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Women in ICT Feature: Lidia Folli

Where excellence meets innovation at the edge of leadership and vision

“Women can do this role with ease... They just need to put their hands up, focus on building their skill sets, and take the opportunities that step in their way. There's no guaranteed route to leadership so make your own, by leveraging your skills, your passion and your commitment to personal growth.” - Lidia Folli, CEO: Bidtravel

There are many paths to becoming the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an organisation. There's the education path, the two year climb up the slopes of an MBA; the unexpected opportunity; and the mentor who helps guide you from fresh-faced recruit to leader of an organisation. For Lidia Folli, the CEO of Bidtravel, it was the latter that took her from Chartered Accountant (CA) to head of a leading travel organisation as senior leaders recognised the value she brought to the business and gave her the opportunities she needed to grow into a leadership role.

Certainly, the travel industry has been hard hit by Covid-19 and companies have needed strong leadership to help them navigate incredibly uncertain times. For Folli, this has allowed her to truly test her abilities as a CEO and to find new ways of building a successful working environment despite the limitations placed on travel.

“I think the skills of all CEOs have been tested throughout this year,” she adds. “As an industry, we have been severely impacted and yet we've managed to find ways of providing services and solutions to organisations and individuals that have had to travel throughout these difficult times. Nothing prepared us for what the pandemic wrought, but now is the time for us to invest into technology and enhance experiences and support our people so that our business can flourish in the times ahead. It has certainly reinforced, for me, the value of agility and the importance of removing barriers for those who need to work from home.”

The CEO is required to be the balancing force in the organisation, recognising the challenges but equally paying attention to the responsibilities they have to stakeholders and customers. It's a role that asks for those wearing its shoes to be quick thinkers, ready to adapt to environments and priorities that can change on a daily basis.

“These are the qualities that are required of any CEO to just get the job done,” says Folli. “You need to pull multiple skill sets together, to surround yourself with subject matter experts so you can use their knowledge when needed, and you need to be ready to change your approaches to meet stakeholder, business and customer requirements. This is not a role that's staid and steady, it's variable, exciting and dynamic.” Folli concludes.

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