Dona Bertarelli 101: Multifaceted Entrepreneur
Zatrun Published at January 08, 2024

Dona Bertarelli, also known as Donata Guichard Bertarelli, has carved a remarkable path as a Swiss businesswoman of Italian origin. Her story encompasses entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and an extraordinary sailing career that includes breaking records. has meticulously examined the journey of this remarkable figure, shedding light on her profound impact on various domains.

Dona Bertarelli: Early Years and Entrepreneurship

Dona Bertarelli’s journey begins in Rome, 1968, where she was born into the family of Fabio Bertarelli. Her family heritage is intertwined with Serono, a biotechnology company founded in 1906 in Rome, which played a foundational role in building the family’s wealth.

As the years progressed, the Bertarelli family diversified their interests into various sectors, including finance, real estate, health, sports, hospitality, and agriculture. According to Forbes, the family ranked as the 81st wealthiest worldwide in 2011, showcasing the magnitude of their success. Dona Bertarelli holds a BSc from Boston University’s College of Communication, a testament to her commitment to education.

The Entrepreneurial Odyssey

Dona Bertarelli’s entrepreneurial journey led her to actively participate in Serono, the family business. From 1992 to 1997, she held the role of Executive Director, Public and Professional Affairs. During her tenure, she played a pivotal role in establishing the Serono Symposi and the Serono Foundation, contributing to the company’s influence in the field of biotechnology.

In 2007, the company underwent significant changes as it was sold to Merck KGaA, marking a transformative moment in the family’s business trajectory. Additionally, Dona Bertarelli took charge of the Grand Hôtel Park, a five-star establishment located in Gstaad, in 2003. Her leadership extended to Ledunfly Hospitality in March 2017, when she appointed hotelier Grace Leo as CEO.

Philanthropy and Global Initiatives

Dona Bertarelli’s commitment to philanthropy is noteworthy. Following her father’s passing, she co-founded the Bertarelli Foundation in 1999, dedicated to advancing scientific, social, and economic knowledge in the field of infertility. For a decade, she served as the Chairman of the Foundation, passionately driving its mission.

In recent years, her engagement in sustainability and the “Blue economy” garnered attention. Her co-authored article on the need for blue recovery sustainability underscores her dedication to environmental causes. Furthermore, in collaboration with Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, she encouraged global exploration of the “Blue economy.”

Dona Bertarelli’s commitment extends to the Bertarelli Rare Cancers Fund, which has supported USD 15 million in research projects and community building. Her recent launch of the Sports for Nature partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature aims to raise awareness for environmental protection through the sporting community.

Sailing and Record-Breaking,

Beyond her achievements in business and philanthropy, Dona Bertarelli has made waves in the world of sailing. Since 2007, she has been racing with her team, Spindrift Racing, demonstrating exceptional prowess in monotype multihull regattas on Lake Léman with her Décision 35 catamaran, Ladycat. Her victory in the Bol d’Or Mirabaud in 2010 marked a historic moment, as she became the first helmswoman to win the race since its inception in 1939.

In 2013, she acquired the Maxi Trimaran, Maxi Spindrift 2, which would be the vessel for a series of impressive feats. She co-skippered her team to victory in the 45th Rolex Fastnet and also set a new record for the America Discovery Route. These accomplishments highlighted her exceptional sailing skills and her ability to lead a crew to success.

Dona Bertarelli’s sailing endeavors continued as she embarked on multiple attempts to break the Jules Verne Trophy record for a crewed non-stop circumnavigation. While breaking the record remained elusive, she became the fastest woman to sail around the world, solidifying her place in the history of sailing.

In her ongoing pursuit of records, Dona Bertarelli’s commitment to environmental causes remains unwavering. Her advocacy for the protection of our planet aligns with her dedication to making a positive impact on a global scale.

In October 2022, Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard put their crew on standby for another record-breaking attempt of the Jules Verne Trophy, aiming for the fastest non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation of the world.

Dona Bertarelli’s journey is a testament to her versatility and determination. Her impact on business, philanthropy, and the world of sailing is a source of inspiration and a reminder of the positive change one individual can bring to the world. Explore her fascinating story further at, where we delve deep into the lives of extraordinary individuals for you.

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