These are our selected changemakers: leading women that can be inspirational and a reference for all women taking part in the training activities proposed by Off The Beaten Track. Because role models are necessary and because they have great engaging stories we can learn from, we invite you to get to know them!

Meritxell Falgueras

Meritxell Falgueras belongs to the fifth generation of Celler de Gelida, Barcelona’s most iconic cellar. In addition to being a sommelier, she writes and collaborates with several media to praise wine, as well as working in wine tourism initiatives for hotels, destinations and brands.

She has become a very well-known public figure due to her media presence, and her Instagram profile @winesandthecity has attracted over 22,000 wine lovers.

Falgueras has also successfully reinvented her professional career. During her pregnancy, she wrote “What to drink when you don’t drink”, which explored non-alcoholic pairings at a time when she couldn’t taste alcohol.

Besides the fact that she is an entrepreneur who strives to increase the presence of women in the wine industry, she is also a good example of how to balance work and personal life.

Sònia Graupera

Sònia Graupera is a luxury travel journalist, specialized in wellness destinations and as well is an expert on MICE. She started her luxury travel blog in September 2003 featuring the best hotels, destinations and spas in the world.

In October 2019 she started a concièrge service as hotel finder and venue finder in Spain.

During the Spanish strict lockdown she launched a design masks business which now became a kimonos and customised bags shop.

Roberta Martin

Roberta is a perfect mix of passion, commitment, dedication and high values.

Italian living in Barcelona, she is the founder and CEO of the consulting company Italia Business Point and the creator of D.E.S.Y.A.M. nonprofit organization.

She is on a mission to promote gender equality, women’ s empowerment, innovation and a more sustainable society across all Europe.

Her motto is:

“All projects start from a dream and a small wave of hope”.

Silvia Bueso

Silvia Bueso is a certified coach, speaker and consultant, creator of the method “El arte de pedir” (“the art of asking), aiming at raising funds for your business, project or idea. She also teaches how to effectively communicate the project; to attract and retain customers for the business or to reinvent professionally and get the ideal job.

She has a degree in Law from the University of Barcelona (UB) and a degree in Journalism from the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF). She has completed the ESADE Management Development Program. She is a certified coach by ICF and has completed the international leadership program of CTI. She has held positions of responsibility in the fields of corporate communication in different companies, and has served as a fundraiser for Fundación ESADE.

Liis Lainemäe

For more than 13 years, Liis Lainemäe has been the leader of one of Estonia’s most peculiar destinations, Sibulatee. Sibulatee is a tourist destination and a network of entrepreneurs, where 35 entrepreneurs operate. Liis has taken on a more voluntary goal of making the region known, growing the brand, and securing enough visitors for entrepreneurs.

What makes me a world changer is Onion Road. Although I have not changed the whole world, I have helped one of the regions of Estonia to become a good and active locality, almost on the outskirts. We created the Sibulatee network together with the companies of Central Peipus County 13 years ago. It is now a well-known area, new
entrepreneurs are constantly coming to the area (both locals who start doing business and new active residents), and guests really love this different area. 13 years ago, there were approx. 16 companies-service providers operating in the area of tourism. In 2022, 35 local companies have joined the Sibulatee network; companies that bring their own bread to the table and are run by people who do not have to go to work in Tartu, Tallinn or across the border. Sibulatee also helps local people earn extra money – they no longer have to go to fairs all over Estonia with the famous Peipus onions they have grown, but guests come to the region to buy onions.

Marketing and the encouragement of start-up entrepreneurs are especially Liis’s things. Liis has been an advisor and project manager for entrepreneurs at the Tartu Centre for Creative Industries, and
currently earns a living as a content marketer at Estonia’s most famous museum, the Estonian National Museum.

But evenings belong to dancing! Liis has been engaged in swing dancing for many years, now she is also the instructor of the dance club Tartu Swing. She especially likes lindy hop, balboa, and blues.

Kaydi Tomson

Kaydi is the soul and leader of the Pärnumaa business incubator working with creatives, who coordinates activities, organizes events, directs cooperation and brings the right people together. She is an
entrepreneur and a passionate resident of Pärnu who believes that great things happen with the cooperation of awesome people even away from big cities.

Tourist destination Pärnu is not only a summer capital with a beautiful beach but an inspiring living and working environment full of opportunities, starting from the university and development and
support organizations that support entrepreneurship to endless parks and leisure options. Pärnu is a city where there is time to think, but which is bubbling with new energy.

Anna Lutter

Anna Lutter is a handicraft enthusiast from Estonia. She is the designer and owner of the brand annalutter and CEO of Studio KUUT, handicraft teacher, and author of three DIY books. She has been published in several magazines and featured in various TV shows.

She started blogging about her craft and interior design projects in 2011. Anna has gathered a lovely community around her account @lutteranna on Instagram.
Besides crafting and running her businesses, Anna is very passionate
about taking naps!

Roberta Magherini

Roberta Magherini is an independent consultant working in the field of international cooperation, EU project management, and the non-profit sector with focus on sociocultural issues related to sustainability. Her main themes of intervention include gender equality, youth empowerment, social inclusion, equal opportunities for all, lifelong learning, active citizenship, and civic participation.

After her Master’s degree in Anthropology applied to Sustainable Development, Roberta worked in the non-profit and international cooperation sectors in several countries, with experiences in NGOs, public institutions, and the United Nations. Currently, she supports research, fundraising, design, management, monitoring, and evaluation of international and EU-funded projects that aim to build more just and inclusive societies.  Roberta is also engaged, from a personal point of view, in creating a lifestyle that is as much as possible aligned to her values.

Multi-potentiality, work-life balance, personal growth, travel, and social activism are some of the founding values that she tries to nourish in her everyday life.

Giovanna manzi

Since November 2022, I have been General Manager of Promos Italia, a reality of the ecosystem of Chambers of Commerce created with the aim of supporting companies for internationalization.

From April 2004 to October 2022, I served as CEO of BWH Hotel Group Italy for the Best Western, WorldHotels and Sure Hotel brands.

I was born in Naples and grew up in Assisi. I graduated in economics and business from the University of Perugia. I discussed a thesis in finance with which I won a Scholarship made available by a Primary Insurance Company, but at the first interview, the talent acquisition manager told me I was too creative for that field. I absorbed the blow and enrolled in the Master’s program on Hospitality in Assisi.

Upon completion of my studies, I went to the USA to Subway, the fast-food chain. On my return I was hired in Best Western as Marketing Assistant: at the time there were 20 employees, less than 100 hotels, there was no web but lots of printed guides, and I was also the General Manager’s right-hand man.

After 3 years, I was called to Amadeus for the role of Marketing Manager for the Italy and Switzerland markets. Meanwhile, the digital revolution was beginning and I, always curious and passionate about innovation, took the opportunity of an experience in Travelonline, the first Italian b2c tourism portal. After returning to Amadeus as Marketing Director for about two years, at the age of 37 the President of Best Western chose me for the role of CEO.

It was a life changing moment for me. A 10-man CDA entrusted me with a big and ambitious challenge. To ferry a consortium of hotels through a profound evolution to become a structured company and the first hotel group in Italy. There was a system to relaunch in the Italian market and a business to innovate and make economically sustainable for the challenges to come.

In this position I helped consolidate the company, which for long periods touched 190 hotels and over 100 staff at headquarters. I went through many critical moments, including the 2008 crisis and the pandemic, negotiated with headquarters, travelled to all the countries where the group is present, managed tables often occupied only by men.

However, this experience also helped strengthen my leadership in the tourism industry. In 2013 I was awarded the Manager of the Year award by Manageritalia and in 2017 by CV Magazine, in 2021 TTG Italia magazine elected me Tourism Person of the Year.

I currently hold several institutional positions at:

  • BTO Scientific Committee
  • CFMT Scientific Committee
  • Hospitality panel of Assoimmobiliare
  • Board of Directors of Manageritalia Lombardia
  • Inn Keeper of La carica delle 101

Just before the age of 40 I became a mother to Francesco and at 50 I married Leonardo, my lifelong partner. I love the novels of Isabel Allende and delight in cooking for my family and friends.

My mantra: I am near-sighted but I have bionic vision: I can see far.

LinkedIn profile >>

Loretta Canu

I’m an independent consultant from Sardinia (Italy) working in the field of tourism marketing, digital marketing and communication. I work mainly for small companies and public institutions, as well as educational agencies focused on supporting tourist services start-ups.

Starting from humanities background developed during high school and university studies, afterward I came to Marketing following my passion for travel. I specialized in Tourism Economics by attending an international post-graduate Master’s degree and numerous in-depth courses on digital marketing topics.

I applied the knowledge of tourism marketing in destinations promotion activities through Digital Media, Destination Marketing training projects and marketing strategies for small companies.

Giuditta Mercurio

Giuditta Mercurio was born in Urbino and graduated in diagnostic imaging techniques. She quit her job after 10 years in a hospital in Bologna to pursue her dream by opening a women-owned farm.

She is co-founder and owner since 2017 of the organic farm “Il Gentil Verde” together with Agnese.

The farm specializes in growing ancient grains and processing flour and baked goods.

The farm is run solely by women and has always been involved in social and healthy food related projects promoted by hospitals and the University of Marche.

Her motto is: “Believe in the Strength of Women and never give up”.

Chiara Ronciglioni

Chiara Rosiglioni defines herself as a “citizen of the world”. She was born in Venice but expatriated to Belgium at an early age.

Her working career began in the European Community in 1988, later she decided to return to Italy at the birth of her daughter and to retrain as a freelancer by successfully undertaking a financial promotion business. In 2003, in order to stay closer to her teenager daughter, she opens a business.

In 2011, she returns back to her usual passion namely “travel” becoming a Travel Consultant but a very serious road accident reduces her immobilized in hospital for 5 months and during a long rehabilitation process she discovers the world of “personal growth” and Network Marketing.

As a result, she begun a personal and professional journey that leads her in 9 years to reach the top of the company as a “trainer” during the company’s international convention in Barcelona in May 2022.

rita elvira adamo

Rita Elvira Adamo borned in Calabria and lives between Nduja and Fish and Chips.

She recently completed her PhD in Architecture and Territory, entitled “Experimentation for public action: a diverse dimension in architecture”, and she is an associate lecturer at the London Metropolitan University.

In 2016 co-founded La Rivoluzione delle Seppie, a hyper-collective of nomadic, international and creative professionals based in Belmonte Calabro (CS). The group’s main objective is the cultural reactivation of rural marginal areas to experiment with different methods of living and working collectively, mainly through non-formal education programs.

She worked as an intern at Norman Foster’s studio in London and as a junior architect at Santiago Calatrava’s studio in Zurich.

Rita also has gained experience in the curatorial field; in particular, she curated the exhibition “Invisible Architecture. Italian and Japanese architectural movements of the 60s and 70s and the contemporary debate” (2017) at the Museo Bilotti in Villa Borghese (Rome) and “School / Work. Architectural Conversations Between Education and Practice” at the Bank Gallery in London (2017).

I would like to find a place where we can try, together, to make things with our hands […],arms, legs, hands, feet, hair, sex, saliva, eyes, breath and make them, certainly not for ourselves or even to give them to others, but to try how to make things […] Will it be possible to try?” – Ettore Sottsass

Kristel Üksvärav

Kristel Üksvärav is responsible for tourism on the island of Hiiumaa. Hiiumaa, with ca 9000 inhabitants, is an island in the Baltic Sea and the second largest island in Estonia.

Kristel is the head of the Hiiumaa Tourism Cluster. The cluster was created in the summer of 2021 and there are more than 30 members now. Kristel’s goal is to get Hiiumaa to the world map.

Kristel has 20 years of work experience in the field of communication and marketing.

She feels at home in media relations, crisis communication, internal communication, sponsorship, editing TV programs, event marketing etc.

Kristel likes wisdom and cleverness, colours, passion, and commitment. 3 sons have taught her that hope is not a plan ☺ On Hiiumaa she also has 13 sheep and bees.

She uses wind, solar and sea batteries to charge her home and herself

Stefania Marcoccio

Stefania is the President of CRAMARS – Società Cooperativa Sociale based in Tolmezzo (Italy).

She has a degree in Economics and Business, in 1997 she was among the founding members of Cramars, since 2018 she has held the role of President.

She is involved in the detection of training needs in both territorial and corporate contexts and the design of educational paths. She is the contact person for employment impact assessment and training programming.

An expert on gender issues, she collaborates with public bodies in the conception and management of initiatives related to Equality plans and in the design of interventions aimed at female citizens.

Over the years, she has designed and coordinated numerous community projects.

She currently oversees local development and social innovation initiatives developed by the cooperative she chairs in the Friulian mountain area.

Motto: “Discover opportunities, even at the margins”

katrin orbeta

I have grown up in a matriarchal family in a challenging country like the Philippines, and this experience has influenced all my beliefs and choices in life.

I have started a venture to make cartoons and video games that empower kids’ emotional skills. As a social entrepreneur with expertise in networking,

I am interested in creating opportunities for women to work together, build relationships, and share successes. I have started a venture to make cartoons and video games that empower kids’ emotional skills.

As a designer and a startup founder in the audiovisual and gaming sector, I understand the challenges many female professionals face when trying to break into these industries. This motivates me to advocate for gender equality and foster more support networks for personal and professional growth.

To make a positive impact, I have designed and created a blog with tips that helps women and young creatives to explore and achieve an entrepreneurial mindset. I believe every individual has the potential to make a meaningful contribution toward a greater purpose in their unique way.

I am excited by this prospect and have dedicated my time to advocate for this cause as much as possible.

Everything I learn in my venture will be returned, and this is my little way to be a changemaker.

LinkedIn Profile >>

claudia sedda

Director of LAG BMG (www.galbmg.it ) and European Project Manager.

Graduated in 2007 at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Sassari (Master of Science in Publishing, Multimedia Communication and Journalism), in 2009 obtained a Master’s Degree in Law in European Integration and Local Government (Faculty of Law, University of Sassari and Université de Corse Pascal Paoli) and also attended intensive masters in Project Management in Cagliari and Brussels.

She worked as Project Manager at the Municipality of Belvì (Youth in Action, Europe for Citizens and LLP Programmes) and at the Rural District BMGS LAG (Measure 4.2.1. Transnational Cooperation-EAFRD).

She has been living in Gavoi, Sassari, Paris, Viterbo and Malta, where she had the opportunity to collaborate with the NPA “Immigrazione Oggi” and AWAS (Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers) in the implementation of European projects co-financed by the EIF and ERF funds.

mariella stella

Mariella Stella is Head of School Services, Youth and Sport Policies and of the Tourism and Cultural Activities Office at the Municipality of Matera, referent of the Hubout project for the development of youth businesses. Since 2011 she is co-founder of Casa Netural and she coordinates civic activation and social innovation projects, deals with the economy of sharing and communication.

She has been included among the Unstoppable women of Startup Italia from 2018 to 2022, and in 2015 she has received the ‘Giuliana Bertain creativity Award’ at the Gammadonna salon. She has been a member for two editions, of the jury of Start Cup Puglia, of the Pin call of the Puglia Region, of the international call ‘Foresta’, vice president of RENA and coordinator of the territorial development project Co / Auletta. She is specialized in scholastic – professional orientation, and she has coordinated the University Orientation Center in University of Foggia.

She is co-founder of Netural Family project about family welfare. She has worked for the Institutional Communication Office of the Italian Red Cross, and coordinated the Cri Committee of Matera as Administrative Manager until 2017.

For the Mibact, ICCD Institut, she has worked in the CULTURAL Heritage training. From 2000 to 2003 she has worked as an european designer, while since 2003 she has coordinated orientation projects and development of entrepreneurial skills in schools, being part of the jury of the Digital School Award (a project by Ministry of Education) for the 2019 and 2020 editions, in Basilicata.

In the context of territorial enhancement and development, she is the creator and coordinator of the Netural Walk project, and she is a founding partner of Netural Coop and co-creator of Wonder Grottole. She is also the coordinator of Prime Minister Basilicata project for the leadership development among young women. Last but not least she is the mother of three beautiful children.

ramona bavassano

Ramona is a passionate activist for human and organisational development, and has spent her first 53 years creating innovative projects and connections to support awareness and empowerment of people and communities.

She has helped public and private organisations as a Managerial Trainer and Consultant for several decades, always merging together different worldviews and materializing innovative processes.

Using her optimism, a Master in Business Administration and a degree Magna cum laude in Organisational Psychology, she has supported many people in changing life and manifesting new reality. 2 years ago, she also changed life again and after creating a company for Social Responsibility in Brazil, an ecovillage in Jamaica, several projects around the world as a volunteer, especially supporting women, she has moved to Sardinia, the heart of the Mediterranean civilisation.

She has there created an organic multifunctional farm of 55 hectars managed with Permaculture Principles in which she is putting together all the experiences and the learned lessons in order to create a continuous evolving process of evolution.

While producing natural wine, olive oil, oranges almonds and herbs together with eco-tourism experiences and social innovation activities for community development. And she is always ready for new adventures

ornella laneri

I was born in Catania in 1963, where I spent most of my life, working and growing my two beloved kids, Michele – 28- and Carolina-22.

After my classical high school studies, I moved to Milan where I attended Architecture at Politecnico. There, I met Germano Celant, one of most influent art curators worldwide, who introduced me to the world of contemporary art. But, after three years in Milan, the great mother, “Etna” called me back, and my family duties did too. So, in 1985 I started my “never-ending” Sicilian journey in tourism. I am now CEO of Four Points by Sheraton Catania and Catania Hills Residence, almost 40 years’ experience and an energetic and
natural leadership.

My skills are organizing and managing, and my strengths are decision making, problem solving, cohesive staff building. I give my best under pressure.

My goal in hospitality is to reach our guests satisfaction in an eco-sustainable and ethical environment, involving our staff to offer customized services.

In 2017 I started a new fascinating and involving experience, opening a family art foundation, OELLE Mediterraneo Antico, of which I am president: this new no profit activity is giving me the chance to express gratitude to a territory, Sicily, that contributed to my success. We create new opportunities through masterclasses and workshops, open new art spaces and organize exhibitions, focusing on contemporary photography.

My goal in art is to create a “Land of possibilities” for local artists, contributing to launch them in the international world of art.

I am currently president of AIDDA Sicilia (Associazione Imprenditrici e Donne Dirigenti d’azienda) and I am the coordinator of AIDDA for tourism, a group born during the first pandemic lockdown that includes more than 80 women entrepreneurs. I am also vice
president of the Tourism, Culture and Events section of Confindustria Catania.

erika garajova

Erika has worked in the catering and hotel industry all her life. It’s a job she has always wanted to do and still enjoys. Throughout her professional career, she has opened and helped start a couple of small hotels and restaurants.

In 2002, she met the owners of Villa Regia restaurant in Kosice, who were starting up the restaurant at the time and hired her as manager. After a few years she became a co-owner and since then a lot of things have changed.

She worked hard to make changes in the restaurant. From renovating the interior, the overall character of the restaurant. She took training courses like sommelier course and various others. She was honored when GURMAN in Slovakia (BEDEKER TOP restaurant, which every year evaluates and awards the best restaurants) awarded her the GURMAN AWARD MANAGER OF RESTAURANT 2013. It is awarded for her long-standing contribution to the development, presentation and personal contribution to the hotel and gastronomy industry.

In 2014, I became a mom and handed over my managerial scepter to my sister and thanks to a great and very talented chef and my equally great and professional manager, I am able to devote my time to my beloved children and my family in addition to managing the restaurant.

„I still have big plans.“

andrea bobbova

Andrea is the manager and owner of the first escape room in Košice. In 2014 she came up with the idea to expand the escape rooms in Košice.

The physical construction was done by her husband and Andrea is in charge of marketing, administration and personnel. From the beginning she put the idea of teamwork into the business, because a team can create great things, certainly more than an individual Shortly after that they started to collaborate with other enthusiasts and today they are a team of 10 owners, 20 gamemasters and a manager, they have a total of 14 escape rooms, 2 city games and 7 online games.

They have been running for 8 years now, they survived the Corona crisis and Andrea believes that they will be able to move forward They have also experienced downfalls: when for example the business was starting or when the closure and opening of services came during the year 2021-2022, when they had been open for about 10 months out of 24 months.

So far they have managed, and Andrea thinks that without the whole team they would never have made it this far, and that’s what drives her forward in her vision.
So far she has mastered all the challenges and is now a successful entrepreneur in the entertainment industry in Košice.

“There is strength in the team.”

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