Asunción Zaragoza

CEO & CFO of ORPEA in Spain and Portugal

I pursued university studies in law, followed by a Business School MBA. After a few years of professional experience, in 2002 I became the Financial Director of a group called Grupo Care, which managed retirement homes in Spain. This company was acquired by ORPEA in July 2006. Since then I have successively held the positions of CFO, Director of the Business Unit in Spain, CEO & CFO for Spain and finally CEO & CFO of ORPEA for both Spain and Portugal, which is my current role today and has been since April 2018.

Throughout my career at the company I have always had the support and trust of my managers, which is essential for steady career progression.

What are the main difficulties you have encountered in your professional career?

As is the case for many people, the main difficulty is finding the right balance between my professional and private life. Sometimes this has been difficult and stressful.
Is being a woman in your profession an asset, a handicap or neither?

For all these years, I have not once thought that being a woman has left me with fewer opportunities. It never occurred to me that this could happen. My parents always told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be. So it has never been a handicap, or at least I don’t have that impression.

My commitment is to make sure that no one on my team is disadvantaged by being a woman.

What are your personal commitments (if any) to women’s rights?

My commitment is to make sure that no one on my team is disadvantaged by being a woman. Unfortunately, most women still bear more of the family and home burden than men, therefore it is sometimes necessary to be more flexible in specific situations. As a company, we need to support people of value. Decisions should never be made with gender in mind.

What advice would you give to women who read about you for building their career?

Know that you can be what you want to be. Have confidence in your abilities. Your attitude towards what you want is crucial. If you have confidence in yourself, this comes across and prevents others from trying to create a sense of insecurity. I have been fortunate not to feel discriminated against, perhaps that’s because I never thought that I could be discriminated against for the mere fact of being a woman.

How do you see the evolution of society in terms of women’s rights?

We probably all think that the situation is better today than it was 30 years ago. But still, among some young people, girls think that having a boyfriend who wants to control them, by looking at their phone for example, is normal and a sign of love. So there is still a long way to go!

What are your dreams for tomorrow’s world for little girls?

I want all girls to have access to a good education. It is only with access to a good education, and I’m not just talking about schooling, that girls will be able to be what they want to be. They need to know that we are strong and that we can do anything we really want to do. Education is the foundation of everything.