Q+A with Paola Diana
In 2007, I had the first-hand experience of the difficulties of finding high-quality childcare and an English-speaking nanny for my two children in Italy, which inspired the start up of my first business venture, Nanny & Butler. Nanny & Butler is a leading global bespoke search consultancy headquartered in Rome and regionally based in Notting Hill, London, providing high-end services to royals, dignitaries and ultra-high-net-worth individuals in countries including Switzerland, Russia, the Middle East and the U.S. We specialise in placing English, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Russian and Chinese mother tongue nannies, butlers, maternity nurses, governesses, housekeepers, chefs, yacht crew or security staff – and offer other options tailored specifically to each family’s needs and concerns. There’s also has a PA and EA division for corporate and private offices. I took the UK’s business model for nanny services and applied it in Italy. I was surprised by the demand when I launched my website.
Nanny & Butler has set the standard in recruitment for private household staff. Its phenomenal success prompted me to found Sigillus in 2015, an exclusive luxury lifestyle management company, which occurred organically last year following enquiries at Nanny & Butler. People would ask for the best interior designer or access to an exclusive event… I saw a huge demand for requests above and beyond household staff recruitment and childcare.
Sigilllus offers discerning clients and busy entrepreneurs the most exclusive, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind luxury lifestyle experiences with the utmost discretion, providing lifestyle concierge services and professional advice, assistance with developing businesses sustainably, and everything from VIP entry to premium real estate, extraordinary travels, private jet and yacht charter, wedding planning and high security protection. No mean feat. Whether it’s the latest ‘hard-to-get’ supercar, off-market Picasso art piece, wedding proposals by helicopter or tracking tigers in India… even space flights! We make ‘The Impossible Possible’ for our members.
What do you love most about your job?
No day is the same dealing with extraordinary requests and meeting successful and high power entrepreneurs and business partners. I invest a lot of time in networking and it is one of the best ways to create a vast network of contacts, which is invaluable, although it is a highly time consuming business strategy. I work relentlessly, splitting my time between my homes in Italy and the UK. I am extremely hands-on with both of my businesses, Nanny & Butler and Sigillus, directing the teams and overseeing the day-to-day business operations and strategies. I love challenges in life whether personal or professional, I am eager to expand my company outside Italy without compromising our strengths. I never give up. I can fall down but I always react and get back up, stronger than before. I love the vision and the strategy, the fact that I can make my own decisions and do what I feel is the best.
How do you juggle motherhood and being a business woman?
Achieving a work-life balance is vital in my life. I don’t want to miss any opportunities to spend quality time with my children because they do grow very quickly and soon having their own independent lives. I enjoy going on vacation with my children where we can all unwind and relax peacefully, which always leaves all of us good memories for life. I am a real ‘all-rounder’, with a dynamic life seeing a successfully balanced motherhood and multiple businesses, proving women are equally capable in the fields of parenthood and entrepreneurship.
Do you have a life motto?
Never stop dreaming. Society needs entrepreneurs, people who take risks and don’t feel the fear. My favourite quote: ‘If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman” – Margaret Thatcher.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Being a mother of two children as well as an entrepreneur operating two businesses, Nanny & Butler and Sigillus. Also, I am passionate about campaigning for female empowerment. In 2006, I founded PariMerito, a network focused on equal opportunities and women empowerment, which I was instrumental in passing of an Italian law that requires every company board to have at least 30% of female representation. Currently, I am working on a project to help female unemployment in Italy, calling the government to implement tax breaks for working women on childcare and carers. In January 2016, my first book was published in Italy and is called ‘The Salvation of the World. Women: The biggest change agents of the 21st Century’. The book explores reasons why all nations need to have many more women at the top of political and economic sectors. I am hoping the translated version of my book will be released in the UK in the near future.
Do you have any advice for women wanting to start their own business?
Women can have it all! But first of all, they need to want it all. Be ambitious and then take it all. Never stop dreaming, trust your gut feeling.