In the thrilling, eye-watering world of super sports cars, there isn’t an awful lot of femininity. That was until Katia Bassi entered the scene.
A quick scroll online and you’ll find the Lamborghini Chief Marketing and Communication Officer dripping with gorgeous jewels at lavish soirees, outweighed only by the surplus of striking images showcasing the Italian sports cars she’s become synonymous with.
Talking from Italy, the executive explained to The CEO Magazine that the true meaning of a Lamborghini dives much deeper than simply being an object with four wheels.
“For me, it’s an opportunity to express my personality,” she shares. “This is an extension of the personality because a super sports car is not a car that you need, it’s a car that you want.
“It’s a kind of accessory – of course, luxurious and very expensive – but the reality is you choose the interiors in the same way you choose the interiors of your house.
“It’s exactly what you express. It’s much more important to say what I am and what I know rather than what I have.”
And it seems many are jumping behind the Urus wheel too. The Italian manufacturer’s first SUV drove sales up by 43% in 2019. Since its launch in 2017, 70% of customers are new to the brand while 11% of its buyers have been women – and that’s increasing.
“When you get used to a Lamborghini – and Urus is 100% Lamborghini car with the shape of an SUV – the transition to a super sports car is easier,” Katia says. “You’re no longer being intimidated by it. This is a great achievement for us. “
Despite facing a global pandemic, Lamborghini celebrated record-breaking sales in September 2020 with 738 vehicles delivered in the month – an extraordinary result cementing it as the best September in its history. It also marked a major manufacturing milestone with 10,000 Urus and Aventador models produced.
“Sales are doing great. October results are astonishing,” Katia reflects. “We keep on going. It’s been an amplification of the message in a very difficult situation where we’ve wanted to show everyone we didn’t give up, we kept on doing what we planned to do, even virtually … it’s paid off.”
Through transforming intimidation into accessibility, the Urus signals the first step in opening up the world of super sports cars to a fresh audience.
“Women have their own wealth and are in the situation where they are starting to think about spending that – and why not on a super sports car,” Katia says.
Lifting everyone up
From never having faced gender-based challenges to becoming the first Lamborghini female board member in 2017, Katia is breaking many glass ceilings associated with the automotive industry.
“My path here has been quite fluid,” she tells The CEO Magazine. “It’s been definitely in the direction of freedom of choices.
“We have a respect among each other and that’s the most important thing I believe.”
While the Chief Marketing and Communication Officer hasn’t experienced any inequalities, she appreciates she is a welcome exception to stereotypes.
“It has been OK for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s the rule,” Katia explains. “I never tried to imitate men. I never tried to be like a man in a woman’s body. I’ve always been myself.
“For me, one of the most important things is to create a solid bond with other women inside the company because I believe we have to support each other, and we have to avoid any gossipy attitude that can happen.”
The notion of empowerment chimes through many Lamborghini ventures, including its iconic FAB Talks Podcast.
Created to share stories of influential women who have challenged rules to drive change, the inspiring podcasts aim to transform the world for generations to come.
“Everything can happen if you put a focus on making it happen,” Katia reflects. “The lives of these women represent how you can transform your life if you want to do so.”
On a mission to spark change, the powerful dialogues resonate more this year in helping people overcome the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Listening to podcasts is a way to avoid feeling alone,” she says. “To listen to someone else who has the same challenges in their life – even before the pandemic, because these women felt isolated anyway for different reasons – helps you to go on or at least gives you hope.”
From Australian luxury jeweller Zena Kaddour and Natalia Aranovich a prominent lawyer from Brazil, to crime-fighting American mathematician Kristin Gilkes, the plethora of captivating stories is endless.
“I’m not competitive – I just know what I want, I know what I want to achieve.” – Katia Bassi
While their industries may differ, their courage and strength to conquer doubts is much alike.
“They’re from different cultures, different ways of thinking and different experiences,” Katia explains. “You feel united with them at the end because you pick up some of the moments of their lives and you can definitely say, ‘Yes, this has happened to me as well.’
“All of them had a piece of my life inside their lives.
“I’m absolutely convinced it’s not the problem, it’s your reaction to the problem that’s the problem.”
It’s this wise mentality from the Italian executive that has helped soar her to the height of her career.
Having previously worked for Aston Martin and Ferrari, Katia believes the path to success lies within supporting each other.
“I’m not competitive – I just know what I want, I know what I want to achieve,” she shares. “I always make it clear to everyone so there’s no misunderstanding.
“It’s a kind of deal. Once you put all your cards on the table and tell everyone these are my cards, this is what I want to achieve, this is where I want to go, everything is much smoother.
“My colleagues appreciate that I never try to enter into their fields because, of course, I respect them very much. I don’t want to do everything – it doesn’t make any sense.”
As the first female board member at Lamborghini, her role in softening the male perception around the brand has been instrumental in its increasing success.
Being one of six of the most influential leaders at the 57-year-old company, it’s a position Katia has revolutionised for the future of leadership.
“Leadership in my opinion is an old-fashioned word,” she shares. “If you are an executive, if you are dealing with people, you have to be more a coach than a leader.
“There should be a balance between what you are in terms of your role and what you can give to the people around you, and I believe this is making the difference between the leaders of the past and the leaders of today.”
Whether she’s draped in a gorgeous Valentino gown or equipped to rocket from zero to 100km/h in 2.8 seconds in the iconic Aventador, Katia truly lives by the words she delivers.
“Leaders have to be a little bit of everything.”