ELIZABETH LEUPIN

My uncle Ernest Leupin was a true entrepreneur and adventurer. After the First World War, nothing kept him in little Switzerland; he wanted to see the world. When he was sixteen, he packed his bags and joined the crew of a ship to take him to New York. Attracted by the Amazon rubber boom of the time, he moved further south. My father, Max Leupin was a bit more down to earth, he was a teacher, but in those days there were few vacancies for teachers. So he followed his brother’s call to Colombia to help him with a big business. Uncle Ernest got a huge order from the Colombian government to make raincoats out of rubber. Over the years, the raincoat production became the largest rubber factory in Colombia. They also took on the production of tennis shoes, the famous Croydon shoes. As cars became more and more popular, they partnered with US Rubber and started making Uniroyal tires. My father had originally planned to stay in Colombia only for one year to help set up the company, but he ended up staying until his death, 53 years later.

My parents did not expect any offspring because of their advanced age. My father raised me to be independent from very early on, as he always thought that he might die soon. Also, he very much promoted my great passion: horse-back riding which I pursued on professional level for many years. At the age of 29, I became the youngest consul for Switzerland. But the onset of political unrest forced me to leave the country overnight. I was already divorced from my husband at the time and had to decide where to go with my children, who were then ten, thirteen and fifteen years old. The answer became clear very quickly: to Switzerland.

That is why on March 23, 2000, we landed after an arduous journey in Bern Belp, where we arrived with 9 suitcases, 3 children, my 84-year-old mother and at 3 degrees Celsius. I first had to place the children in school and then find a job as quickly as possible. I went to UBS joining their “Group Risk Systems”. It was a very difficult time but soon I could switch to the Bank for Banks desk. I was in the team for six years, first as an account manager, then as the leader of the group and finally responsible for Trade Finance sales. When UBS Private Banking came up to me and asked if I wanted to join their Latam team, it was a great opportunity for me. But then the whole team quit and switched to Clariden Leu. For me, it was a tough decision, but I joined in and started on October 1, 2008 – just in time for the start of the financial crisis. I got the order to centralize the external asset managers from Latin America. It was a highly successful time in which I also met the founders of Axxets. Then, the integration of Clariden Leu to Credit Suisse followed, and of course, there was already a team doing exactly the same thing as us – just not as successfully. But CS did not want to let us go. They ranked us above the CS team. I would be responsible for this new team and became Managing Director. But after some internal restructuring I had enough of the big banks. I packed my things and less than an hour later I got a call from Axxets, offering me a cooperation.