For VAPF Group’s 55th anniversary, we are turning the spotlight onto some of the most important members of our team. Today, we’re starting with Mónica Ribes, someone who has worked with us and shared an enthusiasm for VAPF Group for over 40 years.
How did your story with VAPF begin? What was your first job?
They recruited my father to work in one of the Group’s companies, and at the same time I started working in the accounting department. My first job was to file dispatch notes to check the supplier invoices before recording them.
You had to balance your work with your studies, was it difficult?
Yes, I worked all day and when I finished I used to go to an academy to study a type of vocational training. I was 16 and spent 3 years working and studying at the same time. It was a difficult period of time, but I was young and I simply had to do it, and I liked it.
What jobs have you had in VAPF Group? Which was your favourite?
With VAPF I have spent time in every department apart from sales. I worked for the longest in the accounting department and after that I moved to the administration department. In 1977, Mr. Soliveres called me to go to administration to work as a secretary, as well as manage clients and agents. I have always loved all the jobs I have had.
I imagine that after so many years you have experienced many good and bad moments in the company. Which stand out?
The worst moment was in 2016 when my two beloved bosses passed away within a month of each other. I still get emotional talking about it because I spent such a long time with them and they’ll always be in my heart.
The best moment was at Christmas in 2007 when they gave me a cruise around the Mediterranean for two people as an acknowledgement of the 35 years I had worked in the company. I was also lucky enough to share the experience with my husband, of course, and with the general works manager, Francisco Argudo, who was celebrating his 40th anniversary in the company, and his wife. We had a fantastic time and it was wonderful.
As the years went by, you started your own family. What was it like balancing work with family life?
It involved lots of juggling, the same as for everyone who worked. In those days I was lucky enough to have the help of my mother, who used to look after my daughter while I was at work. Although I have always been the type of person who tries to manage everything at the same time.
Would you say there was a turning point for you in the company?
Yes, when I joined the administration department and began to work for Mr. Soliveres and Mr. Polo, then with his son Pedro, and later on with his other son Bernardo.
What’s the best thing about working for VAPF Group? What has it offered you on a personal level?
The best thing about working with VAPF Group is the stability and the closeness, both physically, and in my relationship with my bosses. On a personal level, my job has allowed me to develop and grow personally.
VAPF Group hands out prizes for every decade that is spent working in the company. What is it like to receive this recognition?
When you have worked in the company for 10 years, VAPF awards you with a 5-day holiday, and after 20 years, a 7-day cruise. As I have already told you, after 35 years I was given a cruise for two people which was an incredible experience. After 40 years, they gave me a tour of Norway for two people which I was really excited about because I had always wanted to go, and I loved it. In addition, we go on all these trips outside of the normal holiday period.
What are you most proud of after so many years of work?
I am proud of the work I have done, all the training I have received, the colleagues I have had, and the success of the company.
Could you tell us any interesting stories from your day-to-day life in the company?
When I turned 60, my colleagues at VAPF Group threw me a surprise birthday party in the office. I arrived at 9:00am in the morning and everything was decorated with balloons and a banner, and they also made me a birthday crown. It was very emotional, especially when the founder of the company came to see me specifically and sang Happy Birthday.
What offices did you work in when you started at VAPF Group? How have they changed over the years?
VAPF’s offices have always been in the same building, a block of 6 floors which are all company offices. When I started, it was a new building with beautiful furniture. To be honest, we have always been lucky enough to work in a nice place. The years went by, and in 2012 they refurbished two whole floors. The result is some stunning offices with even more light than before. They are open-plan with glass walls, and are very modern. And now they are going to continue refurbishing the other floors.
What do you like the most about the Cumbre del Sol Residential Resort?
What I most like about Cumbre del Sol is that it’s a combination of mountains and beaches, and it also has an international school and some excellent services. There are no poles because all the electricity cables are underground, which was a problem for Mr. Soliveres but he solved it and the result is fantastic. The resort has beautiful views, and all the houses are incredible, not to mention the luxury properties. They have a very good finish and very good materials, and I really like them. All the houses have large windows and big terraces. The beach at Cumbre del Sol is stunning and it has a Blue Flag – I say no more.
When I was younger, I used to go to Cumbre del Sol very often. Sometimes we would finish work and go to eat, to the beach, I would swim in the nearby cave… Whenever I have been there it’s been to have a good time, and it has always been wonderful.
Which is your favourite house or favourite project that VAPF Group has done?
I have several favourite houses: 118 Olivos, 37 Jazmines, 13 and 14 Lirios, and 125 and 126 Magnolias. I really like them because the standard to which they have been finished is fantastic, and I think they are beautiful homes. Right now, we are working on the Blue Infinity development, which has amazing views.
Since this year is VAPF Group’s 55th anniversary, what would you say is their greatest achievement?
Staying up to date and knowing how to adapt to the current times, and emerging stronger than before from the different financial crises.
What is your current job in the company?
As in February I was given partial retirement, I stopped working full time in the administration department. Now I only work 10 hours a week, and I support and train new employees.
Do you think you will miss the company when you retire, after so many years?
Of course, because it’s been so many years I have a very good relationship both with my colleagues and with my bosses. I will stay in touch, of course, and I will attend the lunches which are organised for anniversaries, I don’t want to miss out!
How do you see VAPF’s future?
Pedro and Bernardo Soliveres, Mr. Soliveres’ sons, now run the Group, and I have always thought that Mr. Soliveres was very lucky to have them because they have wanted to continue his legacy and they have improved it too. I know this because Mr. Soliveres used to tell me himself that he was very proud of them, and honestly, he had reason to be. With managers like these, I can only say that VAPF Group has a success-filled future ahead of them.