Italy to Get First Woman 'Boss of Bosses'

March 13, 2008
Emma Marcegaglia, managing director at Gruppo Marcegaglia, will head Confidustria national employers' association.

Emma Marcegaglia was set on March 13 to be named the head of Italy's Confindustria national employers' association, in a major first for her country's male-dominated business elite. Nicknamed the "Steel Lady" for her tenacity as the managing director of her family's steel company, Marcegaglia, 42, said she was "very moved" by her new job.

She succeeds Fiat chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo after having won a 95% landslide vote by Italy's captains of industry last month.

It took a century for a woman to achieve the feat. Women make up around five percent of the board members of Italy's listed companies and only nine percent of high-level management positions, according to a study by Milan's Bocconi University.

Marcegaglia will unveil her program on April 23 before formally taking charge of the organization at its May 21-22 general assembly.

Marcegaglia is from Mantua in northern Italy and earned her MBA at New York University. She went to work aged 23 for Gruppo Marcegaglia, where she is now in charge of administration and finances alongside her brother Antonio. The company, which has sales of 4.2 billion euros (US$6.4 billion) last year, is Italy's 10th largest industrial group.

Known for her polite manner, Marcegaglia is a familiar face at Confindustria. She became the first woman to head the federation's Young Businesspeople arm in 1996 and is currently vice president for energy, political, industrial and environmental coordination. "She is very determined and has a great analytical capacity while knowing how to remain modest and attentive to others," her secretary of 17 years Patrizia Longhini said. "And she never lets up. For her, giving her utmost is essential."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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