If you’ve ever wondered how billionaires manage their wealth or how a family office operates, this is the show for you.
Ida Beerhalter is the co-head of IOME, a Riyadh-based private investment partnership of women principals from the Gulf region. She also serves as member of the Board of Trustees, advisor, and expert with various for-profit and not-for-profit organizations around the globe, including Astia USA, Omnia Strategy UK, Sauti Kuu Foundation Germany & Kenia, and First Light Trust UK. She also manages her own investment portfolio and is a member of Astia Angels. Beerhalter was awarded the TIAW World of Difference Award in 2015.
In this episode we talked about boards and steps you can take to joining one. We also discussed impact investing and supporting women-owned businesses through angel investing.
We also talked about how billionaires manage their wealth or how a family office operates.
A huge thank you to Naseba and the Global WIL Economic Forum 2017 for making this interview possible.
Read the Transcript
Rana Nawas: (00:00)
Hello again, ladies and gentlemen. I’m delighted to welcome on today’s show a lady I would not normally meet. She helps billionaire’s manage their financial and emotional wealth. Ida Beerhalter has IOME, a family office for wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia. Ida also serves on numerous boards for for profit and not for profit organizations around the world. She has a wide range of interests and specializations such as wealth management, family governance, succession planning, impact investing, and women empowerment. If you’ve ever wondered how billionaire’s manage their wealth or how a family office operates, this is the show for you. We also spend time talking about boards and steps you can take to joining one. In addition, we discussed two topics that Ida is passionate about, impact investing and supporting women on businesses through angel investing at Astia. So let’s get into it. So, Ida, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us on When Women Win.
Ida Beerhalter: (01:11)
Pleasure being here. Thank you for inviting me.
Rana Nawas: (01:14)
Now I’ll be honest, I did read your bio. I did the research and I still haven’t got a clue as to what it is you do or what IOME does. So would you mind laying that out for me and our listeners?
Ida Beerhalter: (01:25)
Yes. So IOMI is an, you call it the family office. A family office is something, for the listeners who do not know, if you’re very wealthy, you hire people who either help you manage your wealth, inform knowledge and some control over your wealth or somebody who does it for you, if you have no clue how to manage your wealth. So this is a, this is a family office and IOMI is, has been founded by [inaudible] in the golf, so wealthy women who want to learn to manage their wealth. So this is the core of IOMI is that I’m not there to manage wealth and make them dependent on me. I’m there to make them independent for me by giving them all my knowledge, all my network, to enable them to either manage the wealth themselves, so kind of I call it flying solo, giving them the wings, or if they for some reasons cannot do that so because maybe they are older, they are illiterate, they do not have the qualification or maybe not the confidence, then I set them up with their own family office but in a structure with people of the integrity and the knowledge so that they can feel safe and I’m confident that this people I hire for them, for their family office, won’t take advantage of them. So I put measurements in control so they should control and IOMI’s about making them control their wealth and then also to find a meaning in their life. Because your goal in life cannot be that you die and on your gravestone is written, she died as a billionaire. If this is what your life is about, then I’ll always tell them, I’m not working with you. I do not waste my lifetime with you if this is what you want but if you control your wealth and then you start thinking about that wealth is also an obligation and especially if you have inherited the wealth. This is not an achievement. This is something you have to prove that you are worth to have inherited this wealth and by showing that you are worth it, you have to impact people’s lives positively in whatever you do and the choices, what you do and how the positive impact is and how many people you positively impact. This is up to you, but if you have a billion, you can impact a lot of lives positively and when you look back on your life at one point, then you can say, you know, I have left some legacy behind and not just the tombstone with she died as a billionaire and she had 500 Gucci bags. So we changed not just control, but also attitude towards yourself and by changing this attitude, you also attract other people. People who inspire you, spiritual people and people will give you something back. By just buying Gucci bags, this is the wrong people you attract. You do not build your meaning of life. So having a meaningful life and being meaningful for others, this is actually the thing, what drives me to do that because money managing is super boring, it’s super boring, it’s really nothing new.
Rana Nawas: (04:08)
But isn’t that what they hire you for? I mean, well first of all let’s ask, because I’m not in the circles of royalty and billionaires so, what’s the threshold where it makes sense to have a family office?
Ida Beerhalter: (04:18)
So normally you say above $300 million in assets. Some people say 500 million assets. Then it makes sense because you need to obviously to pay people and if you are 100 millionaire you can make a multifamily office, but on the other hand, if you want to learn how to manage your money, then it is an investment and then I would really say, you know, you can, if you have $5 million, hire somebody to teach you for two/three years for 300,000 bucks per year, it’s worth the effort if you want to control it. It really depends what you want.
Rana Nawas: (04:51)
And you were talking earlier that the people who hire you, they hire you primarily to manage their wealth, but then you’re talking about legacy and impacting positively. What do you mean by that? Like doing what? So if I have a billion one day and I call you, Ida, what are you going to do with my money that makes it so that I leave a legacy behind?
Ida Beerhalter: (05:12)
I’m not working with them to manage their money. I help them to, from the beginning to manage the money and understand the assets themselves. So how it works is when I start working with them, I review the assets with them and then we talk about what they have and my current principles have all inherited their money so they haven’t kind of created the wealth. It’s like inherited by default. So the assets are not something they made a conscious decision about. This was really dropped in their lap and somebody bought it like public stocks. So and then we look if you have public stocks and you say you have 200 shares in the public telecommunication company and then they tell me, oh this is worth $12 a share because I see the share price and then I tell them no, it’s worth $3 share because you cannot sell 200 million shares and there’s a saying in the office actually where everybody laughs about and the people in my network, they say are you still a billionaire or has Ida done a reevaluation of your assets and this is really how it works. A lot of people overestimate the assets. Just because you buy a watch for 50,000 bucks, that doesn’t mean that you have acquired a value of 50,000 bucks because if you resell the watch, the real value of this watch is very likely around 5,000. That’s it. If you buy jewelry from Cartier, we might pay 100,000 for that. But if you want to sell it, it’s just the ounces of the gold and the carrots carved. That’s it. It’s minus 50 percent. If it’s not a collecting piece like something which is very rare, there’s no difference. So a lot of people overestimate what they have.
Rana Nawas: (06:47)
Now we’re talking about the world of over 300, $500,000,000. Do you have any crazy stories about a client lifestyle or expectation? For example, have you ever been asked to do a meeting in a crazy place or at a crazy time or anything like that?
Ida Beerhalter: (07:03)
I’ve been in crazy amazing places like sometimes I’ll go into palaces in a size where you really think the energy in this thing is so bad, that I’m always happy to get out of it because a lot of people do not see when they they live in this grand things, they never step back and look, what energy does it give me, the place. Is it’s really good to live here or is it just to show other people that I’m somebody and, but the nicest story I have with really wealthy people is I had a principal I worked with for my family office and every time we went to an official meeting, he and he is a super billionaire. He always had one jacket and he always kind of appreciated it if I kind of realized that he had changed the leather patches on the elbows of the jacket and this is what real wealth is about. He was dressed appropriately but he didn’t care about the kind of shows of being wealthy. He went to meetings and a lot of people didn’t take him seriously and this is what I really liked because he was never bragging about wealth and real wealthy people, meaning not just wealthy and money, but also wealthy in emotional intelligence. This is the real wealth counts. They would never brag about money. They would never show off. They do not need that. The people who are really poor in all sense except having a billion and other ones who need to show off to everybody that they are somebody. This are actually the most craziest thing was the guy with the leather patches and I still have contact with him and I still go back and he lives in a small village and he has a lot of super fancy cars because he loves cars but when he goes to his village, he goes in a very battered up old car. He lives in a modest house and then if he wants to enjoy himself, he goes with battered car to a shed in the middle of nowhere, with an air condition where you have cars and then he picks one of the cars and then he goes off, enjoys his time, drops back the car, but he doesn’t poison his ecosystem at home by going home with this fancy car because he wants to live in the village and wants people to treat him as somebody who grew up in the village.
Rana Nawas: (09:13)
No, I love that story and that’s actually my husband’s dream life. He wants to live in the country and have 100 fast cars. That’s his dream, I promise you. Great. Now you mentioned the word principal. Is that what you call your clients and how is IOMI structured today? You have more than one principle, I think, right?
Ida Beerhalter: (09:32)
So a principal in the family office, principal is the person who owns the wealth. There’s the wealth owner and this is kind of, you can call it the shareholder. So this is the definition of principals and I have five principals and as I said at the beginning, IOMI is a kind of a wealth management school. So I have five students, you can say, who own actually their wealth and I try to bring them as fast as possible to a position that they can tell me either I do not need you any longer, I have hijacked your network, I can do it on my own and this is because money calls the shots and the reason I’m doing it is I want a women to control their wealth and then do the right thing with their wealth. Because if a very wealthy woman goes to her bank and says, you know what, if you invest my money, you better invest in companies who care about gender diversity, then you have an impact. If you have a billion, the banker would definitely listen. Then the banker goes down and will say to his other asset managers, you know what, we need to look at companies with gender diversity because my billionaire clients are asking that they want to have a focus on that. This moves mountains, this moves mountains. Money is calling the shots and they have the money, but they do not call the shots because they give their money to the bankers which are male and they don’t care. They only care about their fees.
Rana Nawas: (10:46)
So your principals now are mostly women?
Ida Beerhalter: (10:50)
Only women, we are totally discriminating. The only exception I do but it costs sometimes if you have the [inaudible] principal and I had had [inaudible] principal. She has now her own family office. So her air was her son. So she was illiterate and I said, you know, we need a person you trust in your family office and it was actually her son and her son was a very integral person. So I had to train the male, so I couldn’t kind of say, oh, you just happened to have a son. I kick you out of the office, I cannot of help you. But again, then to the son you had the influence. You could, you could really open his eyes to the gender diversity issue and making them aware of just by telling him, you know what, your mother is illiterate because at her time then nobody cared about education for your mother, what do you do with your daughter? And then he was saying, oh wow, you’re right. Nobody cared then and I can now because nobody cared about my mother. So just by pointing this out to him, making him aware of it, he becomes an advocate for women. You know, he’s a son of a woman and he’s a father of a very bright girl. So he is one of the advocates out there. That’s it.
Rana Nawas: (11:57)
And that’s what we need. We need male allies and champions for change.
Ida Beerhalter: (12:00)
Rana Nawas: (12:00)
And is that how they persuaded you to go to Riyad? Was this thing, like come and help us make change?
Ida Beerhalter: (12:09)
We had family office happen by coincidence. So I did a talk for Astia. So I’m on the board of Astia, which is a women entrepreneurship organization in London and after this talk somebody approached me and we ended up that I went to Riyadh and met a group of woman and we had a lot of nice meetings. We talked about families, values, art, what you talk about and I think it was really like at the third meeting I was really asking them so why, and I used an expletive, I’m here? And they answered and said, we don’t really know. We only can tell you our problem and I said, so what is your problem? They said, Ida, either we have a husband, father, guardian, or brother, who’s good to us and is a bad manager of money or the other way around. Both options suck for us and my answer was to them, if this are your options, the only solution I see is you have to learn to do it yourself and then they said, okay, but you then need to teach us and I was like saying, oh yeah, I can do that and then they asked me, so how do we do that? I said, I have no clue. Maybe we do an educational family office and they said, that sounds good and actually this was how it happened and then I called in this evening my husband and I said, so I now do know what I’m doing in Saudi and he said, oh, so somebody had a plan. I said, no, not a plan. We just did it over at tea. An educational family office. My husband said, so what does an educational family office? I said, I do not know. We’ll figure it out along the way. So it was like, this is actually how it happened. There was no big plan, there was just a problem and my kind of first shot as a solution and we actually wrote the rules as we went. It was like, like that.
Rana Nawas: (13:45)
So the problem you were trying to address with the Saudi Arabian women in Riyadh wanting to have financial acumen and independence?
Ida Beerhalter: (13:52)
Yes and for two reasons. For one reason that they didn’t trust their male.
Rana Nawas: (14:00)
Ida Beerhalter: (14:00)
and not because this guardian was kind of with a bad intention, but they didn’t trust their financial literacy. Their skills and also their commitment to look after their money. They were busy, the men were looking after their money. If they then had time, they looked after the sisters, whatever money or the other way around that they just had no trust in their relationship to them and were afraid that something was happening with their money which was not what they wanted. Yeah, they just wanted to have control. That is, that was the intention.
Rana Nawas: (14:30)
Well, we’re all for women taking control of their wealth, right? And every level, not just at the billionaire level.
Ida Beerhalter: (14:36)
I need to, I want to point out, wealthy people need to take control of their wealth regardless of men or women and what I’m doing applies same for men and women and when it comes to financial literacy, do not limit it to Saudi. I see so much financial illiteracy globally in men and woman. It’s a global problem of wealthy people. Some don’t care. They say, oh, I have so much money and my advisor is doing it and I’m busy and spending the money at the zoo or whatever. They are just users of the money. Some of them take care about the money. Some just run after the next percentage in gains. Like say I invest in everything, as long as nobody catches me and I get my money, I double my money, I do everything and some say I only invest in impact and positive impact and this is a rising tide. I only invest money in positive impact, which I really, really like and love because it takes away all this people just running after the next dollar regardless how much damage they are doing.
Rana Nawas: (15:41)
And I think for for sure you’re talking about wealthy people, men and women who need to manage their wealth, but certainly for women, everyday women, need to also take control of their wealth simply because a lot of relationships end either in divorce or 90 percent of the cases, women outlive their husbands. So at some point a woman is taking care of herself financially and this is a real problem we see with everyday women. Like corporate women, entrepreneurs, stay at home moms, not having the basic tools even to manage their own wealth. That’s not a conversation for you, Ida.
Ida Beerhalter: (16:14)
Just as a remark and it’s very good remark and it doesn’t mean how much money you have. You have to manage what you have and you have to really think throgh it and you cannot live beyond your means. In no regards of wealth, you have be it emotional wealth or be it social wealth. You can never live beyond your means. You have to know your limitations and you have to actually embrace your limitations. You cannot spend your life being unhappy for not being as much as Mr Buffett and dreaming about being rich. That doesn’t mean not to have ambitions to create more wealth by saving money, by investing money, by doing this kind in your limitations.
Rana Nawas: (16:55)
In your sphere of influence.
Ida Beerhalter: (16:56)
Yeah. Yeah. You have to do that. Okay.
Rana Nawas: (16:58)
Well, let’s shift gears a bit and talk about succession planning because I believe you help family businesses look at that. Now that must be an awkward conversation with any patriarch. How do you go about it and is it different if they have no children? I mean, what do you do with they have no children and what do you do if they have many children?
Ida Beerhalter: (17:18)
It’s always a very emotional discussion and interesting when it comes to money, a lot of people get very emotional, more emotional sometimes when it comes to their children, which is interesting. So succession planning is always that you need to discuss with the person that at one point, whatever they do, whatever trust fund, whatever they set up, they will lose control when they die, period. So this is a given thing. It’s a totally illusion to think that you can, you know, continue to control out of the grave. Because if you set up a trust fund, you set people into this trust fund and you talk with them, give them rules, whatever. People are people, they will find the loopholes. So first and foremost, you have to accept that you give up control and then you need to decide who you give the money and you need to look at the people you give the money. If you have no heirs, you must make sure that the money is used until you are die for your purpose and that means you need also safeguard when you become kind of dement and you will be the last person to know that your are dement. You know, dement. You know, dementia.
Rana Nawas: (18:28)
Ida Beerhalter: (18:28)
So a lot of people think, oh, as long as I live, I control my money. No, you can have a stroke tomorrow. You have to prepare for contingencies. If you have money or no money. You have to prepare for contingencies from the beginning. You have to think it from the end and not from the beginning. So if you have children, you need to understand that the second you are dying, the dynamics in the family change because you are as the wealth owner, you are a certain domino piece. The second you fall, the whole game falls and it has to be set up again and that the question is, can the person you leave behind and the structure you leave behind, how are they structured? How are they wired as persons? Will they care about your company, your legacy, or will they just care about to get the biggest chunk and most of the control they can get out of it? So you have to really to sit down and try to understand who is this person I give the money to? Is this person able to handle the money? Sometimes if you give your children the money, you can make them totally unhappy. Some people, if you give them money, go off the rails. They get unhappy, they attract the wrong people, so you have to prepare from all sides and you have to really to accept that you give up control when you die, that’s it. You do not longer have influence. You can make five kilograms of contracts and papers. You lose the control of your wealth because you are done. Somebody else takes over. Many times in succession planning, another mistake a lot of people do when they have children, they try to force the family to stay together by the wealth and if wealth is the only connecting tissue in a family, just forget it. Just forget it. It will not work.
Rana Nawas: (20:13)
Great. So, Ida, can we talk a little bit about family businesses in the Gulf, in particular boards. So I want to reign this in to practical tips for our listeners. Now I know a lot of people who tried to join boards in the Gulf and I’ve have had a really hard time of it because the family businesses typically don’t like anyone outside their inner circle of trust. So they have friends and cousins on their boards. No nonexecutive directors or not no, but possibly few and what’s your view on that? What’s your experience with that?
Ida Beerhalter: (20:45)
A lot the boards I see are dysfunctional and board needs one thing that they need to be all on the board because they care about the task they have. Like the company, the NGO. You cannot go on a board like saying, oh, I got on the board and then I can put it on my CV and looks good. This is not the right intention. The other thing with the board and especially with family owned businesses is if they, and without meaning any bad intent, I always call it if they marinate in their own sauce. This doesn’t bring a company forward because they, you hire your cousin, your hire your people you trust. You need to learn to trust other people if you have a family business and by that you need to build up a network and get out there and meet other people because you need a company to grow as every other system to grow. You need a kind of fertilizer and if you just kind of marinate what I said in your own sauce, you never get another spice into there too. You never will be different. You never will be able to grow and you do not get a lot of input because if you have other people on the board who have another life, maybe live in another country, have other input into the board meetings and have another attitude and also people who are outsiders bring another level of governance. Meaning they relate to facts much more and they really ask accountability. A lot of the family business do not have accountabilities. You are a CEO because you are the son of the founder. This is not an achievement. This is lucky sperm. This is as it is. So if you are the son of the founder, you couldn’t be a good CEO. I do not say that if the founder kind of has raised you in a way that you can manage people because a good CEO manages people. That you are a people manager, you need to manage people and emotions, not the figures. For that ou have a CFO and the CFO brings the figures for you on one page. You do not need to have any really good knowledge of mathematics to be a good ceo. A good CEO is a very good people manager and is out there and brings in information, is an information collector. So a board is a kind of a tool you need to use and if you do not sharpen this tool then it’s totally ineffective and then you can say, I’m sitting on the board with my cousin and my brother but sometimes if you are related to somebody you do not look as harsh on this people as you would do with people you are not related to and sometimes you miss their true personality. So it’s always good to have somebody else telling you, you know what, your cousin, you like him, you grew up with him, but actually he’s an idiot and you need to know that and then sometimes we do not see it the forest because you’re just in front of the tree. You need to have somebody to pull you back and say, you know what, he’s not the best person. He might do it with the best intentions, but best intentions is not best of results.
Rana Nawas: (23:50)
Yeah, because it doesn’t mean best skill set. So how do we fix that because is that the reality just in the Gulf or is that all over the world?
Ida Beerhalter: (23:56)
It’s all over the world.
Rana Nawas: (23:57)
It’s all over the world and how do we fix it?
Ida Beerhalter: (24:00)
It must be fixed from within. So you have a German saying that you say the fish always stinks from the head. So if there’s not somebody in the board have a certain distance to himself, like yes, I am the chair of the board, but I also look in the mirror and I see myself so am I really the best person or should I step back and recommend a better person to bring this to a new level and and to restructure a board is also an emotional fight. You need to sit down with people and people on boards often have a big ego and tell those people for them, that reason, I do not think that the board is still good enough. So we need to grow, we need to change. People do not like to hear that and maybe you need to sit down with people and say, you know what, you are not the right board member any longer. You have made your contribution and we need to look for another board member and this, a lot of people shy away from candid discussions or candid conversations. For me, and this might sound gender discriminating, a lot of men shy away from conflict conversations and as a lot of boards are men driven, bring in a woman. You have to see the situation and first you have to face the problem and then you have to go and look out for solutions and the boards are so crucial because they are so responsible for so many jobs that they have an obligation.
Rana Nawas: (25:21)
And also they have a legal obligation. I mean, now even in Saudi Arabia they’re jailing people for negligence of board members. So what I’m hearing you say then, Ida, is that it starts with the chair of the board.
Ida Beerhalter: (25:34)
It starts with a chair of the board or with the champion and the board. So somebody needs to say, you know what, what we do is, are we really good enough, are we doing it for the right intention and why are we hiring this person? You know, do you hire somebody because this person has a good name? So you see that a lot of the NGOs, you know, I call them marketing boards and I, for example, shy away from marketing boards. I do not need to sit with people who are famous but like why would I. It doesn’t add any thing to my life, anything positive. I want to sit with people who are inspirational and awesome. Not Perfect, awesome, awesome people. I’m not perfect. I try to be awesome, not perfect. This is what you want on the board. They can have big names and it helps sometimes but if they only bring a big name to the table, it’s by far not good enough.
Rana Nawas: (26:20)
Well, what advice would you give sort of women with 20 years experience who’d like to get on a board? How do you go about that?
Ida Beerhalter: (26:29)
People must know that you are out there. So for example, if you would like to go on an NGO board, a good thing is always to go to an NGO or to a non for profit who does something you really care about. The right intention is that the company and the board is something involved which you care about. Just to be on the board is not the right motivation saying, oh I have 25 years of experience and now I need to have a board seat on my CV. No, that’s also the wrong thing to do. For example, if there is a non for profit, you know, breast cancer, you know, you might have breast cancer or your mother might have breast cancer. Go there, make a contribution. Now open for the boards, go to this organization and say, you know what, you want to grow, I can give you access to x, y, z. You will do a fundraiser. I can organize the wine, the cookies, whatever, you know, just show them that you make a contribution and that doesn’t mean that you change the world. Just the contribution could be small. You could have the one phone number who changes the whole game for this non for profit. It’s just this one phone number or this one person and then people will see when you make a contribution, you really engaged and then they might ask you and say, you know what, you bring that much contribution. Could you come on our board? And all boards I’m sitting, this was the way it went. You know, I never met them and saying, oh, I want to be on this board. You know, this Astia came to me and said we want to have a better representation in Europe and I just opened my network for them. You know, I just kind of, some kind of drawn them into introductions and had conversations and at one point I said, oh, could you join the board? I was really, when they asked me I was like, oh, do I have the time for that? I was really like saying and always my question is when people come to me and ask me, do you want to come on our board? I always ask them, why do you want me? And I had one situation when it comes to women, a quite prominent company from Germany came to me and said, we want you to be on this board. And I said, so why are you asking me? They said, oh, you know, you heard about this quota. We need more women on board and my answer was to him, you know what, if you need decoration, buy a bunch of flowers. You need to always to ask why and do not chase the board seats. Be present. Let people get to know you. Do talks, go onstage, make contributions. Just talk to people. If you go to people and say, I want to be on boards. The answer will never be saying, oh, we were waiting for you. It will not happen.
Rana Nawas: (28:51)
I mean, I hear you. So I think what you’re saying is be visible and demonstrate value.
Ida Beerhalter: (28:57)
And the other thing is we have a kind of an very secret circle. We call it steer up and very vigorous, have a kind of commitment that once a year we have a call and the promise is that you help another woman on the board, not yourself. You help somebody else on board. This is what brings you on board. Bring somebody else on board and then the promises, if I would bring somebody on board, the payback would be that this woman or this man brings another person on board and by that you build a board network.
Rana Nawas: (29:34)
Love it, so that exists like a secret society.
Ida Beerhalter: (29:37)
It’s a steer up. It’s really, the second r in the brackets, so steer up like steel with a horse, you know, going to settle, but it’s also to steer it up.
Rana Nawas: (29:46)
Got It. So it’s like a limit. Okay. Well you mentioned the impact investing earlier and you said it’s on the rise, can you tell us a little bit more about that? What does it mean and how do you go about impact investing?
Ida Beerhalter: (29:59)
So for me, it’s every time you invest big money, time or reputation, it’s an investment and I never distinguish in between philanthropy and investment because whenever you put money in, the only question is what is your expectation on return. So obviously when you do philanthropy, your expectation on return, on monetary return is zero. But the impact return, you know, you will say, I want to do a disaster relief. I want that 500 people flooded all of their homes have food for the next five weeks, whatever. This is the reason, the famous KPIs applied to everything.
Rana Nawas: (30:35)
What you do in terms of investment?
Ida Beerhalter: (30:37)
So impact investment is the only thing that people consciously decide now that they want to think about, what happens, what effect their money has. So that has positive impact investing and I think for me it’s more that people get more and more and aware that if they invest something happens with their money and this should be positive for the environment socially and for people. So impact investing for me is it has been always there, especially in the family businesses because family businesses like impact investment. I think a lot of the corporates, the hedge funds, whatever, you know, the poor money people, they need to consciously think more about impact and not just about the next point they can make. A lot of your work has been also on gender inclusiveness, right?
Rana Nawas: (31:29)
Ida, you’re on the board of Astia. Could you tell us more about that and what exactly do you do to empower women?
Ida Beerhalter: (31:36)
So first and foremost, we are not so keen on the general label. We just want to have the right people and this was the reason we are mixed. So we are 50 men, 50 percent women in the ecosystem.Astia is not a woman’s organization. We are not feminists. That is what we always stress. We believe in if you bring the right people to the table, regardless of their gender and regardless of their color and nationality and whatever, it does not matter. It’s just the right people with the right intention in the right room at the right time makes the difference. So, and this is what Australia is doing.
Rana Nawas: (32:14)
What’s the objective of Astia, to achieve what?
Ida Beerhalter: (32:17)
So we have a small gentleman, so we support companies with access to capital, access to mentorship, access to network, but this company’s needs to have at least one woman founder and you can have 50 men in the founding team if you do not have this one woman, we are not interested and we wont create by that. We want to encourage more women to found companies. We want to encourage more people to invest in women led companies and by that we create women leaders and be creative. Also an ecosystem who aware of that inclusive teams are much better than then sole female teams and sole male teams. So we always say, oh maybe it’s one of my sayings that I say, you know, an invitation is you’ve invited to a party. Inclusiveness is the venue allowed to dance. So we want everybody to dance and everybody to make the choice. If he or she wants to dance, this is, we want to give opportunities. There’s one of my colleagues said there’s an equal spread of talents or there’s not an equal spread of opportunities. So all our presidents that you count and I think this is, we want to have equal opportunities and then the effect will take care of itself.
Rana Nawas: (33:29)
And this is mostly focused or exclusively focused on entrepreneurs. If you’re looking at the c suite in the corporate world and you have one ask of the CEO, what would it be?
Ida Beerhalter: (33:41)
To further this agenda of inclusiveness? It’s always good to put yourself in somebody’s shoes and for that listen, you don’t really sit down with the women in your team and your company and try to understand the situation and tried to put yourself in this person’s shoes because nobody who has been kind of put down because of her gender or his gender or sometimes can understand how it feels and my father always said a person will never has been hungry will never understand a hungry person. So you have to go out there and be hungry. So I would really ask every CEO, put yourself in the shoes or let this woman just for the sake of a game, reverse the situation and treat you like she is treated just for one day. Like, you know, look at her up and down and say, oh, make the coffee, do not ask her, you know, what? She can just let yourself be treated. Just experience it because then you know how it is and then you, you know much better how to change it.
Rana Nawas: (34:42)
Yeah. A day in the life.
Ida Beerhalter: (34:44)
A day in the life.
Rana Nawas: (34:45)
Build your empathy.
Ida Beerhalter: (34:45)
Rana Nawas: (34:46)
Great. Thank you. So my last question is really about your education, actually. You manage the wealth of billionaires and yet you never went to university. So how did that happen? How did you never go to college and how did you manage to get all these really wealthy people to trust you and to get past that checkbox exercise?
Ida Beerhalter: (35:09)
You need to have the skills at the moment you need them. So either you have them or you need to have the ability to acquire them as fast as possible from the best persons and this is for me, I always say I was my university is called life. I have always good teachers. I had all these people around me who saw more in me than I ever imagined and it’s your whole career you never get a job because you believe that you can do it. The people who hire you believe that you can do it and when it comes to money management, first of all, most, and this was the same of one of my principals. At one point, the person came to one of my principals and said, you know what? I researched your CIO. She never went to university. She doesn’t have a clue and she decided against the investment we proposed to her and by that you will lose money. So, you know, she’s incapable and then the answer of this wealth on our principals to him said, you know what? I have not hired her because she’s capable. I hired her because she has integrity and character and this is the main asset. The rest you can hire for a penny. You cannot buy integrity and loyalty and character and this is what I look when I hire people. This is exactly what I look for. If you have a real intelligence, you can learn things. Do not overrate formal education. You need to have education, but not formal education and I have education, but I do not have an certificate about it and my certificate are the people who trust me. This is a much better certificate than any harvard, Stanford, whatever.
Rana Nawas: (36:44)
That’s wonderful, Ida. Thank you so much for your valuable time. I’ve really, really enjoyed this. Thank you.
Ida Beerhalter: (36:48)
Pleasure. Thank you.
Rana Nawas: (36:50)
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. You can check out show notes and more episodes at RanaNawas.com/win or search When Women Win on Itunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. I’d also love to hear your feedback and ideas for who I should bring on the show. You can find me on instagram @RanaNawas. Thanks and have a great day.