Earlier this month, The Malta Chamber of SMEs hosted a half-day event to mark International Women’s Day, under the thematic area of Innovation and Technology for gender equality.

Bringing together women from varied professional and entrepreneurial backgrounds, the gathering was hosted at Naxxar’s Palazzio Parisio in collaboration with SHE: Social Hub Entrepreneurs, an organisation that connects women in business through events and workshops.

The first panel discussion of the day dealt with burnout, a feeling that professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners alike know all too well. It also explored various coping mechanisms, providing attendants with the tools of how to soothe and manage feelings of burnout.

Moderated by SHE’s very own co-founder, director and owner at SHE, Sarah Woods, the panel discussion also included the insights of Yasmin de Giorgio – CEO at Sanya and Shireburn Software, Charlene Camilleri Duca – clinical psychologist, Gestalt psychotherapist & director at paths, and Justine Pergola – owner and business development at Palazzio Parisio.

Dr Camilleri Duca provided an overview of the professions where feelings of burnout tend to be the most prevalent, such as the helping professions, as well as client-facing roles. She gave an overview on the stages leading up to burnout, explaining that a person does not wake up one morning in such a state.

Ms de Giorgio shared a personal account of her own experiences with burnout. After launching Sanya spa, the honeymoon period ended, and the financial pressures set in. She described her own journey towards becoming burnt out, and the coping measures she employed to get through the hurdle.

Ms de Giorgio discussed the shame that executives and ambitious individuals attach to the prospect of failure, and how she overcame this by imagining the worst possible outcome: failing at her business and filing for bankruptcy. She shared that picturing her worst nightmare, so to speak, helped her to overcome mental hurdles.

“The gift that burnout gave me is being aware of my nervous system. We are first and foremost CEO of Myself limited, we have to get really good at managing our own resources. As humans our, nervous system is wired to go into fight or flight very quickly – but we are primed to go into rest slowly. It’s easy to get stressed and it’s hard to relax,” she shared with the audience.

On her part, Ms Pergola shared about the loss of a close family member, and her subsequent take over of the running of Palazzio Parisio. As she navigated her new role and the new responsibilities she would have to embrace, she too had her own experiences with burnout.

As part of the event, Ms de Giorgio led a short meditation session, and guests were treated to local loose tea brand Tettiera.

The second panel discussion was moderated by The SME Chamber CEO, Abigail Agius Mamo, and was centred around innovation and technology for gender equality.

Here, the discussion included insights from Shelley Brown – B2B senior sales manager at Epic, Ruby Muscat – HR & operations director at Aspire Global, Audrey Farrugia – IT business consultant & certified scrum master, and Bettina Falzon – co-owner and COO at Lovin Malta.

Here, the panellists discussed their own journeys into digital roles, and the fact that more men tend to take on technical roles.

They spoke of the difficulties in making your voice heard in male dominated industries, and the importance of fostering environments where there is a diversity of opinions and input.

From major career changes, to moving country and having children, the professionals were enabled and supported by the opportunities found in working in digital spheres.

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