Balancing the Grind with Francesca Milani, Fashion & Sustainability Consultant

Francesca Milani is a Fashion & Sustainability Consultant, and the former Head of Merchandising for PUMA Group in the Middle East.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I built most of my career in Dubai. I lived there for 13 years, working for Puma. I covered the role of merchandiser, eventually as the Head of Merchandising and Board member for Puma Middle East.

Before that I was in Milan, in Luxottica, working on an innovative project on automatic replenishment systems. I am now back in Milan, to invest in a career in sustainability and to open my own start up.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I am actually more busy now, that I don’t have an employer. The only advantage is that I don’t have to go to the office.

I spend a lot of time on the computer, following different projects, between consultancy, creating a workshop of circular fashion, talking to people on the phone, following webinars.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Yes that is the most exciting thing. After 15 years working for multinational companies, I never had the opportunity to have some time for myself and to decide what to do and how to spend my time.

It is really a nice feeling to know that what you are doing is for yourself. I have finally been able to identify my passion (you know Ikigai?) I am getting closer. I just need to find a salary now.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

For me work-life balance is very important. Work needs to be a tool to allow you to do something you like, allowing you to achieve your goals, whether it’s traveling, money, ambition, satisfaction, network, etc.. Anything that makes you happy.

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5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Well I would say so. I left a city I lived in for 13 years and I am now back in my home country. Thank God most of my friends and my family are here so I feel less lonely and it is less difficult to start over completely. For the rest I am trying to keep my habits, eat healthy, gym, pilates, a glass of wine here and there.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?


  • Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
  • Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
  • Educated, Tara Westover


  • Crazy Genius
  • Design Matters with Debbie Millman
  • Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
  • Reimagining Success with Anna S. E. Lundberg (she is my coach)
  • The Daily – The New York Times
  • Talk at Google

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Not really, my iPhone?

8) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Most of the time you hear about finding your passion and making it a job. I thought that was just a nice to hear thing, but I never believed it was possible.

I now believe that if you find something you are really passionate about, give it a chance. You don’t need to quit your job, but start following it, as it is true that the “universe” or simply said “new doors” will open. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.