167 Letter from Valeria Minghetti
The “sliding doors” effect: what would have happened if…….
Dear young and future colleagues,
My life experience leads me to begin this letter by saying that intuition or “sixth sense” very often guides our work and personal decisions.
Paraphrasing what the dictionary says, intuition is the ability to understand that something is right for you instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning. It is like an internal voice that suggests you what to do.
And this voice guided me to choose Business Economics at Ca’ Foscari University Venice, despite having graduated at a scientific high school and my teachers expected me to enroll in math or physics.
I didn’t know anything of Economics and I didn’t know anybody who attended this faculty. I was born in a family of chemists: my father graduated in chemical engineering and my mother in organic chemistry. However, as I later realised, Economics has a lot to do with numbers and formulas.
When I was attending the third year (at that time in Italy Business Economics was in 4 years), I took my second intuition-driven decision, which marked definitely my professional path. I instinctively changed a finance exam with Tourism Economics. I found the course very interesting and stimulating and decided to do my thesis on that topic. And from there on my history as tourism researcher begins.
Once graduated, I was called for interviews by banks, insurance companies and businesses (it was a golden time for graduate students with honors), but it was the tourism domain that attracted me and above all to do research in this field. Even if it was a more uncertain path than working in the public sector or in the service industry. But it was the curiosity to know and to always learn new things that drove me.
The professor who followed me in the exam and the thesis understood my interest and wanted to test my qualities and attitudes. I started helping him with the course and collaborating on some research carried out by the Department of Economics of the University. When CISET, the International Center of Studies on Tourism Economics, was created in 1991 by Ca’ Foscari University Venice, the Veneto Regional Government and the Italian Touring Club, I joined the staff first as a collaborator and then, after a few years, with a permanent contract.
The Center was founded with the aim of carrying out research, consultancy and training activities for students and professionals at international, national and local level. In 1994, the research activity was integrated by the organization of a postgraduate Master’s course in tourism economics and management.
CISET has grown over the last 30 years but has maintained a characteristic since its birth, which is that of having a staff made up mainly of women. For colleagues of other universities and institutes met over the years, especially women I have to say, it was surprising that we were able to get along, because of the rivalry that, according to them, exist between people of the same sex. Instead, teaming up has always been one of our strengths and has stimulated productivity. But there is no doubt that working with a mixed team that has different ways of approaching problems can be equally challenging and profitable, because force you to think also from a different perspective.
Currently, I am Head of the research area at CISET and responsible of the Tourism&Technology innovation module within the Master’s course. The fact of being a research center which is connected to the university but works autonomously in close contact with the industry and the public administration has many advantages. The synergy between research, consultancy and training activities is very strong, and creates benefits for all parties involved.
Dear ladies, it was not my intention to bore you by telling the story of my life. I thought it was important to help you grasp some important aspects that can guide your study and career path.
First of all, listen to your intuitions. Even if analytical thinking has been promoted as opposed to “gut feelings”, especially in the Western part of the world, intuitions represents a different way to elaborate information. Sometimes, our brain knows what is good for us before we are
aware of it. This applies to your study and work choices, but also to the resolution of a problem during a research.
Secondly, be curious. Never stop asking yourself questions. Curiosity and the desire to find solutions is what distinguishes this work from many others and women are particularly inclined in this, because they are generally more precise and methodical than men ;-).
Finally, tourism by its nature is an applied science. It may seem obvious but it means making the results of pure research usable for public institutions and private operators, for destinations and businesses, as well as for tourists and local communities. Use scientific methods to find approaches and solutions that are useful for growing and making the tourism system more sustainable and competitive: do not used tourism just to test your theories.
Good luck and I wish you always know how to choose the right door 😉
CISET – Ca Foscari University Venice