The best way to predict the future is to change it. Abraham Lincoln
JUST over 25 years ago, a diminutive, unassuming, softly-spoken woman named Maria Jose Cañete established a company that has become synonymous with the Costa del Sol.
At a time when women weren’t exactly encouraged to follow their vision, Maria Jose’s inner determination, hard work and passion brought Helicopteros Sanitarios to life; a company that has grown and expanded under the leadership of a woman who doesn’t know what it means to ‘rest on one’s laurels.’
We had the honour and privilege of attending a Helicopteros Sanitarios event at the beautiful Puente Romano Hotel over the weekend, and although we have known Maria Jose for nearly 20 years, it was at this lunch that we really, truly saw the depth of the love and admiration for her among her colleagues and friends.
There are times when a communal feeling can be palpable, and the sense of pure adoration and regard that filled the air when Maria Jose rose to speak brought us close to tears.
Even the waiters in the Sea Grill Restaurant knew that this was somebody absolutely revered by those in the room.
Maria Jose is a woman of few words, but the few things that she says are so forceful, so utterly compelling and truthful, that no man or woman could fail to be ignited by her voice.
The adoring eyes of her husband, Bjorn Ronning, never left her as she spoke, nor did the eyes of Dr. Jose Ramirez Giraldez, the first ever doctor to work with Helicopteros Sanitarios (24-hours a day, four days a week at the beginning).
The room – filled with colleagues including some who have been with Maria Jose from the very start – was in awe of this vibrant woman.
As we moved around the room, each table spoke affectionately about Maria Jose – in a variety of different languages – and the language of admiration was one that shone through universally.
We couldn’t understand everything, but we understood completely the tone and feeling of each speaker. The warm way that people spoke about her was clearly evident.
Maria Jose had a vision all those years ago, and that vision has changed the lives of so many.
Thousands, if not millions of people of all nationalities have been touched by her. Helicopteros Sanitarios has grown and matured under Maria Jose’s guidance to become the all-important life saving service it is today; a service that includes home-visiting GPs whose myriad of duties range from administering morphine to the terminally ill, to bandaging the finger of a crying three-year-old, to checking the blood pressure of an over-zealous golfer on the golf course.
Maria Jose can stand tall and be proud of what she has achieved.
The people of Spain should be proud of this petite, unassuming woman who – as is necessary in business – also has a rod of steel running through her!
She is living proof that anyone can make their dreams come true if they are prepared to dedicate their lives to their vision, without faltering when obstacles are thrown in the way.
The word ‘can’t’ does not exist in Maria Jose’s vocabulary and she is the personification of the word ‘perseverance.’
She is a human machine with a heart of gold and she is creating a legacy that will continue throughout Spain long after our grandchildren depart from this earth. The concept of Helicopteros Sanitarios is still to me, as a foreigner, one of the best. Her dream to build a hospital that will be run with her ethos of professionalism and excellence is one that will no doubt come to fruition, and the community on the Costa del Sol and further afield owe her much.
Maria Jose Cañete is not only remarkable, she is a woman of the kind you will only meet once in a lifetime and we are honoured and blessed to call her a friend.
Some women daydream, others make their dreams their daily business.
Maria Jose Cañete is that woman.
Michel and Steven Euesden