The Executive Talk

Our Editor-in-Chief Urs Gredig sits down with the CEOs and Chairmen of Swiss companies as well as other opinion leaders and policy makers in the country. Business is a topic, but not only: we want to know what makes these people tick! What drives the entrepreneurs, what is their business philosophy and how do they measure and face the challenges of their industry? Who is the person behind the image, the character behind the brand? The tone is fresh but challenging, personal yet authoritative, and always entertaining as we get to know the personalities that make up Switzerland.
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Urs Gredig
Lionel Schlessinger: The man who paints Apple
Lionel Schlessinger is an unusual boss. As CEO of the family-run industrial paint company Monopol Colors, he lets his team climb mountains and makes bets with customers that he can deliver faster than they think. An unconventional yet successful approach: A paint developed especially for Apple, for example, is now gracing the tech giant's new headquarters in Silicon Valley. In this week's Executive Talk, Lionel Schlessinger tells editor-in-chief Urs Gredig how becoming CEO at age 26 has shaped his management style and why challenging old habits has helped his company to grow despite some difficult moments.
Urs Gredig
Former FIFA President Joseph "Sepp" Blatter: "I'm still around and FIFA doesn't like it!"
What is it like to be kicked out of an executive position, to lose almost all your friends, and to be vilified by so many? Joseph "Sepp" Blatter knows all about it. For almost two decades as president of FIFA, football's world governing body, Blatter not only rubbed shoulders with the rich and powerful, he also headed a highly lucrative business, one that racked up USD 2 billion in revenue per year. Suspended after being accused of wrongdoing, he is currently serving a six-year ban from participating in FIFA activities. In this week's Executive Talk with Editor in Chief Urs Gredig, the 82-year-old Blatter speaks about the mistakes he made, how much he's suffered from the allegations, and why being born prematurely has helped him become a lifelong fighter.
Urs Gredig
"We live in a golden age for women," says investment expert Mirjam Staub-Bisang
Breaking the glass ceiling has not been an issue for Mirjam Staub-Bisang. The CEO of Independent Capital Group and Chairman of Profond Pension Plan thinks that times for women in business have never been better. In this week's Executive Talk, she tells Editor-in-Chief Urs Gredig how she manages her work-life balance, why she thinks promotions are better investments than paying out big bonuses, and how raising girls and boys taught her a lot about gendered behavior in the workplace.
Urs Gredig
Salt CEO Schönenberger: "I understand people's concern with data issues"
When it comes to digitization in Switzerland, Andreas Schönenberger has been a pioneer in the field. The former country manager of Google Switzerland has been a trailblazer in implementing new technologies in the Swiss business world. Today he's the CEO of the telecommunication provider Salt, and he's this week's guest on The Executive Talk. In an interview with Editor in Chief Urs Gredig, he talks about how competitive the Swiss telecom market really is and why having a PhD in physics helps him cope with frustration in his everyday life as a chief executive.
Urs Gredig
MPS CEO Nicola Thibaudeau: "I'm a good boss!"
She is one of the best-known businesswomen in French-speaking Switzerland and is at the forefront of Swiss innovation. Nicola Thibaudeau has been called a true force of nature and is certainly not your typical executive. Born in Canada, she grew up with ten siblings and always had big dreams – many of which have become reality, for example getting a pilot license or climbing some of the highest mountains. As CEO of the successful micromechanical company MPS, she keeps growing the business. In this week's Executive Talk, she tells our editor-in-chief Urs Gredig how she motivates her employees and why she does not like the idea of quotas for women.
Urs Gredig
Thomas Oetterli: The man who'd rather be a CEO than a professional footballer
Would you rather be a top CEO or a professional footballer? Granted, that's not a choice a lot of people will ever have to make, but Thomas Oetterli did. The former goalkeeper chose the career in business and is now the CEO of Schindler Group, one of the world's leading providers of elevators and escalators. In "The Executive Talk," he tells our Editor in Chief Urs Gredig about his management style, how his company stays competitive in the world market, and why living and working in China has been an eye-opener for him.
Urs Gredig
Barry Callebaut CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique: "Trust is at the core of leadership"
He's a self-proclaimed “people person” and manages by walking around and getting to know as many of his 11,000 employees as possible. Antoine de Saint-Affrique is the CEO of Barry Callebaut, the world's leading chocolate and cocoa company, which is based in Switzerland. In this week's Executive Talk, he tells Editor-in-Chief Urs Gredig that he not only accepts but loves the pressure that comes with his job.
Urs Gredig
"Previous success can be a big handicap," says biotech visionary Jean-Paul Clozel
When Jean-Paul Clozel sold his biotech firm Actelion to Johnson & Johnson for USD 30 billion last year, it was the biggest European pharma deal in more than a decade and made him and his wife Martine, the co-founder, instant billionaires. But instead of resting on his laurels, Clozel immediately founded a new company, Idorsia, which develops drugs to treat insomnia, lupus, and other diseases. In the Executive Talk, he tells Editor in Chief Urs Gredig why he's in it for the long run and why his love of science is at the core of everything he does.
Urs Gredig
Monika Walser, de Sede CEO: "It's not always easy with me"
Monika Walser is not a woman who beats around the bush. The CEO of the Swiss furniture manufacturer de Sede and former head of the iconic brand Freitag prefers to be direct. Since arriving at de Sede four years ago, she has led the indebted company back into the black. How did she manage that "open heart surgery" as she puts it, and how does her team react to her straightforward leadership tactics? Find out in this week's Executive Talk with editor in chief Urs Gredig.
Urs Gredig
"I was never a public figure; I don't need the limelight"
Peter Voser has been called the quiet star among Swiss business leaders. The man who left school at 16 to do an apprenticeship may be known as soft-spoken, but he's arguably the most successful Swiss CEO of the last two decades. As head of Shell, he was rumored to be Europe's best paid executive, and as chairman of the board of ABB, he's now instrumental in defining the strategy for the Swiss engineering conglomerate. The avid football fan talks to CNNMoney Switzerland's editor in chief Urs Gredig about the big pay, big dreams, and big challenges of being a top manager.
Urs Gredig
"Leaving IWC after 15 years was like a divorce"
Georges Kern has been called the "rock star CEO" of the Swiss watch industry. Last year the then-head of IWC and Richemont executive caused a stir with his surprise move to the top job at Breitling. With the backing of a private equity group that acquired an 80 percent stake in the 134-year-old brand, Kern has big plans for Breitling. What drives this industry veteran and style guru? Find out in "The Executive Talk" with editor-in-chief Urs Gredig.
Urs Gredig
Samih Sawiris: The man who transformed Andermatt
The Egyptian business magnate Samih Sawiris has been called a dreamer and even a madman for his penchant to pursue the seemingly impossible. For instance, he made wine in his home country which didn't have a big wine tradition, built a tourist town in the Egyptian desert, and has now rejuvenated the sleepy Swiss mountain village of Andermatt, where he overcame local skepticism and built a new resort. So who is this scion of Egypt's wealthiest business family? And why is a man who is used to taking risks facing possibly his biggest risk yet in a concert hall. Find out in "The Executive Talk.
Urs Gredig
Josef Ackermann: "Yes, there was excessive behavior by bankers"
The former head of Deutsche Bank, Swiss-born Josef Ackermann, emerged from the financial crisis as arguably the most powerful banker in Europe. Praised by the media as an "international statesman" and a "pop star", he has also been called dangerous by critics – mostly due to his excessive profit targets. A few weeks after his 70th birthday, Josef Ackermann looks back on the turbulence of the financial crisis and tells CNNMoney Switzerland what he would have done differently.

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