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
Economiesuisse director: “It’s liberating to be able to speak out”
Monika Rühl is a trained diplomat with a successful career in the Swiss federal administration. Now, as head of the business association Economiesuisse, she finds herself as a spokesperson in the midst of all the big discussions—and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Urs Gredig
Thomas Borer: “I don’t feel offended if someone calls me a lobbyist”
As former Swiss ambassador to Germany and head of the 1990s’ task force “Switzerland—Second World War,” Thomas Borer is used to dealing with difficult situations. Now a strategic consultant, Borer has some compelling ideas about how Switzerland should deal with the European Union.
Urs Gredig
Two-time advertiser of the year: “I’m not a good lazy person”
Regula Bührer Fecker has been named as one of the 100 most important business figures in Switzerland as well as one of the 100 most successful Swiss under 40. Find out how the advertising executive stays creative and why she thinks young businesswomen lack good role models.
Urs Gredig
Rivella CEO: “I’m not a guy who wants to control everything”
Erland Brügger has led the most iconic Swiss drinks company for over 10 years. The marketing expert talks about being CEO of a family-owned business, the difficulty of promoting Rivella abroad, and why hard talks with his father helped him become a better executive.
Urs Gredig
Carl Elsener of Victorinox: “We think in generations, not in quarters”
The man behind the famous Swiss army knife is known as one of the most socially conscious entrepreneurs in Switzerland. For Carl Elsener, respect for his employees, his customers, and the over 130-year-old family tradition is at the core of everything Victorinox does.
Urs Gredig
Nestlé chairman Paul Bulcke on criticism: “High trees catch more wind”
This year marks Paul Bulcke’s 40th anniversary at Nestlé. The former CEO and current chairman of the world’s biggest food and beverage company speaks about his leadership values, how he faces criticism, and why working in many different countries has helped him to stay grounded, an asset since, according to him, “egos are not good” in corporate life.
Urs Gredig
Serial entrepreneur Cédric Waldburger: “I take ‘nerd’ as a compliment”
Cédric Waldburger started his first company when he was 14 and has invested in a variety of projects ever since, from an online tailor in Hong Kong to a Swiss sex-toy shop. The self-proclaimed geek and founder of Tenderloin Ventures talks about his business ideas as well as his minimalistic lifestyle as a digital nomad who owns less than 64 things.
Urs Gredig
Hotel executive Tanja Wegmann: “I’m more relaxed than 10 years ago”
The general manager of the Grand Hotel les Trois Rois in Basel has returned to the oldest city hotel in Europe after working in other industries. Does she manage her staff differently compared to 10 years ago and how have her leadership values changed over time?
Urs Gredig
Jürg Marquard: “I made a lot of money, but I also lost a lot of money”
In 1965, Jürg Marquard launched what would eventually become his eponymous publishing company with a small loan from friends. More than 50 years later, his multimillion dollar media group remains one of the most successful in the industry. And he’s not about to stop working any time soon.
Urs Gredig
Parmigiani CEO: “Watchmaking is the true expression of the Swiss way”
Davide Traxler has worked for several prestigious watch companies in his career. Now he’s at the helm of Parmigiani Fleurier, one of the very few Swiss watchmakers that manufacture every component in-house.
Urs Gredig
Ava founder Lea von Bidder: “We have a diversity issue in the start-up world”
Last year, Lea von Bidder, the designated CEO of Ava, a Zurich- and San Francisco-based start-up specializing in women’s digital health care, was the only Swiss named in Forbes’s annual “30 Under 30” list. Von Bidder talks to us about being one of the few female executives in her field and why being from Switzerland can be asset, even in Silicon Valley.
Urs Gredig
Benedikt Germanier: From top banker to renegade ski entrepreneur
Former researcher Benedikt Germanier swapped his banking career for the slopes and the challenge of being CEO of the ski manufacturer ZAI. We talked to Germanier about what he wants to achieve with his premium brand and how the financial crisis in 2008 shaped him as a businessman. He also revealed why, despite taking a pay cut and working more than ever, he is happier than he ever was working for a bank.
Urs Gredig
Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan: How to be a boss in an “unbossed” company
The American-born Harvard doctor has been at the head of the Swiss pharmaceutical company since February of last year, and he didn’t lose any time changing the corporate culture of the company. Why does he think innovation should come from the bottom and how does wearing jeans and no tie help make him a better executive?
Urs Gredig
Venture capital pioneer Gina Domanig: Swiss start-ups “could achieve a lot more”
In the year 2000, American-born Gina Domanig founded Emerald Technology Ventures, the first independent cleantech venture capital fund in Europe. Today, her company has more than 60 investments in emerging industrial technology leaders, and she serves on several company boards in Switzerland. How does she make the right investment decisions and why are Swiss businesses tough customers for venture capital?
Urs Gredig
"We stand out because the rest is quite bad,” says H. Moser CEO
Edouard Meylan, CEO of watchmaker H. Moser & Cie., knows how to build buzz, be it by making models out of cheese or by speaking out against a lack of government support for the industry. How does this rebel from a traditional watch family come up with his ideas and is it more than just smart PR?

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