As part of the connectUS 2023 edition, we launched our seminar in Switzerland on Monday, 13 February 2023. Throughout the five-day program, the attendees have the chance to network with business professionals, engage in group discussions, and take part in a variety of activities designed to enhance their skills and abilities.
Our seminar promises to be an interesting and insightful week filled with stimulating conversations, informative presentations and company visits. We are delighted to host several guest speakers who are leaders in their respective fields and will share their expertise with our delegation. These speakers will cover a range of topics, from sustainability and innovation to labor practices and management.
We are excited to share here with you all the details of this insightful program and how the seminar inspires the delegates to make a change today for a shared future.
The seminar started on Monday, 13.02.2023 with a joint introductory speech by the Director of the FHNW School of Business, Prof. Regula Altmann-Jöhl and Marco Blaser, CEO of Blaser Swisslube. Thanks to the exciting and inspiring speeches, the students’ understanding of sustainability and the importance of conscious thinking was stimulated right from the start.
After the plenary introduction, the connectUS delegation met to start the project-specific program. We started of the morning hearing from Michael Diaz, the principal consultant of Sustainable Finance at Q_Perior, about what sustainability in finance means and how it affects our daily lives. After a theoretical input, the participants were divided into two groups and debated the differences between ESG and the SDGs, which was then evaluated by the jury.
After a latin American themed lunch, the afternoon program continued. The delegates had the opportunity to listen to Katharina Mayer & Jürgen Ströhle from Bluesign about what sustainability means in the textile industry and the impact it has on the planet and people. Thanks to an interactive contribution from the students, a very inspiring discussion took place between the experts and the delegates. To conclude the first day Danielle Blomert and Carole Mislin from Archroma explained in an exciting presentation what “The Archroma Way to a Sustainable World” means and how this can be implemented in the clothing and chemical industry.
After an intensive and informative first day, the second day started with an inspiring presentation by Anabel Wörner from ClimatePartner. She explained how to enable companies to take climate action to improve lives globally.
Anabel explained how ClimatePartner assists its clients in calculating and setting reduction targets and implementing measures to reduce carbon emissions and offset residual emissions.
Afterwards, the delegates were able to get new insights into presentation skills during a lively and very entertaining workshop with Christian Gmür, chairperson of the Corporate Culture Committee at Leonteq. After an initial theoretical input from Christian, the participants were able to assert themselves in short, improvised presentations and then receive feedback from the expert.
One highlight followed the next, and so after a tasty lunch we continued with a particularly interesting lecture by the Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Eric Smith. During the session, a thrilling and proactive discussion took place during which many contributions were made by all participants. Among many others, the topics included the economic and cultural ties between America and Switzerland, as well as current geopolitical issues.
The last program of the day was yet another highlight. Under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Nikolina Fudric, the students had the opportunity to creatively present their own sustainable future visions using “Lego Serious Play”. The workshop was a great opportunity for the delegates to get to know each other even better and to create inspiring future visions and concrete solution approaches.
Already halfway through the week, we started on Wednesday with the two speakers Jade McLachlan from Believe and Daniel Wyss from The Rocket Foundation. Jade told us a lot about BELIEVE and how she and her company help other people through workshops on the topics of sustainability, environment, climate education, circular economy, and sustainable & impact investing to create a better future for our planet. Generally, BELIEVE is an independent Swiss advisory firm which focuses on Sustainability Consulting, Climate Education and Impact Investments.
Following this, we were able to learn from Daniel Wyss from The Rocket Foundation how they fund sustainable projects and start-ups with the help of financing from their foundation. Furthermore, we learned about best practice examples of social start-ups which were funded by Rocket Foundation which already created positive change in the world. Daniel and his team put great emphasis on selecting the right projects to leave a better world by supporting underserved communities and individuals and by protecting the environment.
Both, Jade and Daniel, made it very clear that financial investments and sustainability can go hand in hand and create lasting solutions for a better future. The presentations were followed by a workshop in which we discussed the impact of fashion and consumption on waste and how to reduce waste.
The afternoon program started with a presentation by Dr. Rico Travella from Alternative Bank Switzerland. Not like most traditional banks that pursue mainly economic interests, the ABS focuses on business activities dedicated to promoting the common good, humanity and the natural world. Dr. Travella’s very inspiring presentation showed how ABS, as a socially and environmentally responsible bank, is “different from others” in that it does not focus on profit maximization but is consistently guided by its ethical principles.
The final highlight of the day was the online presentation by Nadja Scherrer, who joined us directly from Miami. After working for Apple in Silicon Valley, she decided to take a leap of faith and follow her purposeful dream: she bought a stake in the advertising agency plus305 and helped it convert to Social Impact. Through the very rich and insightful presentation, Nadja with her vast experience in intercultural proficiency was able to pass on many valuable tips and ideas to the whole delegation for our upcoming seminar abroad.
On the fourth day of our seminar, we had the opportunity to visit the Umweltarena, which is a unique exhibition center that focuses on promoting sustainable living by showcasing innovative solutions for sustainable living and the importance of environmental conservation. The delegation was given a guided tour of the arena, and we learned about various exhibits that promote sustainable living.
The Umweltarena building itself is impressive, featuring several innovative technologies that reduce its environmental footprint. The building is powered by renewable energy, and its unique design blends cutting-edge architecture with nature-inspired features. As we entered the arena, we were struck by the distinctive and innovative design of the building.
Our tour began with an introduction to the various exhibits, which covered topics like sustainable housing, energy-efficient appliances, eco-friendly transportation options, and urban agriculture. The exhibitions were interactive, allowing us to experience sustainable living firsthand. For instance, the indoor farm exhibition showed how urban agriculture can be used to promote sustainable food production.
Throughout the tour, our guide emphasized the importance of environmental conservation and sustainable living. We learned about the need to reduce our carbon footprint, the benefits of renewable energy, and how we can make more sustainable choices in our daily lives.
In the afternoon we had the pleasure of visiting Leonteq’s headquarters in Zurich, a Swiss fintech company that specializes in structured investment solutions. We were given an introductory presentation about Leonteq’s sustainability approach and then had the opportunity to explore the different departments, including the trading desk. The day ended with an insightful final presentation by Sandro Dorigo, Head of Business Development and founding partner, who shared valuable insights about the foundation of Leonteq.
Our visit to Leonteq was a unique opportunity to learn more about the company’s commitment to sustainability, which is an important focus for Leonteq. We were impressed by Leonteq’s efforts to integrate sustainability into all aspects of its operations, from its investment solutions to its partnerships with clients and suppliers.
As we explored the different departments at Leonteq, we were able to see the company’s innovative trading desk in action. This experience helped us gain a better understanding of how Leonteq’s technology-driven solutions are helping to reshape the financial landscape.
The day’s events concluded with an inspiring final presentation by Sandro Dorigo, who provided valuable perspectives on the foundation of Leonteq and the company’s approach to fintech. As one of the founding partners of Leonteq, Dorigo offered insights into the company’s history and vision for the future.
Overall, our visit to Leonteq was a truly enriching experience that gave us valuable insights into sustainability, fintech innovations, and responsible business practices. We left with a greater appreciation for Leonteq’s commitment to sustainability and its innovative solutions, and a deeper understanding of the evolving financial landscape in Switzerland and beyond.
Hard to believe but meanwhile, the last day of this intensive week has already arrived. Most of the program on Friday was carried out together with all five international student projects. In the morning, the focus was on the Career Fair at the Olten campus. First, the sponsors of the student projects (for connectUS: careerplus, KPMG, and Pfister) all briefly introduced themselves in the plenum and then invited the students to their booths for speed interviews and additional information on job openings. In addition, the delegates had the opportunity to sign up for a CV check to optimally prepare themselves for their upcoming job search.
In the afternoon a panel discussion on the topic of Energy & Economy took place. Under the guidance of the moderator Franz Barjak (professor of Empirical Social and Economic Research at the FHNW) a very engaging exchange with the panelists Michael Schmid (Swiss Gas Industry Association), Stanley Ford (Endress + Hauser), Hervé Lohr (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs) and Rolf Schmid (Alpiq) took place.
After all the students’ questions to the panelists had been answered, and after a short break, it was time for the keynote speech by André Dosé, Vice Chairman of the board at Transitgas AG. During his detailed and interesting speech, he highlighted many topics and explanations about the current energy crisis. After the closing speech of Prof. Antje Leukens (FHNW) and the acknowledgment of the organizers of this successful seminar in Switzerland, the week was closed with a joint apero.