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#GettingToKnow the new mum spearheading a brand new division of Xaxis

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For this weeks Getting to Know feature, we sat down with Emanuela Recalcati, Director of Client Solutions at Xaxis EMEA. Having returned to work recently following maternity leave, Emanuela was eager to get back to work spearheading a brand new division within “outcome media agency” Xaxis. But there were more than a few hurdles to overcome, not least the volume of her typing!

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Tell us a bit about your role! Is there a “typical” day?

There is no such thing as a “typical” day in my role! My focus is to foster innovation and co-create with our teams and agencies, building exciting creative executions that can help our clients achieve their desired outcomes. My day shifts from driving strategy sessions to meetings with tech vendors and partners. I also run inspirational days for our agencies and keep everyone in our company informed about all the innovation we’re developing.

Working with more than 22 different markets across EMEA, I have a very dynamic and exciting role. One thing I do each day is to set aside time to learn something new — I’m constantly looking for pockets of innovation in my space. 

What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?

I returned to work from maternity leave to a new role and a new team, taking the opportunity to spearhead a brand-new division of Xaxis. Working from home in London with a toddler and my husband — and having to account for international time zones — came with its share of challenges. After the first 30 mins of work, my husband complained I was too loud when typing!  

I had to become much more time-focused and efficient, so I could make the most of each minute I was at my desk. I made sure I could contribute and take value from every meeting, setting a rigorous schedule to balance professional and family life. Overcoming this challenge has been incredibly empowering for me, as it has increased my productivity and given me a more balanced way of working. 

What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?

I was born in Milan and moved to London when I was 24. I fell in love with the city during my first business trip there and, a few months later, I decided it was the place I wanted to call home. I quit my job at the time so I could move to London, even though I barely spoke English back then! 

This decision played a big part in making me who I am today. Living in such a vibrant, culturally diverse, and open-minded city totally changed who I am and opened the door to so many opportunities both personally and professionally.

What is your biggest career-related win?

The launch of our Xaxis Creatives Studios during the first lockdown in 2020 was a great achievement for me. We were going through a very surreal time in our lives because of the pandemic, but we had a goal as a company to launch our global creative execution hub.

We quickly adapted to a new way of working, collaborating with multiple teams across the globe. The Creative Studios business was launched a couple of months after the first lockdown, and its success continues today.

Which individuals and/or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

I work with very inspiring people — that is what energises me every day. Mark Read is definitely a source of inspiration; he is very direct, but also has a big heart. I’m thrilled to be working alongside many talented individuals in my team as well, including one that was recognised as a female rising star. 

If you could go back to your teenage years, would you have done things differently? Do you have any regrets?

As a teenager, I cared too much about making mistakes or saying something wrong, but this held me back from showing my personality and achieving bigger things. No challenge or experience is too much for me, and I’m excited to take them head on.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I love fashion and shoes are my passion — I own more than 100 pairs in my closet!

What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?

Creativity in the programmatic space doesn’t come naturally. With the rise of programmatic buying, we’ve seen companies and advertisers concentrating more on sophisticated data and reaching the right people than on good quality creative, which is still limited and can lack flair. ​I’m on a quest to change the perception that creative and programmatic can’t work at scale. Conversational ads are a great example of this, as they use real-time interactions with consumers to deliver a creative, meaningful, and personalised brand experience. 

What are your top tips for aspiring creative professionals?

Always ask questions and never assume. Also, be in love with what you do! We spend far too much time working for it not to have a deeper meaning.

What are your top tips for other creative leaders?

My five top tips for creative leaders would be: -

  • Cherish the ideas of others — a brilliant idea always comes from fusing others together.
  • Don’t let the fear of failure prevent you from achieving bigger and better things. 
  • Investing maximum effort in what you’re doing always pays off.
  • Always value a team that knows more than you — talent is everything. 
  • As a leader, earning the trust of those around you is paramount. 

When you think about your team, what is the thing that matters to you the most?

I’m passionate about helping my team grow and enabling them to focus on what they are good at. With innovation being at the heart of the Xaxis team, we value our talent above all else. Inspiring those around me is key to generating new ideas and ensuring the business is ready to thrive, whatever the future brings.

Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

For websites I recommend Campaign, The Drum, and Creativepool. In terms of books, I recommend Good Strategy Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt and The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. I apply what I learned from these books every day in my job.

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