Markus Bider / CFIO Sekisui Alveo Group/ Lucerne, Switzerland

As someone who has had over 20 years’ experience within the Swiss market-place, how have you found the Swiss market & has the working environment changed over these years?

The market has changed a lot over the last couple of years. We react and deploy faster, and behave more aggressively, which can lead to more mistakes. The market cycles are shorter but if you have winning formulae, stick to what works well. Switzerland's economic success is based on a comparatively egalitarian society. There is an increasing disconnect between the economic and political leaders. Swiss politicians have in the confrontations with EU and OECD not played their cards well by giving too little too late. This has weakened the financial sector and is threatening the competitive tax climate of Switzerland. As a consequence, political stability is weakening. The rise of national conservativism is a threat to the small open economy.

 

What in your opinion have been the drivers for these changes?

When we compare Europe to 20 years ago, then we see that not much economic progress has happened. The European Union has struggled to resolve its problems thus threatening the Swiss economy in several ways as Europe is our biggest market. We see a European integration process that has stalled and is going into reverse gear. A consequence of the European weakness is the strength of the Swiss Franc, which erodes our competitivity.  The digitalisation allows new highly profitable business models, which in turn can threaten the social fabric on which western societies are built, by reducing employment opportunities.

 

What advice would you offer to someone moving to Switzerland?

If you immigrate for good, you should seriously strive to integrate into the Swiss society. Try to make strong connections through networks within the local community and send your children to the public schools. Learn the language. If you are an expat, enjoy the excellent quality of life; the nature, the public amenities, the central location in Europe and make the best of it while you are here. Never spend a rainy day at home.

 

What challenges await your business and how do you hope to overcome them?

As an industrial company working 24/7 in an increasingly de-industrialised continent we face several challenges. The workbenches of our customers are moving east. The ageing work-force requires us to accommodate new work patterns besides the classical shift models. The regulatory burdens in Europe should not exceed the levels of other regions, as we have factories in the Netherlands, UK and Germany but are in competition with suppliers across the globe.

 

What excites you about working for Sekisui Alveo AG?

The people I work with. I very much like the (comparatively) small size of our company. This allows to exercise a good range of strategic responsibility without getting out of touch with day-to-day operations.

 

What are your personal motivators?

Improved processes. Engaged and dedicated teams. Honesty.
Change is a fact. There is always the possibility to make structural and procedural improvements in the context of change. You just have to do it.

 

When did you decide to explore a career in this area and why?

As a university graduate I graduated in Economics and wanted to move ahead, I was fascinated with the opportunities available working for large multinationals as an expatriate within the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. It turned out well. After working for several years abroad in South Africa, Argentina, and Russia, I settled again in Switzerland. The Finance function gives an opportunity to work for companies across business sectors. I have been very fortunate in having a strong network and being recommended for each of my roles.

What recruitment challenges do you face?

When we look at the last 12-18 months, the recruitment market for most profiles has changed. We’ve seen a significant improvement from a recruiter's perspective in Lucerne/Switzerland. We have now more well qualified applicants for job openings than we used to have. Lucerne is an attractive location and our company offers a number of well selected fringe benefits. The base salaries are average.
We advertise on the internet and not in print media any more. Sometimes we lose high potential candidates, because we can (due to our small size) not offer coherent career plans. On the other hand, successful applicants value the wide range of responsibilities and an international network to which they have quick access.

 

What was the worst / best interview experience you have had?

I always look forward to interviewing candidates. It’s an opportunity to meet interesting and motivated people. I enjoy the interaction, selling our company and myself as their new boss to them and finding the match between what I need and their wishes. Sometimes there is a fit, sometimes not. Our interview technique works as we have a low staff turnover, retaining them in average for 12 years.

 

Describe yourself in 3 words

Optimistic, ambitious, long-term oriented.

 

*Views and opinions contained within our Executive Interviews are those of the Interviewee and not views shared by EMEA Recruitment.*

 
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