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Engineered Success: Giulia E. Fenci

I’m so excited to introduce you to Giulia Evelina Fenci, a-27-year old, Italian born multilingual structural engineer and personal trainer who has completed her Mount Kilimanjaro climb.

Giulis Evelina Fenci
Giulia E. Fenci
I was born in Siena, Italy and I now live in Salford. I am a graduate structural engineer and I am in the final year of my PhD at the University of Salford. At the same time, I work one week every month for an international engineering consultancy. I have just qualified as Personal Trainer and I have been fundraising to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of a charity called Dig Deep, that aims to bring clean water and sanitation to rural areas in Kenya.
My main goals in life are to be healthy and happy. I want to do what I am passionate about and I want to find a job that will motivate me and inspire me to better myself every day.

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about many things such as art and architecture, travelling, good wine (I’m Italian after all), fitness and health. Recently I have become eager to learn more about nutrition and how people can prevent diseases by having a balanced and healthy diet, as well as having a balanced mind. Sometimes people hide traumas or events that have caused them pain or discomfort within them and I am a strong believer that we should all learn to deal with our emotions and speak openly about them without letting them haunt us and cause negative imbalances in our bodies.

What are you aspiring to be?
This is a difficult question... On one hand, I would like to pursue this recently discovered passion for fitness and nutrition and embark on a quest to make people understand more about themselves, how to appreciate their bodies, their own strength and how to reach a healthy relationship with food. On the other, I have invested so much time and energy in becoming a structural engineer that I need to give this career path a shot to see if it can make me happy in the long run.

Why did you decide to start pursuing health and fitness?

During the three years of my PhD, my character and will have been severely put to the test. When I first started, I was a fresh graduate full of energy and excitement to be a great structural engineer.
However, I have gone through a journey of personal discovery throughout these years of research and have experienced feeling lost and close to losing my purpose in life. There were days when I would force myself to go to University but just felt like I was wasting my time and was not achieving anything. The highlight of my day would be to go to the gym and close off all negative thoughts and concentrate on exercising and getting stronger.
Learning how my body worked and how it reacted to different trainings helped me gain a new found confidence. I’ve played volleyball since I was 10 years old, so sport has always been a big part of my life, but strength and conditioning training has given me a new kind of self-consciousness.
Volleyball girl
Long story short, I slowly managed to get my positivity back, the research started flowing again, I secured a placement in a leading engineering company and kept on training.
Being a curious person by nature, I wanted to know more about strength and conditioning and started to think that perhaps I could be the one that helps people who find themselves in a similar situation to mine, get back on their feet and start enjoying life again. Hence, I decided to enrol on a personal training course and, have now qualified. I am so excited about this new journey!
Girls with muscles
Girl Power - muscles

How do you manage your time between life - work - education?
One thing that I have come to appreciate about my PhD is that I have been my own boss. Of course, my supervisor and I set regular deadlines, but I was free to work at my own pace and whenever or wherever I wanted. No one expected me to be anywhere at a certain time and, although this required considerable self-discipline, it allowed me freedom.
This is how I managed to fundraise, go to placement every month and study to become a PT. Needless to say, there was not much free time left, but I always knew this was going to be temporary and worth it.

Give us a sample of your schedule - typical day/week.
I don’t really have typical days and my schedule varies according to what I have planned. Generally, I wake up at 7am and take my time to enjoy my breakfast and my morning routines.
I am currently writing up my PhD so I go to University for half a day and around noon I go to the gym for about one or two hours, depending on how I feel. Then, it’s lunch more PhD work, dinner and bed. I try and read a book before going to sleep as it calms me down and makes me sleep better instead of watching something on my laptop.

What/Who has contributed to your success?
The person that contributed the most to my success is my mum. For the first 5 years of my life, it was just us two as I have never met my biological father. And I think this time really contributed to making our bond as strong as it is today. She has always been there for me, supporting me in my adventures and giving me advice whenever I asked for it.
Spending time playing a sport or practising a hobby has also helped me be successful. Having some form of outlet, sometime where I could focus my mind on something that was not work and spending it with my friends has always been important to maintain some sort of balance to keep being productive.

How do you stay organised and productive?
I have a Moleskine diary that keeps me organised. I write down appointments, deadlines, thoughts, ideas and it definitely is a life saviour.

My attention span can be very short if I am not particularly interested or would rather be doing something else. Hence, I spend a lot of time preparing myself to work, (which you could call procrastinating if you want). However, having a tidy room and a tidy desk helps me avoid distractions and get down to work.

What drives your success?
I think one of the things that scares me most in life is failure. I was always good at everything, I always passed my exams and managed everything I set my mind to. Don’t get me wrong, I worked hard for everything I have achieved so far. However, maybe it is this fear of failing that has always pushed me that extra mile. Perhaps this is something I should work on, to put all my efforts into something because I really want it and not because I am worried about what will happen if I do not succeed.

Books or resources you would recommend:
Harry Potter– being able to escape into the HP world and dream of hippogriffs, centaurs, magic spells and the ambivalence between good and evil definitely helped my imagination and my dealing with situations in life, so much that I have started reading the books all over again.

Human Anatomy – I picked this book up to prepare for my anatomy and physiology exams and while reading it and studying the images, I realised how important it is for each one of us to understand how our body works and operates. Our bodies are pure perfection, the way everything has been designed to the smallest detail and how it all works in sync for the purpose of life just fascinates and amazes me every time.

Ayurveda The Science of Self-Healing – This book has been my introduction to Ayurveda. I first learnt about this whole-body healing system from a lady that that was helping out in my family’s B&B in Tuscany. Everyday she used to teach me different aspects of Ayurveda and explain human behaviour or body reactions through it and, ever since then, I have wanted to know more. Ayurveda teaches that man is a microcosm; a universe lies within us, and its practice is designed to promote human happiness, health and creative growth.

People that inspire you and why:
My supervisor – is the kindest and most amiable person I have ever met. He will go out of his way to help any student that shows passion and interest and even if he has no time left, he will make more. He is smart and extremely straightforward; that is probably why we get on, as I cannot stand people that go round in circles. During our meetings, there were times when I was jumping with happiness for some good news I received or crying my eyes out because I had lost confidence in my work and myself. He has always been there for me and I would not be the person I am today without his influence and support.

My coach – I admire my coach because he has always known what he wanted in life and is working towards achieving it. For years, I thought that setting myself goals was the key to failure and that if I avoided aiming high I would not risk feeling disappointed. He has proven me wrong.
Setting goals gives someone purpose and direction and is definitely the key to success. I am grateful for having learnt so much about training and strength and conditioning from him but, at the same time, he has shown me a different way of approaching life which I am now trying to embrace.

What motivates you?
I am motivated by people’s smiles. Ron Gutman says “Smiling stimulates our brain reward mechanism in a way that even chocolate — a well-regarded pleasure inducer — cannot match.” Being able to get a smile from someone is one of the most rewarding feelings ever.

Summer Fun
Giulia in the sunshine

How do you set goals for yourself - personally and professionally?
I suggest that you sit back and have a think about what you want your future life to look like and work towards achieving it because you are capable of anything even if you do not believe it at the start.
At the moment, I have started setting myself short-term goals. What I am trying to understand is why I want to achieve certain things and how do I think they will benefit me in the future. The thought process I am following is:
  • Set a goal and a time by which you want to have achieved it.
  • What will achieving this goal bring you?
  • How will this impact your life?
  • How will you know when you have achieved it?
  • What will you do with your new skill?
  • How will you reward yourself?
  • Time to sit down and start making some goal planning

How do you stay focused on your long or short-term goals?
I keep my focus by thinking of where I was when I first started and how much progress I have made up to now. I keep in mind my motivation for achieving the goal. If I know the benefits that I will gain from reaching it and the feelings that will come with it, I find the strength to keep pushing through.
I also stay focused by defocusing and having some downtime to myself or simply meeting up with friends and having a laugh or a piece of cake. Actually giving myself a break helps me resume working on my goal with even more determination.

This time next year where do you see yourself?
This time next year, I will have worked for nearly one year in engineering and will have started my path towards chartership.
I see myself having gained experience as a personal trainer by coaching clients and offering them advice and support to help them reach their own goals.
Finally, I want to have booked a new exciting adventure in some far away land to follow up on my Kilimanjaro climb!!

Tell us your top 3 tips for success and words of encouragement:

1. “Life is not a problem to be solved, it's a mystery to be lived.” Osho

2. “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.
Paulo Coelho

3. “It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.” J. K. Rowling

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  1. Love this post and she is clearly a good example that woman can have, exercise and be intelligent! xx


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