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Anita Winter is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors and a graduate of the Women Back to Business programme. The WBB programme was pure inspiration for her and an incomparable support in her realization of a personal dream.
Where do you stand right now professionally and personally?
I am president of the Gamaraal Foundation, which I founded in 2014. The foundation supports survivors of the Schoah who are in need and engages in the area of Holocaust education. Besides this, I am a representative of the largest international Jewish human rights organization, and as such, I have an accreditation with the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and speak there regularly. I am married and have four grown children.
How did the idea come about to launch the Gamaraal Foundation? You were previously a successful business woman in the fashion industry.
That requires a bit of explanation. I began my studies in Business Administration in Zurich and founded my own company shortly thereafter. I designed and sold clothing lines for women across Europe under the label of Anita S. Besides that, I was also very successful as a professional representative for Walt Disney Babywear and other labels. After our fourth child was born, I realized that I was either a bad mother or a bad business woman, or that I needed to put my children in daycare, which I did not want to do. So I decided to reduce my prospering business in order to have more time with my children. But I was firmly resolved to pick things back up after a few years and continue to grow my business in the fashion industry. Looking back, this was a huge miscalculation. When my youngest daughter was about ten years old and the time came for me to relaunch my career, I realized that the fashion business had changed dramatically. It would have been nearly impossible to pick up where I had left off ten years earlier.
This experience resulted in your wish to take on a new professional challenge, did it not?
Not necessarily. It was always my desire to go back to university again, most preferably Harvard. But since proximity to the family was important to me, I began looking around Switzerland and came upon the WBB programme, which instantly fascinated and inspired me.
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Was there a particularly difficult situation for you on the path to repositioning yourself professionally?
As the foundation flourished, particularly with the successful exhibit «The Last Swiss Holocaust Survivors», the responsibility I was carrying soon became very great. I had to find ways to manage this and not let myself be paralyzed by the level of responsibility.
When you look back on the process of your new career launch, what was the most important thing for you?
The most important thing was undoubtedly the WBB programme, which gave me the courage and self-confidence I needed to make decisions, even unconventional ones. I learned to set priorities and to understand how important resilience is in one’s professional and private life.
The second main point is: The Gamaraal Foundation is a project of the heart for me, but it was also important for me to show my children how central education and dedication are in life. For me, education is not just about transmitting knowledge, but also about developing the heart. My grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, told me little of his traumatic experiences in the Schoah, because he wanted to protect me. However, one sentence has stayed with me: “Listen, my darling”, he said to me as a child, “the Nazis took everything from me during the war – my parents, all my siblings, my entire wealth, my dignity, and even my name. You can lose everything in this life, except your education.”
More stories of successful women can be found in our magazine.