Pamela Reif has a “small, but strong” following in Switzerland. But the social media star says no matter how small her audience is, she won’t turn to buying followers, something that’s looked down upon in her world. However, promoted posts are not out of the question, particularly if she courts a new following in Asia. It’s a market Reif says is interesting, with a lot of potential.
When it comes to relations with Switzerland, Guntram Wolff, director of European think tank Bruegel, says the new European Commission leadership has bigger fish to fry. “It’s just not on the top of the agenda for the top brass,” he says. Wolff highlights the EU’s top three issues and explains what Switzerland needs to know about what really matters to the European Union.
Companies including Airbus and Boeing are vying for the chance to replace Switzerland’s fighter jets. Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, is confident his company’s offer is the best one on the table. But that may not matter if Swiss voters reject the purchase in 2020. Hoke lays out the “very suitable offer” and gives a glimpse into Airbus’ involvement in the collaboration between the ESA and NASA to get back on the moon by 2024.
Roland Decorvet, the former CEO and chairman of Nestlé China, says that while his 20 years at the food giant shaped him as a leader, his experience as chairman of Mercy Ships Switzerland has taught him “what not to do.” In the final part of our interview, he shares his views on leadership and talks about what he calls “the biggest lie in the corporate world.”
Roland Decorvet, CEO of Philafrica Foods, says his company is not just about helping Africa, but rather trying to industrialize the continent. “We’re not giving handouts for people to survive,” he says. “We’re creating jobs, factories, and we’re helping farmers supply their crops to us at a good price.” In part three, Decorvet, the ex-Nestlé China head, talks about his goal to make Africa more self-sustainable.
Roland Decorvet, CEO of Philafrica Foods, sees similarities between 1990s China and the Africa of today. He cites Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa as an example, saying it looks like Beijing back in 1992. “It has strong government involvement, infrastructure being built, and a subway many European cities don’t have,” says Decorvet. In part two, he calls for more meaningful investment in Africa and talks about the role Switzerland, and Europe overall, must play to support growth.
Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has operated in 75 countries, bringing life-saving surgeries and medicine to those without access to such care. Roland Decorvet, chairman of Mercy Ships Switzerland, refers to the ship as a “floating village” that reaches “the forgotten, the poorest of the poor,” and requires thousands of volunteers and millions of dollars each year. Decorvet says an even bigger USD 130 million version of the ship is coming soon.
Wolford has been developing sustainable products since 2013 without any turnover, says director Andreas Röhrich. But the hefty investment has paid off in the form of a coveted certification from Cradle to Cradle, a global measure of sustainable products. Röhrich was a presenter at the Good Brand Guru event in Zurich last week to show how Wolford is marrying lingerie with sustainability.
Austrian hosiery company Wolford is yet another in a long line of apparel brands feeling the pinch of slowing sales. Andreas Röhrich, director of product development, innovation and sustainability, says its biggest competition is not Swiss brands like Fogal and Falke, but rather a shift in trends. Röhrich says a foray into the Chinese market, and a renewed focus on innovation and sustainability, will help boost Wolford in the years ahead.
The framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU has been a decade in the making. “It’s been 10 years of discussion, five years of negotiation, and a year since there’s been a text on the table,” ambassador Michael Matthiessen points out. In part two of our interview, he warns of potential consequences, including no new market access as well as an “erosion” of ties between both parties.
Michael Matthiessen, EU ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, has a message for the world: The European Union is back in top form. “The EU has been a bit too nice,” says Matthiessen, who warns that we will see a more “assertive” Europe on the world stage. With the new leadership of the European Commission set to take over on December 1, Matthiessen declares, “We are the European Union. We have European values. We want to do it the European way.”
Switzerland’s neutrality lends itself well to hosting open discussions around cybersecurity, says Amy Jordan, cybersecurity delivery lead at the WEF. In part two, she says that while the country “falls somewhere in the middle” when it comes to combating cybercrime, its financial sector is one of the most advanced in the world. “They are aware of the significant impact it can have on their bottom line,” Jordan says.
Cybercrime will cost the private sector upward of USD 5 trillion over the next five years, says Amy Jordan, cybersecurity delivery lead at the World Economic Forum. The WEF’s Centre for Cybersecurity looks to equip business leaders with the knowledge they need to stop hackers, but as attacks increase, there still aren’t enough experts in the field to help companies combat them. Jordan offered some solutions at last week’s annual WEF Cybersecurity Summit in Geneva.
From high drug prices to tough regulations, the Swiss pharma industry has its share of obstacles, says Thierry Mauvernay, president of Debiopharm. In part two, he points out some of Switzerland’s biggest hurdles, including the country’s fear of risk and the weak link between academia and industry, both of which Mauvernay says are impediments to innovation.
The focus at Debiopharm is on the drugs, says its president Thierry Mauvernay. The Lausanne-based private company says its smaller, less complicated structure is key to producing disruptive drugs, something that Mauvernay says is difficult for larger Swiss pharma rivals. He credits Debiopharm’s business model as the reason the company has some promising new cancer drugs in the pipeline.