Your Interview Martina Alagna


Martina Alagna

How long have you been involved in the lighting industry in total?

I have been involved in the lighting industry for almost 10 years.

Have you always been involved in the manufacturing side or have you come from another part of the industry?

My journey is quite unusual, I started my career in the ephemeral world of theatre lighting in Australia, after my bachelor degree in Visual & Performing Arts.

Curious to check out the beauty of the light applied to the world of architecture I moved to Milan to complete a Master degree in Lighting Design. Soon after I was in London working in Lighting Design at Nulty+, where I have completed many interesting projects from hospitality to commercial, from retail to landscape, public realm and master plans. This journey allowed me to achieve the prestigious 40 Under 40 Lighting Design Awards in 2020.

Almost 2 years ago, I found myself on a new adventure joining Linea Light Group as a Business Development & Marketing Manager for the UK.

Do you feel that there is a wider diversity in sales, manufacturing and marketing over the last 20 years?

I wasn’t part of the lighting industry 20 years ago but I can imagine the situation was quite different from today. I can definitely see a slight improvement on the diversity in this field specially on the marketing side however, we are very far behind on numbers in sales and also in product design.

What reasons do you think there are so few women working for manufacturing companies? What obstacles do women come up against?

Well… it is not an easy answer and I often questioned myself and colleagues on this matter.

I believe we have to start from the origin of the sales role which historically have always been synonymous of staying away from home for a long period of time, jumping on hundreds flights or driving long distance to meet clients. And imagine back in a days (not too far back to be honest) how the society would have seen a woman leaving kids and husband at home for days while travelling the world meeting with strangers? It sounds unreal just writing it down. Today we are living in a different world and more women are getting closer to the manufacturer side becoming very successful, I have to say. I also understand why many women, especially the ones with family, are not willing to leave kids behind on exhausting days of global trotting. Same thing for men, of course. The lighting world is quite unique as the light must be seen and the post-pandemic meeting digitalisation never quite worked out in this industry. Cameras are too sensitive to light. Said that it would be nice to see more of the female younger generation, fresh graduates to try at least for a couple of year this role. It does really give you a kick in the b*** making you more confident in life and at work. It also makes you future proofed, as you acquire skills valid for a variety of different professions.

How do you think more women can be encouraged into this side of the lighting industry? What can manufactures do to encourage a diversity of applicants for roles in sales and product development for example?

Manufacturers are honestly very opened on having women to join both the sales/marketing side and the product development side. The few women I know in the manufacturer side are very appreciated, you can really see that they hold into them as we bring a completely different prospective into these roles. I also know that varies manufacturers are actively looking for women to join their teams.

How can more women can be encouraged into this side of the industry? Maybe making the expectations for the role more clear on the listed jobs and talking more openly about it. This could help who is new to the field and is interested on having a first conversation. It would also help to make the ones transitioning between jobs, feeling more accepted by the whole lighting industry, designing and manufacturing. Most people call the manufacturer “the dark side” of lighting, it doesn’t sound very tempting jumping on it as a fresh starter, isn’t it? But there are lots of lifetime skills that can only be learned in the manufacturing side and cannot be achieved elsewhere.

What are the positives of working for a manufacturer? What are the negatives?

I can only talk from the business development prospective which it teaches you the remarkable skill of persistence.
The persistence of picking up the phone every day and talk to strangers. Strangers which most of the time are not interesting on what you offer. People in a post-pandemic world are more remote and less connected, not willing to meet you in person. And yes, being rejected is something that no one in this world is ready to face. And then persistently doing it over and over again. This skill inevitably leads you on being able to “sell yourself” which is very important in life and at work. It is the skill that you use to get out there, to get an interview and get a job. It is the skill that helps you on DTMs to sell your idea or in front of a client to win a project. it is the skill you use when you try to inspire your employees. It is the skill that makes you brave to try new things. It is a skills that gives you the confidence to talk to a girl or a guy at university or in a club leading you to the first love and long lasting friendships. So yes, it is tough and not for everyone absolutely, but recommended to try if you want to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone. After all , “What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.” Friedrich Nietzsche said long time ago.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for inviting women in the manufacturing side to share thoughts, challenges and passion on what they do. Talking about it, it always makes a big difference towards a change with a long lasting impact.

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