One year after leaving the textile giant Paul Island (Madrid, 1964) confesses that if he had not been CEO of Inditex he would have created his own law firm or would have been a film director.

Now, the former president of the largest listed company in Spain enjoys transmitting his experience to business students as president of the international governing council of IE University. Interviewed by the Financial Times, he wears a navy blue suit and a Massimo Dutti shirt.

“I bought this brand before joining Inditex,” explains this State lawyer, married for 33 years to Maria de la Vega and with three children, two girls and a boy, Santi, a writer, musician and a good student (below, with his father).

A few years ago, more than one person wondered what a person who will not have problems in his life to make ends meet and who leaves a company that gave a net profit of 3,240 million euros on a turnover of 27,720 million, can do.

Also read: Pablo Isla hands over the controls of Inditex to Marta Ortega: 32 years married, three children, fabulous student, movie buff and compulsive reader

For now we can talk about what he doesn’t do: sit still. He travels a lot, to Switzerland and across the pond. Let’s not forget that in May he signed US venture capital General Atlantic as a senior global advisor, to which he provides strategic support, both to the investment team and to the global portfolio. His focus is on technology and consumer companies with a clear digital component. General Atlantic manages 82,000 million and is a partner of the Spanish unicorn Typeform.

In addition, Isla is a director of Nestlé and has embarked on a production company with a large amount of both creative and financial talent. The new audiovisual partners of Fonte Films, founded by the former president of Inditex, already work together with a man who has always confessed his deep passion for cinema. Among his partners are the screenwriter of flour and the winner of a Goya. And all this without counting her work in some of the most important foundations known and in the field of teaching.

Travel aside, his residence now has to be located between Madrid and Galicia, where his youngest daughter is still studying and his wife spends more time. Pablo Isla has properties not only in Coruña and the capital. He has houses in the Balearic Islands, Lisbon and Segovia, among other destinations.

Another thing that Pablo Isla does not do is refer to who his rivals were when he was in charge of Inditex. “I will never talk about another company, not even with investors,” he tells the British newspaper. “Companies thrive not just because of the business model, but because of the execution of that model. It’s almost impossible to succeed if you try to replicate another company’s business model without having their culture,” reflects Isla.

On that very characteristic feature of his personality that is discretion and that he has in common with his former boss, Amancio Ortega, Pablo Isla, without saying that he is and has always been somewhat shy, argues that it was in favor of the company: “I thought it would be better for the company to be the protagonist. Of course it gave press conferences. It’s not that I wasn’t in contact with the media, but I’ve always preferred to keep a low profile,” he admits. However, Pablo Isla, although he did not make an effort to appear in the media, made glorious headlines, and not only because of the brilliant results of the company he ran, but also when he topped the ranking of Harvard Business Review of the best global CEO for two consecutive years.

Amancio Ortega as an example of leadership: “Now we are very friends”

For the State lawyer, the important thing is “to lead with values”, and he cites, among others, respect and transparency: “I have always tried to be a person who can be trusted”, he reiterates. At this point, Pablo Isla alludes to Amancio Ortega as an example of leadership, using the founder of Inditex as a reference. He says that he talks frequently about his current relationship with the main shareholder of the textile giant. “It’s the closest thing to being a family without being one. At first the level of understanding between us was quite obvious. Now we are very close friends,” he reveals.

When Ortega was looking for a CEO in 2005, the pay was good, but the Leonese resident in Galicia made it a condition that the candidate reside in Galicia and several withdrew from the process, recalls Isla. At that time it was President of Altadis, where he arrived at the hands of César Alierta; previously he had been general director of Patrimony with Rodrigo Rato and head of the legal department of Popular. As a state lawyer he did not practice for too long. As he took number one out of his promotion, he chose José Barrionuevo’s Ministry of Transportation, and under the orders of Martin Palacin, He worked at the time when private televisions were born and wrote a book (which is a reference) on sports corporations.

When he arrived at Inditex, he believed he was getting married forever, as he did with the mother of his children on July 28, 1989. His happy marriage continues with María de la Vega, but not with Inditex. “Whatever I do, I always think about doing it indefinitely. I think it’s the only way to face your professional life.”