ZEDRA Senior Trust Officer Anisa Fadzan talks to us about what it took to win an international bodybuilding competition, the importance of determination and why she feels that you have to be brave enough to actually help people.


ZEDRA brings together a multitude of different personalities, cultures and nationalities, but something that unites us all together is our shared ambition to do more, and achieve more.

Anisa Fadzan, Senior Trust Officer in ZEDRA’s Geneva office was nominated as a ZEDRA Heroine for the determination that led to her taking first and second place in her category at the 2021 International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness’ international and national competitions within a year of beginning training. In our latest article, Anisa shares her thoughts on how the mindset that got her to the podium can be the key to achieving success, whatever your goals or aspirations.

Anisa, tell us about your early career. What did you learn about yourself through that process?

When I was at university, like so many of my friends, we had little part-time jobs everywhere, and one of my friends asked me if I wanted to work in the bank where he worked. I had zero experience in finance, but my friend said, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll just be opening the mail and doing basic admin tasks’, and I thought, fair enough, let me try. If you don’t try, you don’t know. So I did. It went well and I was then asked if I wanted to do the STEP course, and I thought, I might as well, it’s a good diploma to have. Once I had my diploma, I was able to work as a junior trust officer in Geneva, and moved to Barclays Trust, just a few months before it became ZEDRA.

The most important thing I gained through that process is the understanding that you can always learn, you’re never too old, and if you want to succeed in something, learn. Take as much information as people can give you in order to do your job better and progress.

What were the challenges and opportunities for you, and how did you approach them?

Before I joined Barclays, I was working in an environment that wasn’t very positive, and it really took a toll on me psychologically. It was a transition period for the company I was working for, and when they ended up letting people go, including me, it really was the best outcome. It’s easy to get used to difficult situations, and lose sight of the fact that you need a change. What could have been a negative turned into a real opportunity for me, because it allowed me to expand my career and be where I am now. It’s really all about the mindset you approach things with.

It was the same with the thought of going back to studying for my diploma, after being out of school and university for a while. It was definitely stressful at first, because you’re out of the habit. But I really wanted to succeed, do my best and get the diplomas out of the way, so I was 100% there. That’s really part of my character, every time I do something I just want to do my best. You take the opportunities that are given to you – good and bad – and try to make the most out of them. Especially when it’s something that depends on me, I’m going to go and do it, and do my best. I know that if I do my best, the outcome will be good.

Tell us more about how that mindset contributed to you winning the 2021 International and Swiss National IFBB bodybuilding championships in your category?

Looking back, I think I’ve always been good at sports. It was something that was easy for me. I’ve always gone to the gym, and I owned a pole dancing studio for two years (practicing for 8 years) (where I taught and took people to competitions, even world competitions. In 2019, I went to see a friend of mine in a bodybuilding competition, and I saw the girls on stage and thought, this looks like fun. Some of them didn’t look that muscular at all, and because I had been teaching pole dancing for eight years, my upper body was very developed. I wasn’t a bodybuilder, but I thought, I have more arms and shoulders than some of these girls, I want to try this.

So I have arthritis in my right hip, but I thought, let’s see if I can wear heels and do this, do that and work towards getting stage lean, just to try it. My friends said to me, ‘Stop lying to yourself, you know you just want to win’. And they were right. Of course I wanted to win. Like I said, if I can do more, I will do more to reach my goal, regardless of what it is.

There was only myself standing between me reaching this goal to reach stage weight, to do my steps, to do my cardio and my training. So it was down to me, no complaining. No matter how tired I was, I viewed it as my second job, and I had to do it. I realised quite soon that I don’t like losing and when I’m in it, I’m in it 100%.

In the year leading up to the competitions, I worked really closely with my coach to get to the right level of fitness. You have to be really diligent and consistency is the key; your sleep, water intake, food intake, it all has to be the consistent. You need to monitor your stress, and of course Covid was just starting in 2020, so stress levels were high but I managed to get them under control, and I worked out that I wasn’t too bothered by tracking my food intake every day and doing all these things. So when 2021 started, together with my coach, we thought, ‘We’re in a good place, let’s do it, let’s do a show’.

I participated in two competitions last year, one International and one Swiss National – the annual IFBB Champion Bikini Fitness <166cm and the SBFV Champion Bikini Fitness Master in which I was placed first and second.  Getting to that level was really hard work, you have to lose as much body fat as possible, and my coach decided that we would do it the long way, losing fat slowly in order not to lose muscle. My prep started in March right through to my first show in October 2021 and then my second show in November. My friends said to me, ‘You never complained about it’, but what do you want me to complain about, I’m the one that decided I want to do it, I can only complain to myself!

You make that choice that you want to achieve something, and if you don’t do what the coach asks, then you’re only disappointing yourself. Your coach wants you to do as well as you can, but she’s not the one who’s going to take you step by step through the training and be there 24/7 – that’s on you.

Through the process I realised that I actually do have that stubborn side to my character and when I decide that I want to do something and the outcome depends on me, then yes, I will stick to it and I will do what’s needed to reach my goal.

How do you bring that attitude into your day-to-day role at ZEDRA?

I’d definitely say I’m someone who is very focused at work. The tasks that are mine, or the ones we have to finish as a team, I’m focused on them 100% and then we move onto the next.  I’ve always had good teams to back me up, and I’m a good back up for my team. So if there’s ever an issue, we address it all together and work through it.

I also feel I’m able to give the best of myself to my role and my work because I have the release of going to the gym. At the gym all you think about is the sets, the reps, and how you react to the exercise. You live in that moment for yourself. I don’t take my phone when I train, I don’t want any distractions. The one hour I take to train is the one hour that is for me and only for me. It’s become such a part of my life that if I don’t train I feel like something’s missing.

Do you have a personality attribute or skill that you use to help others?

I love watching baking shows on TV, and I always get an urge to bake, but I’m not really someone who likes dessert too much, so I bring cakes into work, which makes my team happy. There was this one really amazing chocolate cake that I wanted to make, but I got the chocolate ganache wrong, and it didn’t set, it was more like a chocolate sauce. I was so mad, but I still took it into the office and said, ‘This is not good, I messed up with this one’ and they said ‘You can mess it up again, we don’t mind, just make sure you bring it into the office!’.

I would say I’m a people person, I like to take care of people’s wellbeing. I’ve been through some stuff in my own life, and when I see people struggling through things, I’m always going to do my best to help them through it. I’ve been through it and I know how to come out of it in the best possible way, so I want to help. I’ll always pay it forward.

If you had to sum up the key to achieving success in a few words – what would they be?

Determination. Consistency. Being goal driven, because if you’re not, you won’t succeed. If you just look at yourself in the moment, without seeing the end goal, you’ll just think ‘I’m tired, I can’t do it’. So ask yourself, ‘What’s your why? Why are you doing this?’. It’s not about today, it’s all about achieving that goal that’s a few months ahead of you, so if you want to achieve that, you have to suck it up and do it today.

If you had to name some qualities that you think a hero would display, what would they be?

Selfless. Good. Genuine. And brave. You have to be brave enough and actually help people. Some people think, ‘I could have said something’ – but then why didn’t you? Take that action, say what you need to, do what you need to do.

What words of wisdom would you like to pass on to colleagues who are just starting out on their own journey with ZEDRA?

Believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask. We are all learning, and we keep learning every day. Every new day is a new opportunity to learn new things, to get better at what you know. The work we do at ZEDRA is always going to evolve, there are new opportunities every day, new problems to solve. And then don’t forget the importance of teamwork. Don’t get stuck trying to solve things on your own, ask around, someone will have an answer, or together we will find a way to figure out the answer. A team of us is always better than one person on their own.

Do you have a personal philosophy?

To me it’s all about determination. I believe that regardless of your goal, whether it’s getting to the gym, losing weight, learning a new skill, it’s the determination to reach your goal that becomes the most important factor in whether you succeed or not. Choose your goal, be determined – and the motivation will come.

What do you feel most proud of in your career at ZEDRA?

I love my role in our team. We all help each other, it’s never one of us on their own. I like the fact that there’s always someone to ask, and everyone’s so nice to each other.

What are four words that describe the approach you bring to your role at ZEDRA?

I’m a team player that’s for sure. Reliable. Loyal. Selfless.

If you had a superhero power – what would it be? 

Because we haven’t been able to travel as much, it would be amazing to have a superpower that would let you go anywhere in the blink of an eye. Or to be Harry Potter and be able to use magic, that would be so cool. Just think, wave the magic wand and do the dishes.

What do you hope people will gain from reading your story?

I would like to hope that people could start believing in themselves a little bit more. And start to take the initiative with more things. Don’t wait for others to come to you, be more out there, open to the people around you, talk to everyone. It’s when you open out, interact with more people, and work as a team that you can achieve the most.