Francesca Ludovico

Tech Talent Acquisition & Operations, Looking for next challenge

1. When did you first stand up to your parents...what was the issue and...were you right?

When I decided what university to take: already years before the end of high school, I knew I wanted to leave home. My mom wanted me to go to a university nearby, where I could live with her and commute. It was also a more “prestigious” one, however, I decided to go against what she wanted and after several fights, I went to a less “prestigious” university where I had the chance to live alone, do some side jobs to pay my bills, really grow up and be more independent. I grew up in a very strict family, where I was always pressured to be a top performer and conform to certain rules and I could never be myself… that was the first time that I finally felt free so yes… I was definitely right. No prestigious university or free accommodation will give me the amazing feeling of freedom that I felt during those years!

2. At what age did you become an adult? What happened, and how did you know?

I went away from home when I was 15 to live with a family in Spain and babysit their 7-year-old daughter for a few months (the parents were still there but they wanted additional help while they were at work). While I was mature for my age, I was still a teenager that had never left home; it seemed scary at the beginning because my Spanish wasn’t really good, and nobody around me spoke English, I never visited big foreign cities alone, I had only helped babysit my younger cousins but never did that professionally so I ended up crying the whole first week with the kid being the one cheering me up and saying that “it’s okay to cry because she would cry too if she was away from home in a foreign country”. She was super sweet and wise. However, after a week I started to feel more comfortable speaking Spanish, making also some mistakes and I created a beautiful bond with the kid and the rest of the family members. It was a great experience that helped me grow a lot, I became more independent and more mature and I learned a lot about empathy and care for others.

3. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?

Going to Pilates classes twice per week. I needed more balance in my life, and I thought that an activity like Pilates will not only give me more balance physically but also mentally: it helped me create healthy habits, it taught me how to stop and think, how my body and mind are strongly connected, how to practice self-care… and it’s also great for better performance in other physical (and mental) activities.

4. When was the last time you changed your mind about something really important? What was it and what led you to change your view?

Since when I started working in the tech industry I always thought that I wanted to climb the corporate ladder and eventually become a VP… however recently this changed. I realised that for me, this is not what matters, that the really important things in life are staying with your loved ones, enjoying life and creating good memories outside of work and in my experience those types of jobs might require you to give up a lot of your personal life for the company… don’t get me wrong, I love my career and I want to grow but in a way that doesn’t hinder my personal life and the time spent with my loved ones, and I believe that once you reach a certain level in terms of seniority or leadership, it’s really easy for your job to become the main aspect of your life and identity.

5. If I were to go to people who don't think very highly of you, what do you think they would say about you?

Probably that I’m careless, aloof, unapproachable, and at times quite sassy. Most likely they’re right. If I don’t like you, these things are all true. I’m not going to actively offend you but I’ll stay away from you, and if you say something annoying to me you can easily expect a sassy comment in return.

6. What’s one misconception people generally have about you?

That I’m shy: I’m not, I’m just an introvert living in a world made for extroverts. I can be incredibly open and talkative when I feel comfortable and I’m in the right environment, however, I will also need quiet time and if I’m forced to be in a busy environment in those moments it will look like I’m afraid to interact while I’m simply dying to be at home with my cats sipping a cup of tea on the couch!

7. Have you always had the same political beliefs? If so, why do you think you have held them so long? If not, what event caused you to change your view?

I’ve always considered myself an advocate for minorities, what now it’s called an “ally” even before this term existed, and the type of person that likes to welcome differences. I didn’t get the best examples in my country (I come from Italy, a country with a lot of corruption, and a backward mentality in general, and my family wasn’t the most “modern” either), so even before knowing what politics was, I had my own ideas of what was right and what was wrong. I think looking at how the political situation across the globe fluctuates based -mostly on financial factors is what makes me even more connected to my ideals. When I see how now the oppression of human rights especially against women, PoC, LGBTQ+ community, and the blame on who is considered “different” is becoming more and more prominent, I feel even stronger about my ideals. I believe we all should do our part to fight oppression and ensure those DE&I values that organisations (and companies) like to preach about are actually applied in our day-to-day life, both for personal and professional purposes.

8) When was the last time you felt like an outsider in a group? What/How did you learn?

I’m an expat that has been living in many different countries so being an outsider is part of who I am. When you’re an expat that travels so much you end up feeling like an outsider in the country(ies) where you live as well as in your own country. But it’s not necessarily a negative thing, I kinda got used to it. So currently I’m feeling like an outsider as an expat living in The Netherlands where (almost) all of my friends have kids so are too busy to hang out or have moved away to other countries. I do feel a bit lonely at times, but it’s not too bad. This time alone is making me more introspective, I have the chance to focus on my hobbies and self-care. I would like to have a group of friends again and I’m sure that it will come at some point

9) What would be the perfect gift that someone could buy you right now?

Korean skincare products! (As long as they are vegan) No, honestly, I am obsessed with them. I always knew they were good, but I didn’t realise they were THIS good. I started to use them recently after watching “XO, Kitty” on Netflix (please don’t judge, I like silly TV shows and I’m definitely a victim of marketing) and they literally changed my skin.

10) Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

I would love to take a sabbatical and travel the world with my partner… starting from South-East Asia and maybe in the future also other countries and continents. I had it planned a few years ago but the pandemic happened and I had to cancel it. I think it would be a great opportunity to grow, connect with other cultures, let go of some things that are holding me back and learn more about myself. Before I didn’t do it because of the pandemic… now because unfortunately my financial situation has changed and I don’t have the same level of stability as before.

11) If you were to own a bar, and you could design it how you wanted, what would it look like?

It would be an animal shelter/cafe’ where animal lovers could come to connect with each other, maybe contribute by volunteering to take care of the animals and/or organise activities with them such as pet therapy, or simply playing and cuddling them… I’d have a big garden where I would keep a lot of rescue dogs (with indoor access for them) and another indoor-to-outdoor area with rescue cats. All the animals will be available for adoption for people that want to take care of them and give them a loving home. Maybe I would even add a section for small animals such as Guineapigs, Bunnies, Chinchillas, etc… The design would be simple but with a modern-industrial look (maybe what people would consider “hipster”) with a lot of toys, comfy areas, and elevated spots for the animals!
If it’s not clear… I really love animals!

12. If you could witness one moment in history which one would it be and why?

 It may sound like a cliche’, but most likely it would be witnessing the first trip into Space, or even better being part of it. I think something like this can really give an idea of how insignificant and small we are in the biggest scheme of things, it can put a lot of things into perspective and teach how to let go of certain negative behaviours and patterns. And on top of that it would simply be really cool to be in Space, be the first one and judge everyone from above!

13. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received? Who gave it and when?

“Don’t give 100% of your effort to your job from the start, because your boss will most likely expect more and more from you and you’ll end up burnt out”.

A former colleague and good friend of mine gave me this piece of advice when I started a role a few years ago. She’s now a successful entrepreneur and a person I look up to. She was right but at the beginning, I didn’t listen and did the exact opposite and gave 200%. I was a great performer but I got burnt out several times! Oh well… At least I learned my lesson!

14. What's a skill that isn’t on your resume, but your former bosses would recognize as one of the reasons you are successful?

My ability to spot BS. I can smell it miles away, I can see when somebody is not being authentic, or if they are actually incompetent and try to mask it by blabbing random stuff… I’m like a truffle dog for BS!

15. What role do you find yourself playing when you join a newly formed team? Can you explain why this happens?

Whether I want it or not, I often end up being some sort of leadership figure, be it a team lead or a project manager of some sort. I’ve been told by several people and team members that I am a “natural leader” because I am structured, confident, empathetic, and reliable and this inspires trust in others. All great compliments and I appreciate it, just sometimes it’s a lot of pressure and if I’m not mindful enough, I might end up being too stressed or burnt out.

16. Have you ever been the weakest member of a team? How did you handle it?

I did. I was the only woman and the most junior employee in a team of all men and it was a constant of sexist remarks, bro-hole mentality, and quite inappropriate jokes, especially towards women. I wasn’t great at my job and while it was for sure about me being inexperienced, I also didn’t get a good onboarding and training so I ended up making a lot of mistakes, while also navigating that super toxic environment which, I believe, didn’t help making me a stronger employee. I reported the whole thing to HR who brushed it off with “They are joking, don’t take it so seriously”. So, after this, I decided to handle this whole thing in the pettiest way possible by making even more inappropriate jokes and saying the exact same things they were saying just toward them. They started to feel uncomfortable and said that “a woman shouldn’t act that way” and eventually they toned it down a bit. In the end, I quit that job obviously, but most likely they wouldn’t have renewed my contract anyway since I clearly wasn’t a “culture fit”.

17. When it comes to our work and industry: what scares you most?

The low entry bar. Becoming a recruiter is incredibly easy and this leads to a lot of people that are unmotivated, careless, and eventually low performing. TA professionals have a bad name and there’s a reason for that. Then, many of these people grow into becoming leaders and contribute to the toxicity and the poor bias towards our industry, as well as the lack of respect that we get because we’re seen as disposable once the market becomes more challenging. (see current market)

18. What is your biggest professional regret? What do you think might have happened otherwise?

I should have gone into software engineering. I wanted to, but my family was strongly against it and while I managed to go to the university I wanted to, I couldn’t fight another battle also for the type of studies, I was already exhausted from the first one, so I picked the second thing I liked and that my family approved of (linguistics), which turned out to be pretty useless professionally speaking. I honestly believe that if I took that path I’d be an awesome engineer (and most likely I wouldn’t be unemployed now): I went into engineering recruitment which is the closest thing I could get but if I seriously tried to become a software engineer now I’d need to start from the beginning and I cannot afford a junior salary at this stage of my life.

19. If you could add a question for the next person to answer, what would it be?

“What is something that you did that you thought you’d never do in your life?”

If I also have to answer: learning how to do tattoos and making a tattoo on myself! I would have never thought about it before, but one day I randomly decided to pick this new skill and I did it!

20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?

My partner, David Kavanagh.
He would give great insights, he’s great at storytelling, and would make a very interesting read for these 20 questions!

Thank you to Francesca Ludovico for taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune. Make sure to follow Francesca on LinkedIn.

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