Mika Launikari


Italian model Francesco Ceglie – Always good to have a plan B for your career

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“Sono un modello italiano da Roma e attualmente abito a Milano”, Francesco Ceglie starts explaining about his career as an Italian fashion model. “È una carriera molto internazionale”, he continues and shares his experiences from fashion shows and shootings across the world. “My career got started, when I was only 17. Back then a friend of mine introduced me to some key people in the fashion industry and all of a sudden I was doing shootings and castings … it was a totally new experience, a fascinating world that I was discovering step by step”. 

“This profession calls for great physical flexibility and psychological adaptability. Often it happens that at a very short notice you have to move to another geographical location for doing a shooting or a runway show, stay there for a couple of days and then again travel to the next destination in another country. It is exciting, of course, to get to see the world, but often it is demanding as well. Either you have the readiness for this or you just don’t. But even more importantly, you constantly have to adjust to changing circumstances and for most of the time you work with different people. You must have excellent people skills as without them you will not succeed in this highly competitive business”.

The challenge of the modelling profession is that you always have to look great, keep yourself fit and avoid any excesses in your life. “Yes, I am genetically truly blessed. On top of that I used to be a professional soccer player on the national level. The years with soccer taught me self-discipline and goal orientation. Also they gave me valuable knowledge about healthy nutrition and physical training. This is a very good foundation for my modelling work. I love jogging and playing tennis. These two sports help me to keep my mind, body and soul in a good shape”.       

Networking is everything

Francesco is aware that a model’s career does not last forever. “Adesso ho 24 anni, sono tuttora giovane … I’m still young, but even in the best scenario, I cannot necessarily expect to have more than 7-8 years of modelling ahead of me. This is pure realism … therefore, you have to have a vision for your professional future … to have something satisfying and rewarding to do later on … something that gives meaning to your life”.

“What I have done in the past few years is that I have systematically been building up my professional network. I have contacts across the globe … some of them are really important and influential figures. So, I am playing my cards in such a way that when the day arrives that I cannot continue my career in the modelling business anymore, I can then make a transition into something else with some self-initiative and with the support of my network.”

“From very early on I have understood how important it is to have a plan B. Needless to say, in life things do not always go the way you wish and then no matter how proactive you are yourself, you may get totally stuck with everything. But with a plan B, you can more easily reroute your life into a new and more preferred direction, whether it is about the private or professional sphere of your life.”

Many ways to learn

“In a way it is a little bit funny that both my parents are teachers, but I myself never liked schooling that much. I was not a bad or poorly performing student. I just happened to have other life interests. I am not an academic person … hmm … how should I put this … maybe I could say that my approach to learning is that the world is my university and the people I meet are my teachers”.

“Of course my parents have repeatedly emphasized the importance of education and formal qualifications. I am not saying that I do not need them. I am only telling my family that I can acquire a formal education later on in life. For the time being, I could not possibly follow a university degree programme as I am travelling so much and my life is extremely hectic.”

“Life is a great teacher”, Francesco says and adds “You definitely learn a lot simply by doing things. Sometimes when I reflect on my own professional career and I realize all the great things I have learnt, I become satisfied with myself and my achievements. For example, I did not learn any proper English at school. I have learnt my English through work and during those periods when I have been living in Los Angeles.”  

What goes around, comes around

Towards the end of the interview, Francesco starts talking about his worldview and life philosophy. “You know, there is this thing called Karma. If you do nasty things to other people, you only create bad Karma for yourself. Already a long time ago I decided to treat other people well … family members, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, people on the street … and this is bringing good things back to me too. Making the good go around is something that more people these days should be doing”.

“I am not saying that I am innocent and perfect. No, I am not … far from that. I have made lots of stupid things in my life … I have really messed up big time occasionally, but each time I have learnt something valuable as afterwards I have had to deal with the consequences of my own misconduct … and take full responsibility for what I screwed up. I never make the same mistake twice. I am smart enough to learn the lesson quickly from the first time already”, Francesco says laughingly.  

We are living in a global world

“I feel extremely privileged to have the opportunity through my work to travel and explore the world and discover many interesting places and get to know wonderful people from all corners of the globe. I see my life as a tremendous adventure … sometimes I feel like watching a movie when I think about all the events and experiences I have had until now. All this makes me highly grateful to life for all the blessings it has given me.”

“I know I am not an average person … I do not really fit into any of the accepted categories of the world or society … I am who I am … I am what I am … and I hope people would respect this without making me feel guilty or constantly making me feel that I somehow need to justify my existence to them”.

“Now being highly self-reflexive I just wish to finish by saying that, on the one hand, I am a serious, sensitive and intuitive person, but on the other hand, I am an impulsive fun loving guy. These are qualities that have proven to be very helpful in my profession. From the little boy born in 1992 and raised in Rome in a quite traditional Italian family, I have come a long way by now. Partly thanks to my family, partly thanks to my life experience, I have grown to an open-minded, tolerant, accepting and understanding person … yeah, I would say that I have become a citizen of the world.”

Text based on the interview with Francesco Ceglie in Milan, Italy (August 2017)

A Lifetime Quest - Developing Career Capital

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The concept of career capital relates to the notion of present-day careers and the diverse abilities that individuals need to develop, acquire and maintain along their career. Lamb and Sutherland (2010) define career capital as the collection of an individual´s personal characteristics, knowledge and skills, professional experiences and achievements, as well as relational networks that transcend company, occupation, industry and even country boundaries. Career capital takes different forms and is obtained in numerous ways throughout an individual’s professional career.

Three types of knowing 

According to the theory of career capital, individuals devote their time and effort to making an investment in their careers, and in so doing they expect a worthwhile result in terms of improving their career competences. There are three interdependent types of career-based investments that people make and through which their careers unfold. These three investments are different types of knowledge that individuals need for being successful at work and in their careers: knowing why, knowing how and knowing whom. (DeFillippi and Arthur 1994; Arthur et al. 1995; DeFillippi & Arthur 1996; Inkson & Arthur, 2001; Parker et al., 2009). They can be characterized as follows:

·        Knowing why is about one’s identity, aspirations, motivations and self-discovery. It deals with how and why individuals obtain meaning out of their daily work and continuous learning. Personal motivations allow individuals to design their careers around activities that resonate with their values and larger life goals.

·        Knowing how relates to skills, competences and expertise that are required for a particular occupational role or a specific industry, and that are transferable to other professional contexts. Examples of this type of knowledge are the ability to carry out duties and solve problems successfully, having mastery in foreign languages, and being well acquainted with the latest technological developments.

·        Knowing whom is about developing and managing one’s professional and social networks in the interest of career progression. Such networks are a source of numerous resources including professional information, peer learning, knowledge sharing, emotional support and access point to cooperation and new career opportunities.

Career capital and expatriate assignments

The theory of career capital is considered as an applicable approach to looking into the career development of individual expatriates within an international career context. There is evidence from prior research that career capital evolves when employees are on expatriate assignments, and that to some degree their skills and competences acquired abroad are transferable from one international assignment to the next one. The portability and transferability of the competences acquired from an international environment is of importance not only to the individual expatriate him/herself but to the current (and future) employer as well.

For example, Mäkelä et al. (2016) demonstrated in their study on expatriates that the most transferable type of career capital that they had obtained from abroad was knowing how. The impact of international career development on the two other forms of career capital (ie. knowing why and knowing whom) was less recognized and not so evident. Also Dickmann and Harris (2005) have reported on expatriates whose international assignment had positively influenced their knowing how capital and developed their meta-level competences while working abroad. Also aspects related to self-awareness, self-esteem and sense of oneself have been identified as areas where expatriates have improved their knowing why capital.

One hour left of 2016 - Make a New Year’s Resolution for 2017

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A New Year’s resolution is a promise that we normally make to ourselves on the first day of the year about good things that we intend to do or bad things that we plan to stop doing. Even a resolute decision can be easily forgotten the next day, unless we make a concrete plan to keep our promise and have enough support from our daily environment for sticking to it.

Our resolutions often have with our living habits to do: eating healthier, drinking less or that we plan to exercise more and live an overall healthier and more self-disciplined life. No matter what we choose to do, our promises should be realistic and they should not cause us additional (negative) stress and worry. Rather these resolutions should be easy-to-follow guidelines for living our daily life in a pleasant way without imposing excessive limitations on to us.   

Understanding oneself on a deeper level

The Irish actor Cyril Cusack (1910-1993) has shared his words of wisdom by stating: “If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am.” Quite a quest, don’t you agree? A quest means seeking something important and it usually involves a journey. For finding out who we are is definitely a quest and an adventure for a lifetime. Probably several New Year’s resolutions – one after the other – will be needed until we can say with a great certainty: “This is what I am!”.

Getting to know ourselves is the process of understanding oneself on a deeper level than just the surface. Who we are emotionally, psychologically, mentally, physically, intellectually, spiritually or professionally has to do with our values, beliefs, ideals, attitudes as well as our good and bad habits, strengths and weaknesses, passions and fears, likes and dislikes. Given the context and life situation in which we happen to be, our self, our multiple identifications and our personality define our priorities, preferences, interests and aspirations.   

The aim of a New Year’s resolution is to change something or at least to initiate something that gradually leads to a change. This may concern our personal habits, attitudes or the way we wish to see our social relationships function. It can also be about something more radical, such as making efforts to find a more meaningful job or to launch degree studies at the university. Ideally, as I see it, a New Year’s resolution should be a road that we are both willing and committed to explore on a more long-term basis (and not just for one day).   

A New Year is a fresh start

In the Middle Ages knights were forever taking on quests. Fearlessly carrying their lances, shields and banners they rode into battle and unknown adventures on horses. This is exactly the spirit for us to conquer the New Year ahead of us.

We should say goodbye to our insecurities and fears, and bravely embark on our personal journey to find more purpose and meaning for our earthly wandering. A resolute promise on a New Year’s Eve or Day can be the stepping stone to make our own lives better, and that way, even without noticing it, we can contribute to the wellbeing of other people around us.

The New Year of 2017 is a new chapter in our lives waiting to be well written!

Text: Mika Launikari

Photo: Happy New Year Dp