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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.
The Executive TalkThe Executive TalkThe Executive Talk

Urs Gredig
Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne CEO: We choose students for their values
Michel Rochat is the head of arguably the most prestigious hotel school in the world. How does he manage to keep on top of the rankings and what leadership principles does he teach to his students?
Urs Gredig
CS Chairman Rohner: “Bankers were never loved, at best respected”
As a 5-year-old, he promoted fish fingers on TV, as a teen he was a Swiss athletics champion, and since 2011 Urs Rohner has been chairman of the board at Credit Suisse. How does he react to criticism, what did the financial crisis teach him, and why does he find banking “intellectually stimulating”?
Urs Gredig
Are you really worth a CHF 15 million salary, Mr. Schwan?
The Roche CEO discusses his remuneration, the importance of failure, and why Switzerland risks losing its competitive edge in the field of big data.
Urs Gredig
Female airline boss: “People in the industry were laughing at me!”
Helene Niedhart never shied away from challenges. When as a professional pilot she couldn’t find a job, she simply started her own company, Cat Aviation. Thirty years later, the first and only female owner of an airline in Switzerland looks back on her career and her leadership principles.
Urs Gredig
Marc Walder: From tennis pro to digitization guru and media master
The Ringier CEO on how his former career in professional sports has helped him become a better leader and why he has never lost his journalistic curiosity.
Urs Gredig
Thomas Christ: Why China is a more predictable superpower than U.S.
The acting president of the Swiss-Chinese Chamber of Commerce tells us why he sees China in the driver’s seat of the world economy and how the Swiss could profit from the current trade tensions.
Urs Gredig
What’s next for Swiss-U.K. relations post-Brexit
Jane Owen, the British ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, discusses the special relationship between Switzerland and the United Kingdom and how the two countries could become even stronger allies after Brexit.
Urs Gredig
So when exactly will you leave the Federal Council, Mrs. Leuthard?
As the political career of Doris Leuthard slowly draws to a close, we ask the popular member of the Swiss government what she loves—and doesn’t love—about her demanding job, and what she plans to do when she eventually leaves the Federal Council.
Urs Gredig
Caran d’Ache president: “We are a love brand”
Carole Hübscher, chairwoman of Caran d’Ache, the famed-manufacturer of luxury writing instruments, discusses how to profit from disruption, why maintaining Swiss character remains a challenge, and whether working in a family business adds additional pressure.
Urs Gredig
Alexis Nasard: What Lady Gaga taught the Bata CEO about leadership
According to Guinness World Records, no other shoe company has sold as many products as Swiss-based retailer Bata. However, the brand suffers from a coolness deficit, admits CEO Alexis Nasard. In this week’s Executive Talk, the Lebanese-born manager tells Urs Gredig how he plans to make the Bata product portfolio trendier. Nasard also reveals why he looks to Lady Gaga, Pope Francis, and Emmanuel Macron for inspiration and shares how growing up in a war-torn country has marked him personally and professionally.
Urs Gredig
The woman who’s committed to curing Alzheimer’s disease
Andrea Pfeifer is a woman on a mission. The CEO of the Lausanne-based, Nasdaq-listed Swiss biopharmaceutical AC Immune is determined to find breakthrough therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Pfeifer—who as head of Nestlé’s Global Research managed a group of more than 600 people—took a risk in taking charge of a then unknown start-up. “I was going back to square zero,” she says, “with no business plan and no guarantee for success.” In this week’s Executive Talk, she tells Editor in Chief Urs Gredig about her leadership principles, her values, and what people like Nelson Mandela and Steve Jobs have taught her about being a good boss.
Urs Gredig
Jean-François Manzoni: The IMD president who teaches executives how to become leaders
As president of the world-renowned business school IMD in Lausanne, Jean-François Manzoni knows a thing or two about leadership. In fact, he teaches executives how to face the various challenges of heading a company. So what qualities make for a good business leader? And can anyone learn to become a CEO? That, among other things, is what CNNMoney Switzerland’s Editor in Chief Urs Gredig asked the Canadian-French academic in his wide-ranging Executive Talk this week.
Urs Gredig
Why the youngest three-star chef in Europe never gets tired
He is not only one of the best chefs in the world but also a successful business man. Andreas Caminada holds three Michelin stars, 19 Gault Millau points, and his restaurant in a tiny village in Graubünden is regularly ranked among the top 50 in the world. But he’s a brand, too, and he knows how to sell his persona as much as his culinary creations. In an interview with Editor in Chief Urs Gredig, the youngest three-star chef in Europe talks about his business sense, why he considers pressure a good thing, and how despite his laid-back image he can still get loud in the kitchen.
Urs Gredig
EPFL President Martin Vetterli: “Switzerland could use a more vibrant venture capital scene”
As a world renown expert in electrical engineering, computer sciences and applied mathematics, Martin Vetterli is a star in Swiss academic circles. And as president of the EPFL in Lausanne, he is also the head of an institution that ranks among the world’s best universities. In this interview with Urs Gredig, he tells us whether he thinks Switzerland has lost ground on innovation and how growing up without a television has made him a better scientist.
Urs Gredig
Power of big tech companies can be a risk, says Microsoft Switzerland CEO
Marianne Janik, CEO of Microsoft Switzerland, is at the forefront of digital transformation. Working for the tech giant has taught her about the huge potential of digitalization, but it has also made her aware that with big data comes big responsibility. Find out how Janik is fighting to break through the glass ceiling and why she sometimes prefers a good old-fashioned pen and paper to a computer or a tablet.
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