Heroes Work Here: Manuela Maymo
23 September 2020
I was born in 1978 in the Swiss Alps to a Spanish father and Swiss mother. My birth was my first race against time after record snowfall seriously complicated my parents’ efforts to get to hospital on time!
I grew up surrounded by nature and cows before moving to Geneva as a teenager. I got my Spanish education during the summer holidays where I spent the most exciting moments of my childhood together with my sister. We went to Barcelona for two months each year and I learned to drive a Ducati, a sport car and to whistle at Camp Nou whenever FC Barça was playing!
I was raised in a large family that valued simple pleasures in life…endless meals, heated debates and long walks. Music played a big part in my early education, as my father was a musician. Today I try to pass on similar values to my daughter and son.
What inspires you?
Definitely my family and friends! They provide me with essential conversation and ideas to further develop my skills and roles. Difficulties in general inspire me. I thrive best when I don’t know how to do something, and I’m forced to find solutions to challenges.
What pieces of advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Be less emotional and listen to your head. Don’t be afraid of expressing your ideas and taking decisions. They remain valid today!!
Can you tell us a bit about what you do in your spare time?
I live! I spend my time eating, drinking good wine, laughing, talking, listing, going out with my friends, spending as much time as I can with my husband, my kids and the people I love. I also like sport: running, climbing, skiing, sailing, swimming and cycling, and as long as I’m outside, I’m happy.
If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
I would love to have an adult conversation with my father who passed away when I was 13. Maybe I’d also have dinner with Salvador Dali (or perhaps just a drink, as I don’t know if I could handle him for 3 dishes!)
What a single achievement are you most proud of?
I’m very proud of my children, although they are still a work in progress…then I would say that I’m particularly proud of the relationship I have with my sister, who has tolerated, supported and protected me and made me grow and laugh over the years. She is the strongest person I know.
What is the last thing you think about at the end of the day?
I tend to think about all sorts of fantasy situations. Having superpowers, being able to sing on stage like Nina Simone, organising my funeral, deleting WhatsApp from my mobile etc.
Do you travel for work? If so, where do you go?
Yes, in Europe most of the time to work with my boss. I like spending time with him as I learn a lot observing him working. I also travel where ZEDRA Group events take place…or at least I used to! The last time I was in a plane was nine months ago.
How do you think the industry will change in the next 5 years?
It’s no surprise that technology will of course change the way we live and work: artificial intelligence, robots in workplaces, solar panel technology, 3D printers, electric and self-driving cars, fast trains, virtual events, space tourism!
It sounds a bit scary, but at the same time, the emergence of these technologies creates opportunities for us to become more agile and make efficiency gains. Our industry is undergoing large-scale digital transformation which will enable us to identify different ways of serving our clients, creating digital platforms, exploring different channels of communication and improving data quality. Furthermore, our sector operates in a highly regulated environment which requires us to manage digitalisation for better transparency.
What are the responsibilities of your job?
I’m the PA of the Group Executive Chairman and except from the administrative tasks related to his functions and resolving diary clashes, my role is to be the point of contact between our external partners and the members of the Group.
My ambition is also to succeed in transmitting Bart’s (Deconinck – our Group Executive Chairman) inspirational message, his innovation, company vision and his strong desire to be the best in what we do!
I also work closely with the Marketing department, organising and promoting business and social events of the Group. Events contribute bringing people together which I find key for the business and employees.
What jobs and experiences have led you to your present positions?
I spent probably more than one third of my life dancing! I was passionate about it and aimed to earn a living dancing. I was casted to replace a professional dancer of a well-known band during its Swiss tour in the nineties, but…a star was definitely not born…
That said, given how chaotic concert organisation is, I realised that perfect coordination and arrangement was much more important than being a good dancer! So, then I decided to work in the event sector.
I completed business and journalism/communication studies in Geneva before spending a year in Australia where I learned English. My first job was at MCI Group in the congress organisation department, before I met with my two mentors in the Trust & Fund industry with who I have been working for almost 20 years.
What makes ZEDRA unique in the industry?
With no doubt our people! The motivation and enthusiasm of the staff is priceless for a company. And the ambitions and trust of our Management make all the difference. The combination of human values and the heritage of the bank expertise and fiduciary savoir-faire make our Group unique and very strong.