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Surval Online Conference Series - My Journey After Surval

24 May 2021

My Journey After Surval
Paulina Gaille (2006, Mexico)

Survalienne Paulina hosted April’s Inspiring Women Online Conference and spoke with our students about the work life balance and her approach to juggling motherhood with professional ambition.

Having loved Surval Summer Camp 2003, Paulina decided to complete her Grade 11 and 12 academic studies at Surval, also returning to Switzerland for her Degree. Paulina subsequently married Raphaël (they met in Montreux!), and moved to Geneva in 2010.  She started work at a Trust Company, becoming a Trust and Estate Practitioner ("TEP") and working for Rothschild Trust for almost 5 years. In 2016, her son Mateo was born and Paulina is expecting a little girl this summer! 

“I started in 2003 with Summer Camp”, Paulina explained. “This is where I realised this place is really something and I want to come back here”.  Paulina then took it upon herself to arrange her own application to join Surval for the following academic year.  She told our girls,

“You should be mindful of the time you are spending here; of all the classes you have here at Surval; the difference between what your friends at home are learning and following. I had Marketing, Etiquette, all these languages, I was able to travel around Europe and see all these beautiful places. It was a very life-changing experience. I was only supposed to stay for one year and then go home but I decided to stay and continue the high school programme until 2006”.

Paulina went back to Mexico and started working in the family business but decided to return to Switzerland’s European University in Montreux for a Bachelor degree in Business Administration.

She said,

“That was a real turning point; you never know where life will take you! Thanks to Surval I had all the values and confidence that I needed for university: punctuality, dress code, manners, knowing the international environment.”

Paulina has now lived in Switzerland for the last 15 years. She met her husband in the 1st year at university; her plans of returning to Mexico changed. She says that thanks to Surval, her level in French was high and for this reason she was able to get a great internship in a multinational company, in internal auditing. It was a real eye opener as she was able to see what company life is like. Especially the cultural aspects.  She urged our girls,

“I really advise you to make the most of every single class that you are taking, be mindful of it, don’t take it for granted!  You go through life doing so many things but you are not really aware of the things you are doing and how they will help you in your future”.

In 2010, Paulina moved to Geneva with her husband, Raphaël. She says looking for a job in Geneva is very competitive as you are not only competing with Swiss people but also international applicants. It is thus very important to make clear what your story is and to state your achievements on your CV,

“You are competing with the whole world so put yourself out as the best version of you, appreciate what you have in Surval and the Swiss environment and experience it to your fullest.  You only have control of what you are doing now, if you take the opportunities of what you have today, you will see you will create wonderful things for yourself.  The friends you have now at Surval will be your friends in 15 years; thanks to Surval, I have friends all over the world that I can turn to”

Paulina started working in the Trust sector and ended up working for the Rothchild family in their Trust as a Trust Administrator.  She advised,

“Punctuality is key in a company but it is also key with a family. As a working mother, everything had a schedule and if I was one minute late, it would throw off the entire day’s events.  Etiquette classes are essential! They saved me during my business lunches and now, as a wife,  I’m grateful for everything I have learned as it helps me hosting dinners for my husband’s clients and colleagues”

“At Surval you create a strong sisterhood, where you learn from each other, share so many different emotions with one another, discover and explore so many things together. These experiences create a lifelong bond like no other.  Embrace everything you are learning at this point as it is going to be your starting point for your journey, like for me with a little summer camp”.

Paulina worked at Rothchild for 5 years.  Now a mum to little Mateo and with her second child on the way, Paulina has decided to focus on her family for the time being, playing an active part in Mateo’s school life and supporting the school’s charity team.  She emphasised the importance of stamping out a role for yourself,

“It is about choosing what you are going to do in your role, in your career, in motherhood, in your student life. I encourage you to think where you are standing, to be mindful, so you can be your best version.  Don’t just be seated in the back of the bus and having someone steer your life; take control of your life, take the steering wheel, because we all have that potential, you should really embrace your life and your opportunities!”  To any opportunity which has come Paulina’s way, she said  “I will say yes a hundred times!”

Paulina’s perspective is that life comes in stages; you can do many different things, a career, motherhood, studies. When you have a career, it doesn’t have to mean that you must keep climbing the career ladder all your life. Similarly, becoming a mother doesn’t mean that you will no longer have a career or projects you are passionate about.    “The journey never stops, you have to navigate through your life gracefully, there is always some opportunity, always something to do and be involved in”.

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