Laetitia Mikail: Legal advisor, Moores Rowland, Qualified member of Monaco's CSA and Director of JCEM's Business Network Events
ML: You are born in Monaco and grew up here. What are some of your fondest memories as a kid and did Monaco seem like a regular place to you?
So many! Where to start … Going to the beach every day in the summer, playing in the Princess Antoinette park, attending football games, riding my bike on the Larvotto esplanade, the Fun Fair in November, etc.
One of my fondest memories is the celebration of the Grimaldi dynasty’s 700 years of reign in 1997. I was 13 years old at the time and 700 school children from Monaco participated in the memorable (though rainy!) celebration on Port Hercule.
Of course, it felt like a regular place to me. I genuinely had the simplest of childhoods. My brother and I would ride the bus to school, my parents worked, I had extra-curricular activities on Wednesday afternoons – tennis, dance, gymnastics, music – nothing special.
However, I realised how unique (and clean) it is when I travelled abroad during school holidays. I believe that safety and security in Monaco is often taken for granted by us locals, and it is key to get out to realise how lucky and privileged we are.
ML: You must know everybody. In a country of 38,000, does it ever feel small and would you say Monaco has divided social communities?
Maybe not everybody but I do certainly know a few! Often, you find yourself doing “la bise
” to a number of people even when you just step out to buy milk! It sometimes does feel a little small but when it does, a weekend away does the trick.
I do agree that there are various social groups but these groups interact with each other due to the size of Monaco and the various events that take place in different areas (culture, sports, theatre, charity events, etc.) through which people ultimately cross paths.
ML: What is something people would be surprised to learn about Monaco?
How many times have I heard that “Monaco is Disneyland for adults”,
a “playground for grown-ups”
or been asked “but people work in Monaco?”
So many people are surprised that there is so much more to Monaco than Formula 1 and lavish parties.
In fact, locals and expats live very normally. The Principality has a very dynamic business community. It has become a key economic and social actor in the regional labour market as it employs just over 52,000 people (despite having just 38,000 residents). This means that every day, thousands of professionals living in neighbouring countries come to work in Monaco and contribute to the development of the economy.
ML: Name your favourite place to meet up with friends? Favourite spot to work out?
It would have to be the Bar du Quai for after-work drinks and nibbles. It is cosy, chilled and welcoming. For more crazy parties, Sass Café and Jimmy’z.
But before enjoying these, a work out at the Thermes Marins de Monte-Carlo is an absolute must. The facilities and the trainers are top class and it feels like a family. In particular, the outdoor spinning classes with sea views are a treat!
ML: Did you always want to be a solicitor? What type of law do you practice at Moores Rowland?
I did! Practicing law allows you to use your mental skills each day in effective ways to solve problems for your clients. Because each case is unique, you must use these skills to research and formulate legal strategies to effectively solve their problems.
I have been practicing private client and corporate law for two and a half years at Moores Rowland (a corporate service provider based in Monaco for 40 years and specialised in international tax, trusts and company administration). Most of our clients are expats who are Monaco residents so I am able to put my overseas experience and qualifications as an English solicitor and New York attorney-at-law to good use. We also work closely with Monegasque lawyers to refer them all Monaco-related legal matters.
ML: You are perfectly bilingual. Is this because of your education abroad? Do you ever see yourself living long-term as an expat in, say, New York or London?
It is indeed. I went to state school here in Monaco in the international section, which I thoroughly recommend! Most of my summers were also spent visiting my extended family abroad in the UK and the US.
This enabled me to attend university in Keele in the UK for my undergraduate degree followed by law school at the Oxford Institute of Legal Practice, part of Oxford University.
The quality of life that Monaco offers, my current career and all my other activities make me want to stay in my hometown. It had always been my plan to learn as much as possible abroad during my studies in order to return to Monaco with additional knowledge and experience.
ML: You are also the Director of Business Network Events at the Monaco Junior Chamber of Commerce. Why is JCEM important to Monaco? Why did you choose to support this organisation?
Launched in 1963, JCEM is a well-established organisation in Monaco. Through our actions we are able to develop the economic attractiveness of the Principality, and the JCEM has enabled generations of young leaders and entrepreneurs to meet and share their experiences, set up common projects and develop their business acumen.
When I was asked to take over the directorship of Business Network Events, I was thrilled to start a new challenge but my one and only condition was to host at least half of the events in English in order to attract new members who were worried about the language barrier.
ML: Can you tell us about your past and upcoming events?
The past couple of events were extremely successful thanks to the keynote speakers and the incredible locations which were generously made available to us.
Cristiano Raimondi kindly hosted our first event on the Monaco Art Market at the Villa Sauber (Nouveau Musée National de Monaco) – this attracted 120 participants.
For our most recent event in June where Sir Stelios generously welcomed us on his terrace and gave a presentation on Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy hit 180 participants – a record of attendance for such event.
Our next event will focus on Health Care in Monaco and more specifically “How Hospital Princess Grace contributes to the attractiveness of Monaco” (with a presentation on health care systems in Monaco, new units in place and the new hospital) in October. Stay tuned and we might break even more records!
All joking aside, it is great to see that these events are popular and that people make time for them. I feel that my personal mission is accomplished when I see experts in the various fields participate in and find these events to be useful. In addition I have also heard of a number of work synergies, which followed from those events so it is a win-win.
ML: Speaking of Monaco attractiveness, you have just been appointed to a three-year post as a personnalité qualifiée (qualified individual) of the Strategic Council for Attractiveness (Conseil Strategique pour l’Attractivité, or CSA). What is the position of qualified individual, how does one get appointed?
It was truly an honour to be appointed by the Sovereign Order as a member of the CSA for the next three years.
The Council is comprised of two-thirds of qualified individuals, one-third of ex-officio members and three permanent experts. Qualified individuals are carefully chosen amongst Monegasque nationals and foreign residents according to their knowledge of the economy.
ML: What is the function of the CSA?
The CSA addresses issues relating to the economic development of Monaco and future planning, and aims to bring solutions, proposals and ideas to the Government. Five committees have been established, namely Real Estate, Finance, Monaco Capital of Yachting, Destination Monaco and Quality of life.
The committees are chaired by qualified individuals and meet periodically to discuss proposals and recommendations regarding the attractiveness of the Monegasque economy.
ML: Monaco is big on charity work and philanthropy. Do you do any charity work?
There are a number of charities in Monaco that are of great interest to me. However, as I have limited time to commit, I have chosen to focus on and help a charity set up by one of my friends, Muriel Natali-Laure, called Monaco Disease Power, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. Placed under the High Patronage of HSH Prince Albert II, the charity supports adults and children suffering from mental and physical disabilities or mental disorders. Apart from the annual fundraiser, we are also organising an all-day medical conference on Saturday, November 25 at the Théâtre des Variétés.
ML: You have a pretty hectic schedule. What is the one device you cannot live without?
It goes without saying … my iPhone! Although I am often tempted to throw it in the pool for some peace and quiet.
ML: How would you describe the female community in Monaco?
Active, strong, helpful and tight-knit. The incredible work of HSH Princess Charlene and her foundation is a perfect example of this.
ML: What is something you’ve always wanted to try or do in Monaco but still have not?
Open a charity shop. It has always been a dream of mine as I see how successful and popular they are in the UK.
I even had a specific idea of setting up a charity shop solely stocking designer handbags. Women in Monaco could donate their used (often hardly used at all) designer handbags and others (including tourists) could purchase these at a discounted price. Proceeds would then be donated to the customer’s Monegasque charity of choice. Staff could be Monaco residents who are keen to give back to society and happy to give half day a week to help great causes and charities.
One day, I will do it. I just need 30-hour days …
ML: What’s the best piece of advice another woman gave you?
“Don’t leave for tomorrow what can be done today” – copyright my mother, when she was trying to convince me to take the New York Bar exams at a time I thought was too soon. I was 24 years old, felt like I knew better and that I had better things to do at the time. Thank God for Moms! She was absolutely right and I would have NEVER taken it at a later stage!
Article first published September 26, 2017