BRIGITTE KAPS - EXECUTIVEPR.CH AND RENTAPR.CH
Brigitte Kaps is the Founder and CEO of ExecutivePR.ch and RentaPR.ch. With over 20 years of experience in international management positions with leading foreign banks (ABN Amro, GE, RBS) and a Master of Advanced Studies in Business Communications and a degree in communications and economics, Brigitte certainly stands out in any crowd. With offices in Verbier and Zurich, she is able to combine her love of the outdoors with the work she loves.
Before she decided to become self-employed in 2015, Brigitte was responsible for corporate communications & PR at a listed Swiss Bank as a member of the Executive Board and is currently actively involved in the Swiss Fintech and Crypto Scene. It's safe to say that this is one lady I couldn't wait to find out more about, and I certainly wasn't disappointed. Brigitte is vibrant, intensely bright, refreshingly candid in sharing her story and deeply passionate about her work and women CEOs everywhere.
Here she is in her own words to share her journey with us. Over to you, Brigitte...
SO, BRIGITTE, WHATS YOUR STORY?
I grew up in a middle-class family of civil servants in Middle Hesse, Germany. After finishing my secondary education at the age of 17, my parents were convinced that studying at a university would not be worthwhile for a young woman because, at some point, she would ultimately marry. Instead, I should do something respectable and pursue a commercial education.
Naïve as I was then, I followed their counsel without question. I started a respectable commercial education, fell in love with my then-dream man and married at 19. A joint lawyer ended the marriage amicably after ten years, and the divorce was cordially sealed with a bottle of wine at an Italian restaurant.
With two suitcases and fewer than five boxes, I left my home and moved to Frankfurt am Main to begin my professional career in investment banking at one of the world's largest foreign banks.
The path to the top was rocky and rough. For nine years, I studied communications, languages, and economics in parallel with demanding jobs. The working hours in investment banking are intense – 'work hard, play hard' was our motto, and, despite having double the work, I had a blast. I had a goal: to one day work on a board and leave a mark on the company's development.
When I was offered the position of Head of Communications & PR in the senior management team of an international bank in 2010, I had finally reached my goal – or so I thought at the time. But it turned out differently; there was still more to come.
The following five years of work were again very intense, but I loved my job and working with a team dominated by men. Luckily, there were no discussions about gender or disadvantages to being a woman. I'm still grateful for this today and am still in touch with most of my teammates. After the bank was successfully listed on the stock exchange – something I was also heavily involved in – I asked myself the usual question: what's next? That's how I decided to found my own company and subsequently found two more.
Every day I am grateful for my achievements in my professional life. I succeeded without assistance from my family or investors and without compromising my integrity on my way to the top. I write this to dispel any such rumours. Anything is possible – you need to want it.
I'm not a 'Powerfrau' (superwoman). I detest that word. But I am a businesswoman and entrepreneur who absolutely loves what she does and always goes the extra mile, not only for herself but also for her clients. My friends and family know my other side: caring, sensitive, loyal, reliable and fun. That's at least what I am told.
Yes, I have a personal life, but I reserve the right not to discuss this here. I have already had more personal matters reported than I would like! Thanks to the wonderful publisher Tricia, I share my story, my way with you today.
YOU'VE EXPERIENCED A LOT OF CHANGE AND DISRUPTION DURING YOUR CAREER AND GROWN SIGNIFICANTLY WITH EACH CHALLENGE. HOW DO YOU NAVIGATE CHANGE SO WELL?
Change is great. Sometimes it was challenging because change came out of the blue, but looking back, it always opened new doors to great opportunities.
I love Albert Einstein's quote: "The measure of intelligence is the ability to change".
YOU'VE WORKED IN SOME PRETTY HEAVILY MALE DOMINATED COMPANIES, DID YOU FIND THIS CHALLENGING?
I still work in a male-dominated world: the world of the entrepreneur. Looking back, I loved working in male-dominated companies. My credo was, "do not be more masculine than the men but do not forget that you own the significant characteristics of a woman. Use them professionally". And if you work on an executive job level, you have to deliver results - independent if you are a man or a woman. This is the way you are respected, especially by men.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE CRITICISM?
I am a good listener, as long as it is objective criticism. But there is one rule: never retract, apologise, and explain. Listen and then get the things done.
WHATS THE FIRST THING YOU CHECK IN YOUR BUSINESS DAILY?
I check to see if it's raining; I go on a run every morning...
YOU'RE CLEARLY A 'PEOPLE PERSON' AND THIS IS A KNOWN STRENGTH WHEN BUILDING A BUSINESS (ESPECIALLY IN PR) WHAT OTHER PERSONAL STRENGTHS DO YOU BELIEVE HAVE HELPED TO DEVELOP YOUR BUSINESS TODAY AND WHY?
Positivity, Reliability and Willingness to always go the extra mile.
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND DIFFICULT ON YOUR JOURNEY AND WHAT WOULD YOU AVOID IF YOU WERE ABLE TO DO IT ALL AGAIN?
I wouldn't change it. It has been challenging and exciting at the same time. But you know, when the going gets tough, put one foot in front of the other and just keep going.
WHAT’S YOUR TOP TIP FOR ENTREPRENEURS READING THIS ARTICLE?
Stay positive, believe in yourself and love what you do. If you love what you do, it is no longer work.
WHICH MOTIVATIONAL SONG WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO ADD TO THE FEMALE CEO'S #GIRLBOSS PLAYLIST ON SPOTIFY FOR YOU?
There are these typical songs:"work hard, play hard" by Whiz Khalifa or "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus. But I recently heard a great song with great lyrics by Lazarusman "Xinobi"
HOW WOULD YOUR BEST FRIEND DESCRIBE YOU?
Reliable. Entrepreneurial. Honest. Fun.
DO YOU HAVE A BOOK OR FAVOURITE PODCAST RECOMMENDATION FOR OUR FEMALE CEO MEMBERS?
I enjoy podcasts by Rob Dial - The mindset mentor and, Macht & Millionen (Business Insider). I read a lot and would recommend all books from Richard Branson and Rand Fishkins book "Lost and Founder".
WHEN WE SPOKE WE TALKED ABOUT JOB TITLES AND HOW COMPETENCY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAT TITLES. CAN YOU ELABORATE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS?
A job title is only worth as much as the competencies associated with it.
DO YOU HAVE A LIFE RULE THAT YOU CHOOSE TO LIVE BY?
A simple smile. That's the start of opening your heart and being compassionate to others - Dalai Lama
... and on the other hand, a smile is the best way to show your teeth to enemies :-)
WHAT DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE?
I only have one life to live. That's why I don't spend time with toxic people, and I try to avoid as much as possible negativity in my life.
WHAT MAKES YOU TRULY HAPPY AND HOW DO YOU HANDLE LIFES HURDLES?
I accept that there are downtimes in a life. I get over them by hiking on a peak of a mountain or skiing.