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Gino Zabeo becomes ICAEW West of England Chair

Author: ICAEW

Published: 09 Nov 2023

Gino was elected Chair for 2023-24 at the ICAEW West of England AGM on 7 June. We wanted to find out a little more about Gino and his plans for the year ahead.

Tell us about your career – any particular highlights in your working life to date?

My professional career started in 1997 when I joined the graduate training program of what was then still Price Waterhouse in Leicester. After qualifying in 2000, I was then seconded to PwC Bologna in Italy and from there I moved to Treviso to take on the role of FD of a new group company of Segafredo Zanetti in 2005. During my time with Segafredo Zanetti, I developed a passion for the art and culture of coffee, tea, chocolate and spices. In 2011 my wife and I and our three boys moved back to the UK in Wiltshire and I took on the role as global expansion advisor with Vistra in Bristol.

Where's home? What brought you to the west of England?

I live in a small parish in Wiltshire in the Pewsey vale. The main reason why we moved here was to be near family (but not too close!). We love being immersed in the calming nature of this ANOB but still having access to bigger cities and towns when we need them.

Any hobbies?

I am a regular and seasoned (ageing) runner. I don't chase PBs anymore, but running gives me strength, wellbeing, friendship, discovery, resilience, resourcefulness, patience, tolerance, sometimes pain, frustration and suffering followed by the magic of recovery and healing. My other passion is food which I can enjoy because I run!

Tell us about your typical weekend

I am early riser and I like to start my weekends with a long run on the trails near me. Saturdays I prepare homemade pizza for dinner and Sundays we potter around the garden after watching our boys play rugby.

What's your favourite book?

I really enjoy reading books about running and my favourite book has to be 'Finding Gobi', a truly heart-warming story of a seasoned ultramarathon runner, who unexpectedly stumbled across a little stray dog while competing in a gruelling 155 mile race across the Gobi Desert. The incredible determination of this small animal and the drama of bringing it to the UK is inspirational.

Musical tastes?

I have a very eclectic range of genres that I like to listen to depending on what I am doing and the mood I am in. Classical or "chill" music when I want to unwind; drum & base and electronic dance music when I need energy!

Your involvement with ICAEW West of England

How relevant has ICAEW been to you in your career?

 I consider the ICAEW qualification one of my highest achievements. When I started my training, I had only been in the UK for a year as an Erasmus student from Verona and then for another year post graduation. This gave me the confidence to embrace new challenges and not be afraid of change or failure. I am proud to belong to ICAEW.

Why did you join the West of England Board?

I attended a few events in the past and I felt very welcomed by the past presidents, committee members and of course by our regional executive Karen. I started to get involved during lockdowns as I wanted to contribute as much as possible to our regional recovery. I believe in the power of networks and connections between professionals, education providers, public sector, third sector and the wider business community, to coalesce and amplify the impact of initiatives that address issues that can hinder the prosperity and wellbeing of our communities. I think ICAEW provides a platform and network to do this.

What persuaded you to put yourself forward as an office-holder on the Board?

I want to be as helpful as possible and taking on an active role gives me the opportunity to make a contribution to the initiatives of the board.

What is your priority for the coming year as Chair?

There are several factors that will make this year particularly interesting – internal, such as the transition from district society to a regional network, which I expect will require some adjustments – as well as external with the cost of living crisis still presenting serious challenges for individuals and businesses - and finally international, dominated by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. My priority will be to help our members in the region increase their awareness and understanding of the potential risks and also explore new opportunities, not just to survive, but hopefully thrive through this period.

What do you think ICAEW West of England does well?

I think our committee/board members are a very cohesive and supportive group of members who are engaged, enthusiastic and respectful of each other. The legacy of past office holders and members provides a strong foundation that I hope we will continue to build on and enhance. The richness of representation and experience each member contributes as well as alignment of purpose, makes the ICAEW West of England a much respected and impactful organisation for the benefit of the region.

What would you like ICAEW West of England to do more of (if anything)?

My hope is that we will strengthen our collaboration with other professional bodies to combine our efforts and contribute even more to the recovery of our region.

You took over from Ololade Adesanya on 7 June. What do you think was her standout contribution this year that she will be remembered for?

I think Ololade was a true ambassador of one of the key strategic themes of ICAEW both nationally and regionally of increasing diversity and inclusion of our profession. She personified and championed initiatives to increase awareness and promote the D&I agenda amongst our members and the wider professional community in our region and beyond.

In 12 months' time, what do you want to be remembered for doing?

I consider myself a humble custodian and steward of the board. Therefore, rather than being remembered for a personal spotlight, I would like to simply continue the legacy of my predecessors and deliver our flagship events and initiatives aligned with our regional and national strategic themes.