Stefania S. pictured second from right
I started work at 18 when I left my home city of Turin, Italy to move to Paris, France. I worked at Disneyland Paris for a couple of years. These were great times and I learned about teamwork and customer care.
I went from there to Eurofighter and have never left. My career path here has been fast, never annoying and quite challenging. I started supporting the events team and as the years went by moved on to taking care of brand and image.
I have specialised in exhibitions and learned from my predecessors’ experience so that now I am able to lead the events section. My main role is to plan and manage Eurofighter events in support of ‘prospect’ and campaign activities at air and defence shows around the world. Here we promote the full scope of the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Who were key people who inspired you?
The very first person who inspired me was my dad. I have always appreciated — even if as a young girl did not understand it fully — his dedication and commitment to work-life.
Here at Eurofighter my first manager was also my first mentor. She taught me a lot about the events world and helped shaped my mind-set within. The manager who came next was my second mentor, we worked very closely throughout the last four years before his retirement. He challenged my approach to the exhibitions world and helped me build my confidence.
Stefania S. (right)
What attracted you to the role?
I have been developing my skills to grow into this role ever since I joined Eurofighter. My dream was to travel the world and speak different languages. Eurofighter has given me this opportunity. Leading the Events and Exhibitions team is a big challenge. The return is the ability to travel, to meet lots of people and give a stage to the experts who represent the company. It’s very rewarding.
What skills do you need?
This role demands lots of self-confidence, an ability to deal with stressful situations. You also need to cope with silly working hours during an exhibition and an extremely well organised mind-set is vital.
It also requires a 360° view to prevent problems cropping up, and an ability to react in advance of any issues. You have to consider an exhibition or an event as a one-time experience. You have one chance to get it right. There’s no room for delayed presentations or postponed deadlines. Everything needs to be ready as soon as the event starts. Preventing and foreseeing possible challenges is key. The secret is simple. It boils down to three words: planning, planning and planning.
Stefania S. (front right)
What are the main challenges the role brings?
The timeline to organise an event or an exhibition is spread over a year. Some activities need to start 12 months in advance, while others cannot be done until a couple of days before the event. Showcasing the Eurofighter cause demands a certain presence – a wow factor to match the product. The audience needs to be looked after — to be fed, watered and given access to key people in an environment that says a lot about the brand. The main challenge is to ensure all this kit is in the right place, working, and can cope with the demands of thousands of visitors. Everything needs to come to life at the right moment.
How does it feel to be working as part of the Eurofighter programme?
The Events and Exhibitions department is not exactly hands-on the aircraft. We’re all aware of this. We are not the engineers who help the aircraft fly and develop its capabilities, we’re not the production line who oversees milestones and deliveries; however, we feel important when it comes to delivering expert information to potential or existing customers.
Getting to the top?
It’s not easy in such a male-dominated environment. I personally have needed tons of self-confidence, continuous improvement and constant availability.
What is a typical day for you at the show?
I tend to arrive on site 10 days before the show opens, and the show itself runs for a week so it’s a good 15 days of solid work. With a guest list that can include royalty, leading politicians, high ranking air force personnel and leading industry figures from around the globe – the stakes are high.
What impact does the role have?
Some of the conversations that happen during an event, where the mood is more relaxed, can help when it then comes to official discussions. One of the best parts of my job is seeing the delight on customers’ faces as soon as the Eurofighter takes off and all you can hear is its rumble in the sky.
How do you manage your work life balance?
After becoming a mum last year, I feel I value my private time much more. I used to love reading a good book, going out with friends and have fun nights. Now I can’t wait for the weekend to come when I am able to enjoy time with my family. Spending time with my family helps to recharge my mental batteries.