Carola Chiarlitti – The Grateful Apprentice

Defining Carola was quite a task as our conversation was much about other people and how they had a role in shaping her future. Although it was meant to be a discussion about her, we ended up talking about the great characters that she had the luck, and humbleness I may add, to meet and receive guidance from. A great thirst for learning by doing and the selection of opportunities based on the potential for growth offered are what justifies how such a young professional has already such a varied and rich curriculum. Ready to give back some of the teachings she’s received, Carola sees her role as PWA Membership Director as a great opportunity to be of help to other professionals.

Carola Chiarlitti is 27 years old, trainee lawyer in the Italian leading law firm BonelliErede and Membership Director for Professional Women Association in Rome. Her professional path was built one step after the other, with no specific plan defined a priori, but with an openness toward exploring and experimenting. Although Carola says she didn’t use to plan her life, few minutes into our conversation I realise that all her key decisions were taken after an accurate analysis and with the clear intention of accelerating the learning process, eager to put into practice her theoretical studies.

Her decision to study law came at 17 years old, after a trip she took to Cambridge. Wanting to understand if law or economics were a better fit to her, Carola spent several weeks taking various classes and having a sample of how university life may be like. After various courses and workshops for a multitude of subjects, she gradually realised  that what made her resonate the most were the courses where she would have to build arguments for a debate and explain the reasoning behind a decision. With this enlightenment, studying law came as a natural choice, and the fact that she loved history and philosophy made the decision even easier to take.

Studying for her Law Degree at LUISS gave her a unique opportunity to start exploring the working environment since the 3rd year of university. Being in the rush to acquire a practical knowledge, she applied for an internship at Iurcovich, a consultancy firm for family businesses. The only law student to attend, she was given the opportunity to have a grasp on how her top interest, business law, would find applicability in the entrepreneurial environment. She met with many entrepreneurs, got to know their companies, their dreams and struggles. And that made her look with different eyes at her family business: never before had she realised so clear that her father was actually leading a family business. At 23 years old, Carola perceived how much liberty of choice she was given, as her decisions were all clear from any obligation to take care of the family business one day.

Her first internship period still exercises its teachings over her: she has dear memories of the many stories she has heard, the teachings of the entrepreneurs she’s met and the trust and empowerment she has received from Luis Iurcovich, the founder that first saw “that light” in her eyes. 

From this point onwards during our conversation, Carola builds her stories based on the figures she has met that marked her existence: “I could rebuild all my professional history through the teachings and the takeaways I got from the people I met; from the people that gave me opportunities to prove and improve my skills. I feel very lucky and grateful to have received so much trust.”

Her next experience came with Lifang Dong (Anna) at Dong & Partners international law firm, during her 4th year of study. Another experience, another person to be grateful for. During this experience, as a business development officer, she learnt how to relate to people of different backgrounds and cultures and discovered the importance of cultivating the soft skills.

After Dong & Partners, she decided to experiment the lawyer career. She started therefore her traineeship as a lawyer at BonelliErede, litigation department. Her areas of practice are international litigation and restructuring. She deals with many foreign clients whose companies are assisted in managing different degrees of commercial conflicts with other companies in and out of court. Moreover, in her role she contributes to assisting companies undergoing crisis.

When I first met Carola more than a year ago I was impressed on how enthusiastic she was of her job and the group she was part of. She was just at the beginning. And I was happy to notice that her enthusiasm and satisfaction grew even more. She is sure that most of this is thanks to the people that crossed her path here too. Lucky to have a boss with whom she is fully aligned in vision and expectations, she is happy to be part of a team and company made of so many talented people.

Looking back at her choices and experiences, the most important advice she would give to someone at the start-line of their professional path is to choose the workplace based on the potential of growth it offers. That was the “compass” she used as guide through the opportunities she had in front of her.

Having had a recap of the long list of people Carola is thankful for, we shift the discussion towards the values and concerns that guide her. Education is her first concern and she is convinced that it should be given a high priority. And education is not just as an abstract concept; focus should be on the “educators” – the teachers that share the knowledge and that have the opportunity to advise and help their students with future life choices. To support this idea, Carola recalls her high-school philosophy teacher, the first person to mark her professional decisions in life.

Her second concern after education is Leadership. “Models are changing” she says, admitting that her gurus in this field are Simon Sinek and Brunello Cucinelli. She draws many lessons everyday from her leader and from the team she’s part of. Among these, the importance of listening: “It is very important to discern when it is better to be quiet and actively listen to the person in front of you” Carola admits.

Every time she likes something, Carola goes to learn as much as possible about it: after a summer spent in England when she was 13, she came back with an interest in the Japanese culture and she spent the next years studying the culture and language. She is mesmerised by the richness of their vocabulary, “of the many words they have to define rain!” and was impressed to discover a language and a culture so full of poetry and spirituality. Later on, foreseeing the economic and industrial boom that China would experience, she extended her studies into the Chinese culture and language and it became clear to her how “Language is the key to a country’s culture”. 

Another passion she has is art, in all its forms, but paintings most of all. Caravaggio and Giorgio de Chirico are her two favourite painters and she still feels the thrill of remembering the Caravaggio exhibition she attended some years ago in Rome: “so many of my favourite paintings, all in the same place!”

She recently discovered thermal baths, and she loves the philosophy behind it: “Salus per aquam, the spas of our days have their roots in Ancient Rome”. She hopes to still find the time to enjoy them while she’ll be studying for the Bar-exam, planned for the end of this year.

By Mirela Cojocaru, Newsletter Editor