vote wrong by reading the numbers backwards. When the editor of the six o clock news called to say well done, I had to explain my error…

What advice can you offer to women seeking a career in the media?

I would give the same advice as to men, at least initially – be accurate, determined, resourceful, organized, trustworthy, punctual and know what you want. To be a journalist you have to like people and you need to have excellent people skills or you won’t get anywhere. You must be passionate about wanting to tell the ever-changing story of our world, and responsible in the way you do it. Always be prepared to make the tea – or in the US, the cupcakes – and be kind to those who are in jobs that may not be as exciting as yours.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

I think it is the age-old question of balancing children and work. This is a responsibility which in general, still falls to women. So if you want to work in news and be a mother, you have to organize your life accordingly, planning for a breaking news scenario. In my case, that has always meant having live-in childcare. But even that isn’t infallible. I recently said no to a story that would have had me on one continent, my children on another and my husband on a third. That didn’t feel right!

Laura interviews Michel J. Martelly, President of Haiti

Laura interviews Michel J. Martelly, President of Haiti

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

That’s a work in progress! My neighborhood in Brooklyn is like a village, so I bump into my friends just by walking down the street with my kids. I’m in several book groups, which are a wonderful way to catch up, gossip and briefly discuss a book. I love to play tennis, and am constantly striving to improve my mediocre game! Playing cards with my boys is also a good way to hang out. In the summer, we head to the beach at the weekends.

As a Brit living in the USA, how has living in a different country changed your lifestyle and approach to life?

There’s no doubt that Americans – and New Yorkers in particular – are more go getting, ambitious and overtly competitive. It’s quite a change to the cosy consensus of home. I’ve found Americans to be enormously warm and open, which is rather different to the reserved English. Americans are also more direct. Here, people will invite a stranger to Thanksgiving at the drop of a hat – it’s almost a civic duty to welcome a stranger. So I have absorbed this different approach to life.

You released your first book in 2006. What is your next writing project?

Yes, my last book was about my Victorian Trevelyan relatives, famous historians and politicians in their day. This one is about my American family – the Winchesters, of Winchester rifle fame (my American grandmother married an Englishman and moved to Cambridge, England). The Winchester rifle was one of the first repeating rifles that fired more than one round at once – and my great great great grandfather Oliver Winchester set up the Winchester company in New Haven and became famous for manufacturing the gun that won the west. So it’s the story of the family behind the gun that was crucial in the settling of the American West. If I can just manage to finish it, it’ll come out in 2015.

Laura covers President Obama's Inauguration in 2013

Laura covers President Obama’s Inauguration in 2013

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I wouldn’t say I had ever been formally mentored, exactly. But Sue Macgregor, the legendary Today programme presenter on Radio 4, was a huge supporter when I was a young reporter on the show. When Anna Ford was the presenter of the One O Clock News on BBC1, she was also very generous and supportive. The same goes for Martha Kearney, when she was the political editor of Newsnight and I was a reporter there. Martha is an insightful journalist and superb interviewer who was always kind and encouraging.

Who are your role models?

Sue Macgregor and Anna Ford, who forged ahead when it really was a man’s world. Right now, I would say Lyse Doucet is my role model – she is a brilliant on the ground reporter, who tells human stories from conflict zones with such care, and she’s a top presenter. She’s also a wonderful colleague. Mishal Hussein is the most natural live broadcaster in the world and makes it all look effortless.

What is one word that sums up where you have got to today?

Perseverance!

Laura Trevelyan is an anchor of the BBC’s US newscast BBC’s World News America which broadcasts on the BBC’s global 24 hour news channel BBC World News.

Laura was the BBC’s UN correspondent from 2006 to 2009. As the BBC’s United Nations Correspondent, she covered the diplomatic activity at United Nations HQ in New York, and the world body’s humanitarian and peacekeeping work in the field. She travelled with the new UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on his first overseas trip, which was to Africa in January 2007.

Laura has reported from Darfur on the UN’s attempts to deploy peacekeepers there, and from the International Criminal Court in the Hague when the Prosecutor accused Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir of committing war crimes and genocide in Darfur. She has also reported from Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya on the UN’s work there. When Ban Ki-moon went to Burma to meet the ruling generals after Cyclone Nargis, she was one of only a handful of journalists to accompany him.  Laura covered the 2008 US presidential race, reporting on the primary campaign and President George Bush’s visit to Africa in February 2008, reporting from Liberia, Ghana, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Before moving to New York in 2004, Laura was a Political Correspondent for BBC TV and radio news, appointed in June 1999. She covered the conservative campaign in the 2001 General Election across all BBC TV and radio news outlets, reported for the BBC’s Newsnight programme, and then reported on the 2004 US Presidential Election for BBC News outlets in the UK.

Laura’s first job at the BBC was in 1993 as a researcher for Breakfast News. From there she moved to Newsnight as an assistant producer, before joining BBC One’s On The Record as a reporter in 1994, during which she covered the Northern Ireland peace process after the IRA ceasefire.

Laura was educated at Parliament Hill Girls School in North London before going on to gain a first class degree in politics from Bristol University in 1990 and a postgraduate diploma in journalism from the University of Wales College, Cardiff in 1991. She began her career as a general reporter for London Newspaper Group titles, such as the Hammersmith Chronicle in 1991. She joined Channel 4 as a researcher on A Week In Politics in 1992.

In 2006, Laura published a book about her ancestors: A Very British Family, The Trevelyans And Their World.