I have been loving working with Paula Gardner on her wonderful business, Scarlett Thinking. Paula is a business psychologist and executive coach specialising in female leadership and visibility and runs an amazing programme empowering women leaders in Verona called della Scala.

We have been working together to identify the women Paula would like to approach for the course which is leading us to quite male-focussed brands and identifying the women who Paula’s expertise can empower the most.

As part of the marketing plan, we’re working together on a content strategy focusing on Linked In and we kicked this off with an interview with Paula to tell us more about her course – hope you enjoy!


KC: Have you always been dedicated to helping women leaders throughout your career?

PG: In all honestly, when I started my career in PR many years ago, I didn’t set out to work with just women but that’s what happened.  I was lucky enough to work with some amazing female business owners. From there, this has really moulded me and my business.

KC: In what way?

PG: Mostly on the visibility side, as women leaders can sometimes find being visible in their workplace difficult. A lot of women have been conditioned and brought up to be quiet and humble and not to speak up. It was important to me to be able to help enable women to have their voice and say.

KC: What’s the most rewarding element of working with female leaders?

PG: I love the creativity of these relationships and how we can all teach each other to look at things in new ways. For me, being playful is hugely important with my clients and the workshops and programmes I run. We are not just models on a white board but real people. I enjoy working with my clients to look at how other women leaders manage situations objectively and then work together to relate to it and recognise our own behavioural patterns. Doing this really helps the women I work with have third party distance. They can look at situations in a more objective way and ultimately, get results.

 KC: Tell me about your della Scala leadership training.

PG: I really am passionate about developing ethically-minded, values-driven female leaders.  I formulated a leadership programme using the latest business psychology research, together with my own experience of coaching hundreds of female leaders in business over the past 15 years. What makes it different from any other programme out there is my specific honed framework of leadership and the fact that I host it in Verona. It has been deliberately designed to make it an all-sensory learning experience.

KC: What sort of women should come on the programme?

PG: I particularly target women who are already in leadership and feel they have things to say. However, they maybe don’t feel they can or don’t have the voice. I want to help these women become visible for themselves (for example, if they are looking to a new opportunity), or within their organisation. Our work together enables them to speak up and be visible. By empowering women leaders within organisations, everyone benefits. It encourages talent to rise up the ranks, reflects well on the brand and showcases the brand’s desire to grow their female leaders.

KC: Sounds amazing. And you’ve named it after Beatrice della Scala – please can you tell me more about her?

PG: I decided to build my leadership programme around the medieval family of della Scala who ruled Verona for many decades. This was partly an act of passion, and partly an act of pragmatism. Passion because I became intrigued by this family and their rich characters, some of them infamous.  Pragmatic because, amidst the stories and the legends, I could see how their rule embodied both the best and worst of leadership.

As with many history records in those days [13th / 14th centuries], it was very male dominated. But I kept seeing the name Beatrice pop up so I decided to investigate further.

I found out that Beatrice was married at 19 to Bernabò Visconti to create an alliance between Milan and Verona. Only Beatrice could calm her raging, despotic husband. So, she often acted as intermediary between other heads of state and her husband. Not only that, she ended raising an army and ruling her own province of Reggio. She also used her own money to help the poor and redevelop areas devastated by the feuding family. She was a perfect example of female empowerment and leadership, so much so her name was given to the Santa Maria alla Scala church in Milan and the world-famous La Scala opera house.

KC: What a woman! So, this is why you deliver your programme in Verona?

PG: Yes, exactly. I wanted to create a sensory experience for the women that come on the programme and give them a great memory. What I do see is great shift in attitude of the women that attend. This is through being in this magical place and really focusing, together, on their leadership. Many women come away realising that they have a right to be visible – which is so important.

Find out more about the della Scala leadership programme for women leaders.