1) Whose idea was it for you to go to Switzerland? How did you end up at Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz?
I was 15 years old and I wanted to study abroad. I had heard Switzerland was a diverse and multi-cultural place, so I started expressing interest in studying there to my father. After some persuasion, my parents and I visited 3 different schools in Switzerland and we found Zuoz to be the better fit for us, as it offered a very down-to-earth atmosphere. Before giving me his final approval, my father tested my commitment level and told me I could only go if I agreed to studying in German. Once I said yes, he realized I was serious about it, and we moved forward with my enrollment.
2) When you boarded the flight to Switzerland: excitement or fear?
A mix of both! My entire family (parents and siblings) accompanied me to school, so the “fear” only kicked in after they all left. However, the school’s routine keeps you so busy that you don’t really have time to feel homesick.
3) Did you do a Summer Camp prior to enrolling in a full academic year?
No, but Zuoz allowed me to do a one-week trial at the school which was great, because I had the opportunity to sleep and stay at the school, have a room-mate and experience the school’s daily life. Once that week was over, I knew I wanted to be a student there.
4) Were you fluent in English or German prior to going to Zuoz?
My English was a bit rusty (but good), and I spoke zero German.
5) Favorite subjects?
Economics with Mr. Campbell and Theory of Knowledge (TOK) with Mr. Handerson.
6) What did you enjoy doing on your free time?
Hanging out with my friends at Walther’s Café-Restaurant and skiing.
7) Do you keep in touch with any of your school mates from Zuoz?
Absolutely! Two years ago, we attended a classmate’s wedding in Serbia and there were about 10 of us from school there. I also have Italian friends who visit South America often and next week I’m going on vacation and I’ll actually be meeting up with two of them. We also have a WhatsApp group chat – so yes, I’m very much in touch with my friends.
8) Did your family notice any big changes in you after your time in Switzerland?
I would say primarily a growth in my independence –being able to catch a flight or a train by myself, etc.
9) Would you send your kids to Switzerland?
It depends on their goals and aspirations. Boarding schools offer a freedom which, although controlled, requires children to have a good head on their shoulders in order to make the right choices, so I will assess my children when the time comes.
10) Where did you go to after Zuoz?
I attended Colorado State University for a little while. I was interning at the same time and after catching myself falling asleep in classes, I decided to focus on my internship and I dropped out of college.
11) Your company, JBS, founded “Escola Germinare” 12 years ago. Germinare is an incredible business school which offers complimentary education for low-income students. How did this project come about?
My uncle and father wanted to contribute to a social cause. Since education is the foundation of everything, that’s what they chose to pursue.
12) How many hours per day do you work? Do you have time for hobbies?
I work 12 to 13 hours a day. Yes, you have time to have hobbies, but you can’t work 12 hours a day in something that doesn’t bring you joy, so your job needs to be one of your hobbies too.
13) Any good advice you received along the way?
My father gave me a good piece of advice as I was starting my career: “Be the first to arrive and the last to leave. You will have more time to learn, and it will help you earn the respect of your peers”.
14) Complete this sentence for us:
You can’t be a successful CEO unless….you focus on people!
15) If I could go back in time, is there anything you would have changed about your time in school?
I would have gone on more trips! My cousin and I took great trips to Lisbon and Marrakesh, but I wish I had traveled more.