9 to 5: Pomellato CEO Sabina Belli on Her Mission to Empower Women
Women and their empowerment have always come first for Sabina Belli, who has been the chief executive officer (CEO) of global jewellery brand Pomellato for over six years.
As one of the few female CEOs in the world, Belli has worked hard to not only make her mark on the Italian jewellery firm, but to also ensure that the company gives back by helping to give women a leg up in the world.
Though you might think that fashion and jewellery was always her first love, Belli actually began her career in advertising under the global communications group WPP. She managed product-oriented accounts from 1983 to 1991 before moving to L’Oréal Luxe in 1991.
She began there as a product manager for the Helena Rubinstein brand before climbing the ladder to become International Brand Manager for Giorgio Armani fragrance.
“In all my previous work experiences, three underpinning principles—rationality, creativity and entrepreneurship—have had an enormous impact on my professional development. It helped me to foster skills around intuition, negotiation and empathy that help communication to be productive and inclusive, always taking into account needs and desires. Women truly have the capacity to reach targets without losing their lightness and sense of humour,” Belli says candidly.
In 1996, Belli made the move to the LVMH Group, where she took on the role of international brand and marketing managing director for Christian Dior Parfums. She then worked her way through numerous accounts before becoming the brand executive vice president of Bulgari in 2012.
In 2015, Belli joined the Kering Group as CEO of the Pomellato Group. Her move was an incredible one, particularly because she was, at that time, joining the extremely small league of female CEOs in the world.
Considering how passionate Belli is about supporting women and the fact that Pomellato has always been a brand that focuses on women, she decided to launch the Pomellato for Women campaign in 2017.
“Being among only the five per cent of female CEOs in the world, I felt the responsibility to spread a message that could empower other women, by encouraging and supporting them. This is the reason why I launched the Pomellato For Women campaign,” Belli explains, before adding that it was easier to grow professionally in France as compared to Italy, because they are more forward in the way they represent women in society.
The Pomellato for Women campaign is a communication platform that unites and gives voice to a community of like-minded women from different walks of life. It is meant to inspire and highlight the importance of female leadership and inclusivity while also celebrating diversity and the authenticity of womanhood in all its richness.
Over the years, Pomellato For Women has supported and empowered women in many ways. Just last year, Belli launched a campaign and crowdfunding initiative to support women and victims of domestic violence. Their initiative boosted the work that Pomellato had already been doing in supporting CADMI, a women’s shelter based in Milan for over ten years.
“Pomellato will always act decisively to support womenkind, and we want women victims of domestic abuse to know they are not alone,” Belli said.
Besides empowering women, Belli has also been charting the direction of Pomellato and strengthening its positioning as a leading Italian fashion fine jeweller.
In 2018, under Belli’s leadership, Pomellato was able to reach 100 per cent responsible gold purchasing and they are now looking ahead to achieving full traceability for coloured gemstones.
All this while, Belli has also juggled raising three daughters, keeping active and more. Below, Belli shares how she does it all in her own words.
What is a typical morning like for you?
Sabina Belli (SB): I wake up at 8am. I allow myself to sleep a little bit more because it helps the immune system. My favourite breakfast is high in protein and in good fats so usually eggs and avocado.
How would you describe your working style?
SB: When I am working I start by connecting with the teams. The first thing I do is go onto our different Whatsapp groups and take the pulse of the team’s morale and then we decide on how to plan the workflow and follow-up on key open projects.
The days in the office are never standard, I can be busy with the creative team and next with the finance team or in interviews over the phone or in person. My days are always quite full of different things and topics to handle. I love it.
Free time: overrated or underrated? Why?
SB: I’ve achieved quite a good balance over the years, I believe it’s only a matter of being well-organised. In my free time, I go on the Internet and social media in order to understand what is happening around the world. I also spend a lot of time connecting with my children and friends, and I exercise.
How do you deal with your shortcomings?
SB: Failures, in general, is part of being human. In fact, failures are teachers. It is always important to learn from them and think out of the box. Create a vision to inspire you and move you forward, believe in yourself as you undertake new challenges, stay positive and learn from your mistakes. At the end of the day, never lose sight of your vision.
What is the best piece of advice that you have ever gotten?
SB: To always raise the bar, and to think and dream big and out of the box. “Buy the building” is one of my mantras. On one occasion in a previous job, we were discussing the rising rent for one of our important stores. The team and I did all sorts of calculations on sales and plans in order to absorb the increased cost. Finally, my boss said, “Why don’t you buy the building?” Something in me changed. Now I always look for that “buy the building” mindset. We are often too constricted by rules and self-limiting beliefs.
How do you unplug?
SB: I unplug with physical exercise. I alternate high impact workouts in the morning and pilates in the evening.
What would you consider your greatest accomplishment to date?
SB: My three daughters. I’ve always tried to teach them to be free-spirited girls and to make their own decisions while keeping a clear and constant flow of communication between us.
What is the last thing you do before you go to bed?
SB: I think of what has made me happy during the day. There is always a reason for being happy and grateful.