Career lessons with Angela Matthes

Angela Matthes
“I have not always been Angela. Seven years ago, my name was Roger.” This is how Angela Matthes introduced herself at the beginning of the online monthly talk by EY’s Professional Women’s Network with over 50 guests. In her 45 minutes talk, Angela addresses career challenges sharing respective insights.
About Angela’s professional and educational career

RoBe alumna Angela started her career at Baloise at the age of 15 (and a half). After several leadership roles within the Group, for the last 8 years, she was CEO of Baloise Life (Liechtenstein) AG. In 2005, Angela joined the RoBe community as student of our Executive MBA program and in 2015 she received the distinguished alumna award honouring her ongoing support as ambassador. Furthermore, Angela has an Executive Master in Consulting and Coaching for Change from INSEAD.

About Angela’s journey

Going back to 2014: That year marked a milestone in Angela’s biography: She transitioned from Roger to Angela, leaving her male identity behind to live in the gender identity she always felt to be her own. It took courage and was rewarded with a lot of support from her environment. During this morning’s talk she shares the reaction from her Baloise principal: “Thank you for trusting me and Baloise, you will get all the support that you need and you have mine 100%.” She could not have wished for a better answer. She stayed on with Baloise and in her role as CEO for another 7 years and in 2018 she was a founding member of the Baloise LGBTQ-Network “JUMP!” Earlier this year, Angela left Baloise venturing into independence and creating her platform

About Angela’s current company

With, Angela explores the future scenarios of innovation and disruption of the insurance industry. The business development firm also creates a resource for diversity and inclusion as a characteristic property of organizations and societies in a VUCA world to create an open environment. RoBe was delighted to hear that the educational trip to the Silicon Valley also played a part in contributing to Angela’s endeavour establishing her own business development firm : Back from the “Future”…inspired!

About the talk

Angela talked about three important insights that she learned along her professional career and during her personal journey. First, that authenticity is fluid. Second, vulnerability is a superpower. And third, leaping into the unknown is always worth it.

On authenticity, she elaborated, that our authentic self is always changing, adapting and that all of us can have more than one authentic self at all times. We have our work-self, our husband or wife-self, if we have kids, our parent-self, and so on. That we behave differently at work and at home does not mean that we are not always authentic, we just have different roles and different expectations to fulfil in our lives. But our authentic selves also change over time, when we take new jobs, new responsibilities, learn new skills. Think back 10 years! Are you still the exact same person?

Allowing your roles to develop your personality, your authentic self, brought her to the third learning: Leaping into the unknown, leaving your comfort. She had to do this many times and would not be where and who she is today, if she always had waited until she was 100% certain the leap would be safe. The same is true for career steps. If you are looking for a new professional role, do not wait until you tick all the boxes. Where would the growth potential be, if you already knew everything?

Angela ended with vulnerability. She illustrated the value of vulnerability and trust in the work environment during her transition at Baloise. Realising that her change would be a change for her environment, too, and that her colleagues had not had 47 years of getting ready for the moment, she did not want to confront them, but take them on the journey with her. In roughly 150 conversations she opened up to her colleagues, made herself vulnerable, and what she found was not just acceptance and support, but connection as her colleagues opened up themselves and shared personal stories that they usually would not share at work. If we want to create an environment of respect and trust at the workplace, we – as leaders – also need to make ourselves vulnerable. In a diverse and inclusive organisation, it is okay if that boss admits, that there are other people in the company, who might have a better answer to problem than he has.


Upcoming RoBe events with Angela as guest speaker

CAS Leadership and Inclusion for diverse leading (German-speaking CAS)