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Leading by Example

Nadia Pace

14 March 2022
“The critical message for me, is do not let anyone push you through their own timeline. ”
 

Name: Nadia Pace


Profession: Board Advisory & Executive Mentor


Industry: Business Advisory


Adjectives to describe yourself: Tenacious; Ambitious; Honest


Favourite Quote: “Without action, the world would still be an idea”


Favourite Food: Definitely Pizza!


A book everyone should read is: Dare to Lead by Brene’ Brown


A movie/series everyone should watch is: House of Cards


 

International business mentor based in Malta, Nadia Pace supports companies take their next leap towards growth, move beyond the tactical to strategic, whilst mentoring business leaders along the way. Nadia’s over 15 years experience in senior-level positions and ingrained passion for leadership and change management, has enabled her to cultivate a vast network of professionals in a variety of industries whom she is able to harness, bringing the strength of global leaders to any board room.


Tell us more about your story, what drove you to launching Nadia Pace and what services does it offer?


Following my studies in Commerce, I took up roles in business development within commercial settings. I lived for a while in Greece, where I led the setting-up of a language school in Cyprus. Here in Malta, I worked with a customer service provider namely setting up the business development department, partly rebranding the company and also diversifying its source of business particularly beyond local shores. Eventually at 34, I became the CEO of the same company.


This role enabled me to garner a fair share of experience whilst widening my network, and I therefore thought it would be exciting to extend my knowledge, to help other companies, across a myriad of industries, grow their business.


Growth, be it personal or in business has always been a true passion. It’s now been four years since I’ve set up my own business consultancy, which focuses specifically on business advisory, executive mentoring and board advisory services. I sit on boards as a non-executive director and advise businesses depending on their aspirations and market of operation. I also sit with owners, CEOs, and founders to assist their C suite and the top management grow grow within the company through business mentoring.


As in every role there are elements you love doing, to the point of not even considering them as work, and other which you may dislike – what are they?


Business development has been strongly present throughout my career up until this point, be it product development, customer experience, customer acquisition and retention. Subsequently how one can grow their current operation through diversification and internationalisation, are elements of great inspiration to me. On a one-to-one basis, through my mentorship programme, I have assisted many C-level members, break their barriers to unleash potential, not even they themselves knew they had – and this is entirely satisfying on a personal level too.


Hate is a big word, yet, the administrative aspect of running a business is something I find entirely tedious and although I outsource most of it, there is always some tasks that need to be done, particularly when operating a business setup.


Your personality and way of doing, as well as personal experiences may differ to the person you are mentoring. How does it feel when one does not act on your advice?


First and foremost, it is important to outline that the mentoring I provide, does not follow a top-down approach, where the mentored is told what they need to do. It is a challenging process whereby together, based on a relationship of trust, we unravel difficulties and lead the way towards growth. We look at past experiences, future aspirations, personality traits and situational dilemmas within their work environment. I like to think that the client does all the walking, whilst I hold the torch.


There are many reasons as to why perhaps the recommendations outlined in our sessions do not come to fruition. It could be a question of timing whereby the business is not ready to undergo certain changes. In that case it would be my responsibility to re-track and re-align to the business’ goals, or to relay the individual’s concerns to higher management. Other elements could range from financial, commercial as well as internal structures which can influence one’s ability and sense of preparation to take the leap towards the next level.


From a personal aspect, human experience is very complex, and therefore a touch of psychology and emotional intelligence could help identify spokes in the wheel and bring certain aspects to awareness. I am in no way a psychologist, yet it is impossible to separate the personal from career life. How can we have employees deliver their best, if we do not understand them in their entirety?


Being a woman in such a highly driven environment is sure to have posed its fair share of challenges. What is your experience and how have you overcome barriers?


Throughout the years I was lucky to have had bosses who believed in me much more than I believed in myself. They believed in my capabilities and my skill set and pushed me into positions and roles. Having said that, growing up I was profoundly motivated to achieve more and be in leadership positions, so I didn’t shy away from it. I never had the real courage to do it on my own, so that push really helped. This therefore highlights the importance of women supporting women, because as a gender, we like to have a voice reassuring us we can do it. Nonetheless, bias still exists, especially within a boardroom setting. I come across different aspects where one’s gender or being a female is somewhat of a disadvantage. This also depends on the type of setup as well as the people you are surrounded with. While some boardrooms are more inclusive, others may be more traditional. However, by breaking the bias and being more inclusive, I think collectively we can work towards a world which is more welcoming of female traits in business.


Is there anyone that inspires you in your career?


In the past, my own mentors were my main source of inspiration. I had mentors all throughout my journey which were aligned to where I was at that point in my career.. Thankfully, growing up, my family, who had no business background, were always very supportive at each step I took. Nowadays I find inspiration through my clients across their different fields and aspects both locally and internationally. I seek to cultivate a partnership with my clients, where the relationship aspect stands out as the most valued aspect of our exchange built on trust.


What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?


My late grandmother used to always tell me “żomm saqajk mal-art” which essentially means to remain humble and mindful. I carried this all throughout and I also try to work through a set of values and a purpose that I envisage for myself and my business. I choose to work like this with clients, partnerships, strategies, strategic alliances, and with all my stakeholders. Conversely, this enables me to enjoy my journey with peace of mind.


How can we (as a society) encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their career?


A shift in mindset is needed. More than anything, governments can assist with the introduction of different policies, even though I must admit, I am strongly against positive discriminations because I do not believe it does any justice to women per se. That said, certain guidelines, policies and support from a government perspective can encourage a change in. Conversely, we should also help ourselves. We need more men to be practical when it comes to tasks traditionally executed by women. More men doing child minding services, and helping with house chores, and also within business avenues. From a business point of view, services supporting non-core family functions such as cooking and shopping, can encourage more women to be present in business settings. There’s a lot that can be done but it must first and foremost start with cultivating a mindset that favours women’s work participation at all levels.


Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?


Growing businesses need a healthy mix of the commercially minded, the financially minded, good organisers and good executors within the organisation. Likewise, workplaces need a mix of genders, competencies and cultures. Environments that draw in a diverse mix of people, are interesting and more stimulating, both in terms of the day-to-day office life as well as in the operation’s output.


If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why?


A lady who inspires me a great deal is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.. She broke so many barriers and has seen it all. She was consistently present all along, experiencing so many historical moments, facing many difficulties up until most recently with the changes in royal structures, policies and procedures.


Another inspiring woman would be Margaret Thatcher. Her strength in breaking barriers fascinates me. Her adamant approach to decision taking and the way she fought tough economic times, is also entirely aspirational.


On a spiritual side, I cannot mention Mother Theresa. I admire people who really give their heart and soul towards the common good.


If you had to take a different career path, what would it be?


I wouldn’t. I never looked back. At no point in my career did I consider shifting lanes. Jokingly every now and then, since I love travelling a lot and I love experiencing other countries and cultures, perhaps being a pilot and flying planes, could be interesting, if I had the opportunity.


What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?


The critical message for me, is do not let anyone push you through their own timeline. Choose what you’re really passionate about; whatever that is, whatever makes you happy and excites you, whatever drives you and challenges you in many ways, whatever breaks your own boundaries and just do it! Society presents a set ‘timeline’ women and even men need to follow – a set time to get married, have kids, buy a house, change job. This can be terribly overwhelming, not to mention stifling to those who choose to take the unbeaten path. Without these boundaries, everyone can be free to realise their own dreams – anyways the best inventions happened through innovation, through individuals thinking without a box and doing things entirely different to what their forefathers did.

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