A JOURNEY FULL OF DECISIONS.
It all started when I was around 10 years old and forged the dream of going to France after finishing school.The remarkable thing was the dream changed into certainty long before it was realised. After my high school leaving exams the inevitable took its course – a year in France as a volunteer in a Christian guesthouse and several months in the South of Italy helping in a handweaver’s workshop. After a training course to become a foreign language business secretary, a job came up as a technical translator in Paris.
All good, you might have thought. It was in the beginning, but after five years I asked myself if this was really the fulfillment of my initial life’s dream and came to the conclusion that an „intellectual production line“ didn’t fulfill my wish for a creative occupation in combination with my best talent – handling figures. A time of doubt and searching followed and another door opened: the possibility of a University course in Economics, on the second chance education. After the two year foundation course I got the chance to study at the famous Grande École „Sup de Co de Paris“. I lived 3 lovely, exciting student years, including a term at the University of St Gallen and a 2 month internship at Henkel Co. KG in Switzerland.
Whilst I was a student sport played an important role. With some of my fellow students I trained in women’s rowing eights and took part in prestigious competitions such as the French University championships as well as an international championship on the Versailles Canal against Oxford and Cambridge.
In 1996 I graduated from the der École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris in Economics majoring in Strategy and Finance. Once again there was the question of which country to start my professional career in. Paris, France appeared less suitable as it couldn’t offer a fitting framework for my son who had been born in the meantime. Also, in the French world of employment success depended on one’s solitary efforts and not on a consensus or teamwork as in the protestant influenced countries of Germany and Switzerland.
Life's Turning Points
I thus went to Düsseldorf to help with the establishment of a Startup, a branch of a japanese company overseen by the European main office in France. What was required were knowledge of foreign languages, a person used to the routine day to day work of the company and a conceptual thinker for future strategic decisions. I stayed for eight years at Ryobi Technologies GmbH, was promoted from initial Administration Manager to Finance Manager. In 2004 the job came to a sudden end, due to the restructuring of the branch and the merger of the Finance Department with another subsidiary. A blow at the time, but a stroke of luck in hindsight.
After two years of project team work with DKV Euroservices Co. KG to establish a new company in the Netherlands, I got a sudden and unexpected offer from Switzerland at the beginning of 2007, for a Finance Manager in the EMEA head office of the American petrol engine manufacturers Briggs &Stratton. I had to make the decision in less than two weeks and in less than two months it meant transplanting the whole family. I needed to find a suitable place to live, that was within reach of nursery and primary schools as well as childcare establishments. The challenge was taken up and the goal was reached.
The sale of a terraced house in Düsseldorf took a little longer, but this was also successfully accomplished in the same year on the previously set terms. A new life began in Switzerland after 10 years in Paris and 10 years in Düsseldorf. Professionally there was another change after two years with Briggs&Stratton. Looking for closer contact with customers and the day to day business, I changed to ADP Dealer Services Switzerland GmbH as the manager of Finance & Administration.
A Homebase in Life
After a few years in Switzerland I again felt a desire for my own property. The conditions for finding an affordable property without the required capital deposit in highly priced Switzerland looked bad. A strategic plan was necessary. Straight away the key figures were worked through with my bank. A successfully rented property in Paris was to be sold, to generate the necessary deposit. In order to avoid putting the current tenant in difficulties the project was discussed with him as soon as possible and he was offered the flat at a fair price. When he turned the offer down the best possible price was obtained on the free property market. At the same time a systematic search for available properties around Obersee/Zürichsee began, taking many months, until eventually a suitable property was found in the small town of Wald in the canton of Zürich. As the cost effectiveness was right, it was decided on the compromise of leaving the immediate lake-shore of Lachen. A mistake, as was to emerge later. The closer the moving date got, the more unconfortable family members felt about it. They were uneasy and not coping well with the thought of yet another change in their social environment.
Things turned out differently. Two days after the exchange of contracts a terraced property in Lachen „fell from the sky“ and within two further days we settled with the sellers and the bank. What outwardly looks like a knee-jerk reaction was part of a well thought through financial plan which always adapted or was adapting itself to the outward conditions. Today the house in Wald is rented out and through good management makes a constant financial return which enables the financing of the property in Lachen. Even though the original strategic plan looked different, all this was only able to be achieved because a plan existed. At the same time I was also sensitive to the wishes and dreams of family members and open to chance. In 2012 my job was again subject to restructuring and was consequently dismantled. Again a negative happening was to offer a new chance. During my University studies and many years of professional experience I have learned a great deal about finances and have applied this professionally as well as in my private life. Constant challenges in private and professional circumstances have taught me to make decisions, sometimes in a short space of time but sometimes over a longer period. Most of these decisions were easy to take as I was able to apply my theoretical knowledge to work through and actually take them.
Now I would like to make this knowledge available to people who are facing important decisions in the areas of property (A homebase in Life) pension provision and budget planning (Times of Change in Life) and moving home (Life's Turning Points).