Women in GovTech: Martina Piantoni
The DUET project recognises its responsibility in raising awareness of women working in govtech and wishes to help encourage young women into rewarding ICT-related careers. As part of its commitment DUET wishes to share the experiences of the women involved in our project.
We continue our series of mini-interviews with Martina Piantoni, Lawyer Associate, Grimaldi Studio Legale.
Job Title Lawyer Associate
I am a Lawyer Associate; I graduated in Law after a quite international educational journey, between Italy, France, and the US. Right after graduating, I had a short experience in a top-notch corporate Law Firm in Italy, but as much I performed good and was blessed by a very supportive environment, I realized that it was not the career I was looking forward to. I hence moved to Brussels, where I had the opportunity to work for two years at the EU Parliament, first in the Legal Service and then in the Policy sector. Later, I decided to try the private sector and joined Grimaldi Studio Legale, an Italian Law Firm in Brussels that mostly works for the EU Institutions and on international projects.
Overview of the job
My job is only indirectly linked to STEM. Being a lawyer, I mostly deal with legal advice, analysis, and interpretation of texts in order to find solutions to practical challenges that people may face in their everyday life. However, I specialized in digital/IT law, which means I usually counsel private clients, such as companies, who want to develop new technologies or apps and need to understand what they can and cannot do to abide with the existing legal rules in their country, or in other countries they want to expand to, or to understand what risks they may face, for example if their product causes harm to someone or damages something. I also assist public clients, such as governments and lawmakers, who wish to develop new rules for the development of technology, for instance to help citizens control their data, to allow the uptake of new services such as self-driving cars or automated vessels, to digitalize existing services, etc. In this context, I study the issue at hand and recommend what I consider the best solution to obtain the desired results for the benefit of citizens, including a proposed drafting the legal texts that, once discussed and approved by Parliaments, will end up governing people’s life.
What inspired you?
My parents, who are both in the legal field, inspired me to undertake a law career. My Law School Professor, Jane Ginsburg, inspired me in terms of legal specialization linked with STEM, as I initially specialized in Copyright, and then working in IT Law came naturally from that.
Typical working day
I usually check my emails as soon as I arrive at work/switch on my laptop (if I am working from home) and reply to all. Then I can have very different working days depending on the period/project(s) I am working on. I usually participate in several meetings to arrange the work with other team members or present some work results to clients; I read, study, and write a lot; sometimes I conduct interviews as part of my research process (to gather opinions/information by other expert persons in the sector).
Study & career path
I graduated in Law at Sapienza University of Rome. After having started my studies in Italy, I did an Erasmus in France (Aix-en-Provence), where I first learnt about New Technologies Law. I then enrolled for some scholarship programs, which I was lucky enough to be awarded, namely, a Double Degree Exchange Programme at Columbia Law School of New York and a Thesis Research Programme in France, focusing on comparative law. During my year in NY, I followed in the footsteps of my American Professor and specialized in Copyright, and then IT Law. What has helped me most in building my current career is studying in different countries and in different languages. This allowed me to get in touch with diverse environments and subject matters, to figure out about legal fields and professions I had never heard about, to question myself and change plans (my initial idea was to specialize in International Peace Law), and, ultimately, to explore alternative ways of reasoning and problem solving and enhance my flexibility, which is key when your job is straddling two dissimilar fields (as tech and law).
Professional & personal key skills needed to do my job, in my opinion, are:
Analytical: Consulting, Critical thinking, Problem-solving, Research, Time Management
Business: Administrative skills
Communication: Editing, Newsletters, Translation, Writing
Management: Leadership, Negotiation, People Management, Project Management
Personal and Social: Adaptability, Commitment, Flexibility, Initiative, Personal responsibility, Productivity
I could use my skills for any job in the Legal or Policy sectors, such as in-house counselor, judge, arbitrator, public officer, policy advisor, consultant, or others. Some of these positions, although they are accessible with my skills, require passing a public competition.
Having to cope with many different tasks and projects at the same time; keeping myself always updated; putting together legal and technical worlds, which means working with people with extremely different backgrounds and adapt to it, as well as understanding the technical implications of projects from tech experts and translate them into understandable pieces of information for colleagues/clients in the policy or legal domain.
Your advice to students
My advice to students would be to be curious and creative, explore, push your limits. Don’t worry if you still don’t know what you want to become. Lifestyles and careers are always transforming, think of the increased easiness to travel and automation which are putting forward jobs and ways of living vastly different from those we have known so far. If you don’t see your “perfect job” out there, you might always create it! Also, communication is key, so focus on learning new languages.
Your advice to teachers and parents
My advice to teachers and parents would be - listen to your kids and encourage their passions without limiting to what you know or have personally experienced. Make sure they travel, so they can receive diverse inputs and stimuli and see things/persons different from what they experience in their daily routine.
What does a Digital Twin mean to you in one sentence?
A Digital twin is a virtual replica used to run simulations and observe interrelation between factors, assess impacts, and ultimately make informed choices to change reality for the better. As all twins – I know as I am one of them ;) – it is not identical to the other and having it is always an added value!
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?
I would say extrovert: while at times I love being on my own, usually being alone makes me a bit gloomy. I have got two sisters and we are attached at the hip! Having grown up always with them around, I am not really used to stay by myself. I love being surrounded by people and hosting friends at home. With close friends, I can easily recharge by chilling with them.
How do you cope with stress?
Long baths and weekends abroad are great stress busters to me.
What's the last book/tv-series you have read/watched?
The last book I read is “1Q84”, a surrealistic novel written by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. Otherwise, I love any book of Amelie Nothomb, a Belgian writer quite out of her mind. Also, a must-read somewhat related to STEM is Ian McEwan’s “Machines Like Me”, which I really enjoyed and I definitely recommend. As per TV series, I have recently finished “The End of the F***ing World”, nice dark comedy-drama, and I am currently watching “La casa de papel” (trying to learn Spanish!).
This interview was also presented as a career sheet on the STEAMIT project website.