Roberta Vivenzio has worked in communications and media relations for more than 20 years, developing an international profile and background. She has worked for Blue Chips across several industries: energy, renewables, telecoms, technologies, and finance, with a special interest in sustainability. She has a strong passion for writing and traveling, and has improved her language skills to leverage herself. Nowadays, she is the Head of Group’s Media Relations for SNAM S.p.A. responsible for a leading energy company, fostering its media coverage opportunities and brand awareness in global media. Meet one of the new entries at PWA and great fellow professional women.
When decided to invite Roberta Vivenzio for an interview to be published in our monthly article section featuring professional women who can inspire our associates, I was warned that she is so busy with work that I shouldn’t have the opportunity to meet her in person. This was scary because, for me, the best part of the journalist’s work when interviewing someone is human contact!
Fortunately, Roberta has reserved the time for meeting me and has proposed the right place to meet in person. A very pleasant surprise: not only the location chosen by Roberta but the very first impression on meeting her. Roberta Vivenzio was wearing an all-black outfit, elegant but casual, greeting me with a beautiful smile and sparkling bright eyes, she made me feel warm welcomed instantly.
Roberta is global communications and media professional with solid experience in energy, renewables, new techs, innovation, sustainability, and financial services. She has worked for large Italian and global companies ENEL GROUP, LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE GROUP, COMIN & PARTNERS, and TIM fostering their international path by delivering wide media coverage in top worldwide news organizations. Due to her abroad working experiences, she gained some ability in managing and operating in complex organizations, while becoming familiar with leading teams in multicultural environments. A real citizen-of-the-world spirit, with her feet, firmly planted on the known and safe ground that her traditional Neapolitan family has nurtured with principles and values, such as the importance of honesty, integrity, independence, and hard work.
Born in Naples, the elder of three kids and surrounded by both her loving parents, traditional grandparents, lots of aunts, uncles, cousins (a stereotypical Southern family?), Roberta considers that her childhood was wonderful. “I still remember with a mix of joy and nostalgia, my Christmas and Easter seasons, many of us altogether, where we had to keep on adding seats and the dining table seemed never-ending in length”, she confessed.
Actually, Roberta stresses the fact that the values instilled by her parents, are still part of “her mental suitcase”, saying “Only through hard working and determination, you can really fulfill your goals in life. Always with a focus on integrity, honesty, and independence”. She strongly thinks those solid core values are still “her trademark”, alongside being a very energetic person. Energy is the keyword. Energy is, for Roberta, an essential engine that moves all her actions and thinking.
Energy has also been the key sector in which she has developed many career years, after working in the telecommunications field during the flourishing years of mobile telephony – late Nineties, beginning of 2000 – she embraced the press office of the corporate world by joining what at that time was “the coolest Italian company, TIM. Mobile telephony was booming”, she pointed.
But, let me go back a few days before our meeting: Roberta wrote me an email explaining that she considers that life is shaped by some “sliding doors” moments and in her case, a sort of fortunate, interconnecting events, that have gently guided her professional path to reach and combine her passions: traveling and writing.
Roberta wrote me: “Writing and traveling – not necessarily in this order – have always been my passions since I was a child, therefore I feel lucky they are or, in the case of traveling before the Covid-19 pandemic, used to be, two constant elements in my professional life”. Hence, I was aware of her passion for writing, but during our interview, she revealed that she has always had an almost insane passion for reading! So, it is easy to understand where her love for writing comes from. For her, reading and writing go hand and hand: Roberta does not understand those people saying they LOVE writing but not so much reading. What is her favorite book? The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde.
Regarding traveling, Roberta was aware that languages are the right key to explore new horizons. Therefore, she took advantage of the opportunity to go to France and study French with native speakers. In France, her first “sliding door” opened offering her the occasion to develop event organization skills, public relations abilities, and “learn by doing” journalism writing experiences. All this while learning English; a language that she speaks really well now. Once back in Italy, she wanted to test her ability in journalism and started working as a stringer for a news agency, even though she confessed: “the first job I remember I wanted to do was being an archaeologist, but that was just because I had just started studying history and I was keen on it”. The past is still something that fascinates her, so living in Rome is such a chance! Rome, the eternal city where so much history has left its signs, an open-air museum that keeps on enchanting her.
Speaking about “sliding doors” moments, Roberta recalls that after her first writing work experience, she joined the communications field in the corporate world working with TIM, a fast-growing mobile telephony company, where she started running the international media relations for this Enterprise Group setting up its international footprint fast and furiously: “I was in the right place at the right time”, she jiggles.
When the opportunity knocked at her door, Roberta decided to move on with her career to Italy’s largest power company: Enel; right at the beginning of their international process. Those were incredible years for Roberta, where she traveled like crazy and had the chance to attend relevant international summits such as G7, G20, the New York Climate week, The Paris Climate event in 2015, among others. Her biggest satisfaction when talking about Enel is that she contributed to its internationalization process. In her words: “I contributed to the growth of a mostly domestic player into Europe’s number one power company with a presence in over 30 countries”.
After 15 years at Enel, she sensed her time was up at the power company and started seeking new challenges and opportunities when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Europe and Italy first before its peers. The pandemic was a sort of fortunate event for her because it brought the opportunity to virtually interconnect with people in her professional network interested in having first-hand news about the COVID-19 situation in Italy. Roberta explicated to me: “The network of people I had built and nurtured all along the years proved to be an incredible resource and a bridge of opportunities that enabled me to join a Strategic Communications firm, with a focus on their clients’ international projects, and I became a contributor for BBC World News”. An incredible experience that contributed to her personal and professional growth.
At this point, I wanted to know all about this working experience with The BBC News, and Roberta happily agreed to tell me details about her amazing story: Because Italy was the first country in the world to introduce a fully national lock-down, it turned in a sort of a lab for other countries still out of the pandemic, she explained. The BBC News service decided to set up live broadcast sessions to tell its audience how life looked like from self-isolation, and this is how Roberta ended up recording TV and radio reports from home, during Italy’s lock-down. The best part of the story? Gratefulness! Roberta recalled: “friends, former colleagues, people from my network, maybe living at different world latitudes, they all started messaging me, thanking me for bearing witness, saying that my TV and radio records gave them strength, confidence, and trust in that life in a lock-down could be managed, to some extent”.
Remarkably, the pandemic and a 3-month lock-down have been kind to Roberta. Opportunities kept arriving to her. A new job opportunity landed on her desk, just between the live recordings and her consulting activities: an interim job as Acting Head of Media and Digital at Borsa Italiana (the Italian operations of the London Stock Exchange Group). A very interesting experience for Roberta because it started and ended without one single day spent at the office, getting to know people, trying to gain people’s trust and respect while giving them support, all that from remote and through a PC’s screen. However, her strong bond with the energy industry was waiting for her right at the corner because in these disruptive transition times the energy sector is in the middle of the sustainable business model’s challenges. So calling for her contribution, Snam asked her to join its team and Roberta stepped in to aid with its business transition by taking care of the Group’s Media Relations.
Roberta is a member of the Foreign Press Association in Rome, Alumna of the Young Leaders Programme of the Council for Italy and USA Relations, and a real cinema fan. Believe it or not, she used to take a whole week off from work to be able to participate at Rome’s Film Festival by seeing as many movies as possible. She never missed one edition of this Festival, apart from the one in 2020, due to the pandemic. I imagine her sank into the cinema screen, spreading joy while in the cinema’s hall, and enjoying every little second of her Rome’s Film Festival “me times”.
While chatting with Roberta, I noticed that she is a curious, “visual” kind of person with a strong passion for quite a few interests. Her passion for the visual, in fact, found expression through photography. Roberta has traveled to some extraordinary places with a school of photography from the West Bank to Iran, Myanmar, North Africa; then she also visited Cambodia and Japan (on her own).
Sometimes, it is all about being at the right place at the right time. And some other times, it is faith and hard work. Perhaps it is a complicated mix of all that. Who knows which the secret ingredient of success is? Sorry, I don’t have the answer for that, however, I could assure you that some human characteristics that could make the difference are curiosity, optimism, kindness, and tenacity. In my opinion, Roberta has all these and more!
By Luisa Lopez