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Mar 3, 2022

In this episode of the EMEA Recruitment podcast, we were honoured to welcome Francesca Gino, Harvard Business School Professor and bestselling author of Rebel Talent and Sidetracked

“What I love is seeing what ideas can do when shared.”

Francesca joined Paul Toms, our Founder, after spending quality time with her four children over the holidays. She tells a sweet story of building a snowman during a recent snowstorm in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Francesca explains how her career has not been linear; she arrived at Harvard Business School by chance, after completing a PhD course in Italy. Despite feeling different to her peers, she never went back to Italy and has built her career in the USA.

Her commitment to research and writing comes from finding joy in interacting with people. Francesca describes the moment of seeing a spark in someone’s eyes as “priceless” – she enjoys helping people approach their work and life differently.

Francesca hasn’t travelled since February 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but has seen the benefits of moving towards a virtual world. Now, she feels that she has access to companies and leaders who would otherwise have been difficult to reach at scale; instead of speaking to 50 people in a room, she can now interact with 900 people on a virtual platform.

We look at Francesca’s two books, Rebel Talent and Sidetracked, and the difference in compiling her research. While Sidetracked helped leaders understand when and why their decisions get derailed, Rebel Talent explores how “constructive rebels” bring about positive change in organisations.

Francesca doesn’t believe that you need to be born a rebel to adopt those behaviours; she even launched a rebel test on her website when the book was launched to tell users what type of rebel they are and how to embrace those ideas. 

Paul notes that Francesca discusses the art of listening on her LinkedIn profile as a trait that is not so common in today’s world. She offers two practices that can help prevent distraction – be sure to take these on board if this is something you struggle with!

Francesca also discusses team exercises, used by companies such as Google and Pixar, that enable people’s ideas to be heard and to foster a culture of listening.

We find out who has been influential on Francesca’s career, as well as the “eye-opening quote” that helps her stay curious. She also explains how she manages to disconnect from technology in her home and how having children has helped her let go of negative emotions.


If you’re looking for a certain part of the episode, you can use the timestamps below:

01:28: Disconnecting with family over the holidays
02:37: The last thing that made Francesca smile
04:04: How Francesca landed at Harvard
08:16: Priceless moments during the writing process
09:54: Seeing the positives of a virtual world
16:57: Francesca’s 2 books
20:32: Are people born rebels?
24:17: The importance of listening
26:10: Practices that prevent distraction
28:54: Team exercises that enable ideas to grow
31:18: Why mentors must challenge you
38:03: Francesca’s favourite motivational quote
39:37: The rebel way of thinking
41:12: Will we travel again?
43:02: How to disconnect from tech
45:58: How children help to set boundaries
48:44: How to connect with Francesca


You can find Francesca on LinkedIn, contact her via email or visit her website


EMEA Recruitment is a proud supporter of Operation Smile, an international medical charity that provides life-changing surgery to children and adults with cleft lip and palate. To find out more about the work they do, please visit our website:


The EMEA Recruitment podcast is hosted by Paul Toms and Rose Jinks

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