First we are born and then, we decide.
I gave it all up and moved to my wife’s country in an effort to support her wish to be closer to her elderly parents.
I was born to a large family in Panama, a small Central American country. My late father and uncles were Certified Public Accountants (CPAs); some of which created the largest accounting and consulting firm in the country at the time and were associated with Touche Ross, today Deloitte and Touche.
As a member of my family’s second generation, I grew up with older cousins who were successful professionals: CPAs, engineers, medical doctors, politicians and other disciplines.
My mother’s family was also extensive, and my uncles and cousins are either in business, lawyers or Doctors in Dental Medicine.
I have been living in Switzerland for almost three decades where I moved to support my wife who wished to be closer to her elderly parents. It is a decision I certainly do not regret, but that has required a lot of efforts and personal cost, in particular having to leave behind family and friends, learn a new language and adapt to a different culture.
Curiosity. This had led me to study diverse disciplines.
From a MBA at the University of Chicago, a MSc in Risk Management at New York University-NYU, a MPA at Harvard University, a Doctoral degree from Case Western Reserve University to a Master in Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy at Oxford University.
Integrating all of this knowledge has allowed me to create services that my clients find useful in their quest for wiser and enhanced ways of living their lives and managing their organizations. It also allowed me to design programs and courses such as the Executive Master in Positive Leadership and Strategy (EXMPLS) and the Mindfulness-Based Strategic Awareness Training (MBSAT) that my students and clients find beneficial, and in many cases even life changing.
Integrating all of this knowledge has allowed me to create services that my clients find useful in their quest for wiser and enhanced ways of living their lives and managing their organizations.
It’s been a long road since I started working…
All my experience has allowed me to design programs and courses such as the Executive Master in Positive Leadership and Strategy (EXMPLS) and the Mindfulness-Based Strategic Awareness Training (MBSAT) that my students and clients find beneficial, and in many cases, even life changing.
I started my career as a young auditor with one of my uncles who insisted that in order to be successful in the world of commerce, one needed to understand the numbers: accounting and finance. Soon I became CFO at an industrial company, and subsequently at an engineering firm. I took a year to work as financial expert with the agricultural division of the Organization of American States OAS, helping Caribbean small farmers’ organizations optimize their finances. Then I worked with KPMG for several years before moving to Switzerland where I started as Director of Planning of a large hospitality conglomerate. My last employed job was as member of senior management at UBS headquarters in Zurich where I organized a new department from scratch, the Asset Management and Rescheduling Corporate Finance for Emerging Markets. Under my management, this unit became the bank’s most lucrative unit at the time. Over the past few years I have successfully run my own professional practice in Zurich, advising companies and individuals, and at times invest in other firms and projects. One of these projects was a Swiss electro-engineering company. I was the company’s Chairman and a major shareholder until 2014 when my partner and I sold the firm to the employees in a management buy-out. UBS acted as the financial advisors and capital providers for this transaction.
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Mindfulness, Positive Psychology and me…
Jeff, my roommate at Berkeley, was a war veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) who couldn’t sleep due to nightmares. Following the advice of the late C.W. Churchman, professor and a founder of the field of Operations Research (OR), he started to go to mindful meditation classes with E. Easwaran, one of the first mindfulness meditation teachers in an American university. A couple of months later, he was able to sleep through the night. Having witnessed this outcome, I joined Jeff and was introduced to “Passage Mindfulness Meditation” a couple of decades ago.During my doctorate I studied Appreciative Modes of Inquiry, which subsequently led me to pursue studies in Positive Psychology (PP). The combination of mindfulness practices and PP interventions has proven highly beneficial, helping me master difficult challenges in my professional and private life, such as successfully adapting to a different culture and coping with tough personal ordeals. It has also inspired and enriched how I manage, coach, consult, teach and do business.
Aikido, Yoga, Kickboxing, Music…
Fairness is another of my Signature Character Strengths. Maybe that is the reason why I like Aikido and Kickboxing so much. It is just you and your partner with no possibility of tricking one another. If you get distracted, you will either get punched, thrown on the floor or strain a muscle. You are responsible for the consequences: there is no moral hazard— you make a mistake, you pay the price. Yoga requires a similar concentration. I like Yoga very much as its quiet focus on movement has a meditative quality.I have been practicing these disciplines for many years now. I began with Kickboxing as an attacking sport, training with my teacher Omar Gerini, a Swiss champion. After practicing intensively for many years I moved on to Aikido. I guess as a result of getting mindfully wiser I felt attracted by the intricacies of a martial art based on a defense that seeks to neutralize the adversary without inflicting harm. After years of practice, I became a black belt under the Swiss Aikido Association and Aikikai, the Japanese Aikido Federation. I have also practiced Yoga for several years now with my friend and colleague, Dr. Johannes Glarner.Music has a special role in my life. While visiting one of my American professors, a worldwide bestselling author and originator of several management theories including Emotional Intelligence in the workplace, I noticed that he had music playing softly in his office. He told me that he works and writes with music in the background to help him concentrate. His comment made me feel good because I feel similarly. Music can change my mood in seconds; if I am a bit stressed, listening to music changes my mood instantaneously. I feel lucky to benefit from this sensibility. So, I really enjoy listening to music, a pastime inherited from my father.