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Barbara Cestaro's hidden talent
Barbara Cestaro is the Manager of the Credit & Financial Risks division here at GSA. We sat down with Barbara to find out what attracted her to GSA. Barbara also reveals her special hidden talent and the best piece of advice she has ever received.
What attracted you to GSA?
Over the last 6 years, I had been working with GSA as a Trade Credit Underwriter and I had a chance to get to know Scott Curley, Nicole Mellick and Paul Hines. I was invited to the GSA events and mingled with the employees. It has always been clear to me that the culture at GSA was something different than at any other brokerage. Adding to that, the thrill of taking on a new challenge - of managing a division and the mandate of growing it - it was a no brainer for me to accept when Scott offered me the job!
What special talents do you have?
I can hide all the mess in my house in less than 5 minutes when I know my mother in law is visiting. I don’t want to share my secrets, but a big cupboard helps.
What’s been the biggest pinch-me moment of your career?
When I was employed by Atradius Australia, I had to organise to move from Italy to the other side of the world in just a month. I had to pack my entire life into a 30 kilo suitcase. It was a crazy month full of excitement and terror!!! The challenges once I arrived in Australia were numerous, from finding myself with no friends and nobody to talk to for the entire weekend to adjusting to a completely different way of doing business. It would take far too long to tell you how many things I have learnt from this, but for sure this experience made me into a better, more mature person ready to face all challenges!
What’s been the biggest challenge you have faced and how did it help shape who you are today?
My biggest challenge is still ongoing really. I have two kids and my main challenge is taking care of them. I feel so strongly about my responsibility to shape their young minds and make sure they understand what’s really important and what’s not. Being a parent just helps me put everything into perspective.
How do you deal with setbacks, failure and fears?
I like to analyse a lot. In most cases I try to sit down and think about how I got to the point I am at and how I can make a valuable change. Yoga always helps to get in the right head space and have a realistic view on things.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Don’t be afraid to show your real self.
What makes you happy?
Enjoying a meal with my family, all sitting together at the table and talking about our day. I also love playing at the park with my kids and inhaling their happiness 😊.
What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you got there?
Success is when I am happy doing what I am doing, both in my personal and in my professional life.
What are you really good at?
Cooking. I really like it… I hope I am as good as I think I am because my kids make me question my abilities sometimes. I mean, throwing dinner on the floor isn’t exactly flattering feedback, right? ... Below is a cake which Barbara made for her daughter's birthday.
What new projects are you working on at the moment?
My first 4 months at GSA have been very busy - we have been working on implementing a new concept for the Credit & Financial Risks division and new services for our clients. We now have agreements with trusted partners to provide debtors credit assessments (credit reports), domestic & export collections and PPSA registration. These services are not only available to Trade Credit clients but to all GSA clients. We also have a strong focus on not only promoting these additional services but Surety Bonds and Commercial Tenant Default too; we want to make sure GSA clients know their options and that we are here to help every time, if it’s needed.
How did you end up in Trade Credit Insurance?
I was 21 and I had just spent 3 months in the UK to study and work; literally the day after my arrival home my dad gave me the newspaper with the job ads. He was clearly worried I was going to stay at home for too long! I had no idea what this company, Gerling at the time, Atradius later on, did but lucky for me they chose me from many other applicants. Just another example on how people normally stumble into Trade Credit Insurance, it is difficult to get there otherwise!
What drives your passion for Trade Credit Insurance?
Sometimes I find this difficult to believe myself, but I have been in the industry for more than 18 years. I am still here, trying to explain the benefits of one of the most difficult to sell products in the world, exactly because of my passion for it. I strongly believe this product has been sold incorrectly for far too long as an insurance policy, but it isn’t just that; it’s actually an amazing credit management tool which can support a company’s business in so many ways.
If there was anything that you could change in Trade Credit Insurance, what would that be?
Trade Credit Insurance has great potential; I truly believe that in 10-15 years this policy will be as common as commercial motor insurance. What we need to do to get there is to make the policy more accessible to companies; not only pricewise but, most importantly, in terms of policy structure and tailored made policy conditions.
Who inspires you and why?
Jane Goodall (pictured below) is a great inspiration for me. I find it amazing how she managed to dedicate her entire life to her passion (studying chimpanzees) and she turned this passion into her role as an ambassador for a more ethical and environmentally friendly world.