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SEMinar in Switzerland

Connectus 2022

In our Seminar in Switzerland our delegation members went on a journey to our Vision Zero. We had inspiring speeches, insightful workshops and open hope-infusing company visits. We were impressed how all guests applied Vision Zero and how current the topic truly is. The week went very fast but we trust that the experiences and learnings shape great leaders of tomorrow among us. To create a feel and cater you a glimpse of the week, we joined the Instagram Reel Challenge Recap21. Buckle up and enjoy our reel as well as more detailed daily coverage on our blog.

– DAY ONE – 


After weeks of preparing, beads of sweat and uncertainty if we can hold the Seminar in Switzerland on-site, we finally kicked off the week! The first day started with a speech by Prof. Dr. Regula Altmann-Jöhl and our Joint Platinum Partner BLASER SWISSLUBE. It was time for a connectUS gathering. To pave the way for long-term collaboration, manifest our expectations and contributions and to learn each other’s names, we showcased our talent for beanbags and paper airplanes – or at least tried to 😉

In the following blogpost we, Tamara and Marc, are supported by our delegates Sandra and Simon. Many thanks to you two. 

In the morning, our first guest speaker Prof. Dr. Peter Abplanalp, an expert of strategic management, adducted us into the world of shared valuesWe grasped that corporate thinking has evolved and that the very nature of business competition is shifting. Companies work to address social and economic needs through profitable business models, thereby creating shared value.

«Shared Value» describes a new concept for business strategies centring about the questions of the social responsibility of companies and if money is the adequate measure for capital. Prof. Dr. Peter Abplanalp amplified the model of shared value which was elaborated by Michael E. Porter and Mark Kramer. The concept of shared value creation (CSV) has its focus on the expansion of the connection between societal and economic progress. Creating shared value describes the integration of social development in the economic value chain of a company and also offers the opportunity to differentiate the value proposition from competitors.

The role of enterprises in society has changed from the philanthropy approach to corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the past.

Before, companies just ignored problems. Later on, they acknowledged problems, allocated some money to them and the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was invented. But CSR was more a way of improving corporate reputation than making a real difference. A few years ago, companies tried to solve the problems, but mainly by adding costs to fix them, or just by reporting it. Today, companies are trying to find ways to create shared values by the integration of social development in the economic value chain.

Following a delicious lunch themed ASEAN, we were all a bit sleepy. Thanks to Dr. Urs Karl Egger, who has waken us up with a small mobility exercise. The afternoon was dedicated to the importance of conscious leadership for a sustainable future. Thanks to Prof. Dr. Nikolina Fuduric, we gained and understanding on how to be part of “the good news”: by looking at what you know (know-set) and who you are in (mind-set). And most importantly – by focusing on the essential things like friendship, health and gratitude. 

Urs gave us an understanding on journaling – taking sometime daily or at least weekly to reflect what is going. What do you think, feel, and sense? We also took exercises for body awareness and centering practices with us. 

To close the day, the delegation members as well as context students participated in the daily Reflection Lounge.

– DAY TWO – 


On Tuesday, we had it all. From a start-up over a climate action company to a sustainable bank and large cooperation. All of them striving and acting in thorough, inspiring and hands-on manner for a better tomorrow. In this blogpost we, Tamara and Marc, are supported by our delegates Céline, Noelle, Jonas and Luka. Many thanks to you all. 

First, we were discussing about banks, value-based banking and what desirable banks for the future should look like. Michael Diaz showed us how a sustainable bank, such as Alternative Bank Schweiz, already does business sustainably and then lead us through a workshop. In the workshop, we took several perspectives in answering how a bank could transform to one for the future. The delegation did an amazing job in grasping the different perspectives — client, bank, regulators, NGOs — presenting them and laying the base for discussions with Michael. All in all, a great start into the day with lots of food for thought and hopefulness, because Alternative Bank Schweiz, with their impact investment and business practices, hit climate goals of 2050 today. 

Going from impact investing to actual projects that create change locally, we were introduced to Mr. Green Africa by Karim Debabe. Mr. Green Africa is a start-up based in Nairobi, Kenya. Karim and his co-founder Keiran Smith, started the company with their manpower and two laptops in 2014. The concept was to solve the global plastic issue, which was and still is heavily talked about. Since then, they implemented the circular economy by following their purpose from “WASTE TO VALUE”. Karim guided us through challenges and their paramount milestones. Major milestones include the collected plastic reaching the standards of FMCG companies and using it for new plastic products — creating a circular supply chain and proving the concept. Another milestone was cooperations, such as Unilever and Total, becoming partners to drive the project further. We can‘t wait to see where the project, that creates local wealth, fair and decent working conditions, and lives core values such as inclusivity of all — even business that is copying them — will grow into. 

Being some kind of blown away by the morning, a workshop with PwC awaited us in the afternoon.  Successful auditing firms may evoke images of men in suits flying to New York for dinner in the morning, only to fly back in the evening to drive their expensive car home to their mansions. Contrary to popular belief, such big firms place more and more value on sustainable behavior within the organization. In line with this, wider shift and as a frontrunner in it, PwC has concrete plans to become carbon neutral by 2030. Jasmin Khalifa, Head of Corporate Responsibility, and Stephanie Janoska, Corporate Responsibility Senior Consultant at PwC, have led a workshop about how they plan on achieving this goal. But how do you go about facilitating this change? The delegation was given the opportunity to try themselves to come up with ideas and strategies, and then present said ideas to the two experts in the room. The delegates said it was a daunting at first but a very fun and insightful activity. Through this engagement it was possible to really connect with PwC’s vision, the aspects of change management, as well as our Vision Zero. It’s the structured, pragmatic and reality-based approach that sold us, which will help PwC eventually get to zero egoism or how they put it: Hear it. Believe it. Live it. Celebrate it. 

Building on the workshop and what we learnt in the morning, we sat down with Vanessa Müller from ClimatePartner. ClimatePartner’s mission is to act to preserve the climate, achieve SDGs, enable the worlds companies to comply with the Paris Agreement and foster change for a better tomorrow. Thus, Vanessa and her colleagues help companies to reduce their carbon footprint of their total supply chain. In thorough manner, the primary action is to make the companies footprint measurable. For this, the data of the company is gathered and the footprint then calculated following the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. These calculations build the backbone for the recommendation of actions the client can take to reduce his emissions, and simultaneously reduce the waste and usage of resources — ClimatePartners true craft. But that’s not all, one huge area of their job is also to build awareness on these topics. Vanessa presented the academy-service, where internal and external stakeholders get educated on relevant climate topics and best practices. We agree with Vanessa, that this presents build the ground of a climate neutral business model. Because a fundamental rethinking must be established to achieve sustainably and long-term carbon footprint reduction and a “Net Zero” emissions. We hope the demand for ClimatePartner rises even steeper and ClimatePartner can push and enable the change even more. 



Half time! On day three we were focusing on building bridges to bring teams to work and on what we can do, to achieve equality. In this blogpost we, Tamara and Marc, are supported by our delegates Dafina and Daniela. Many thanks to you two.  

In the morning, we started with an online keynote on sustainable relationships by Kristina Kiener and Ulf Steinberg from Manres. Manres is a Swiss company that found its passion in supporting companies and their cultural transformation processes and development.

Building sustainable relationships is not only crucial for our private surroundings, but as well for building well-functioning teams and business networks within organizations. It builds the basis for trust and effective communication. According to Manres, to be able to build sustainable relationships there are three important characteristics, which enable us to build long-lasting relationships and networks: Empathy, Authenticity and Esteem (EAE concept).

Empathy means to understand the other party and make them understand ourselves equally (mirroring). Authenticity implies to actually “walk the talk” and to act as true to our inner self as possible. Esteem is to be understand to deal with respect for ourselves and for our partners, clients, supervisors, and co-workers. This is especially important in triggering situations and under high pressure. The three components are multiplied with each other; if only one of them is lacking, it is nearly impossible to build bridges and relationships that last. Companies and individuals should try to reach a good balance between these three components. 


These components can easily relate to “Zero Empty Promises”, which goes hand in hand with trust. If the base of a relationship isn’t built well, its continuation may be complicated and endangered. We need to act and communicate transparently. If relationships and discussions do not work as planned, it is most likely not only because of our dialogue partner, but rather because of ourselves. In combination with empathy and esteem, we can bring up for our respondent. Moreover, we might not have acted authentic in regards to our own interests.

In the afternoon, Eugenia Bajet Mestre from the HSG Competence, took a deep dive with us into the new era of inclusion and diversity. After trawling through key definitions and data from different countries, we stumbled upon the “maybe baby” bias. Eugenia explained this bias as a concept, wherein managers assume women of child-bearing age will have a child in the future and thus ascribe more risk to childfree women. This is ultimately reflected in more precarious employment decisions (e.g., offering shorter, more temporary job contracts to female applicants expected to become parents). Together we elaborated what we, as an organization, leaders and co-workers, can do to achieve equality.

At 17:00 we called it a day and enjoyed a delicious ice cream by our in-kind sponsor “Kalte Lust“.



On Thursday morning we changed the setting and visited our Platinum Partner EBL in Liestal. We were warmly welcomed by Raina Vogel, HR Business Partner and Responsible Apprenticeship Training and Trainee Programme, and the the two trainees and former FHNW students Laura Krabbe and Florian Sennhauser. Matching our slogan “change today for a better tomorrow”, EBL is currently building a new HQ and thus we met in at a school nearby.

After a short introduction, Betrand Schutz, Head of New Business Development, gave us an understanding of LibattionThe start-up company Libattion focuses on incorporating cells from e-mobility lithium batteries into its second-life cycle system and developing them further. This creates a sustainable battery value chain that reduces CO₂. EBL participates strategically as well as main investor in this innovative start-up.


The resource shortage around the globe must be successfully addressed and a sustainable production process is key to achieve the survival of our planet. Thus, the efficient use of resources in production, life and end of life offers a vision of Zero Waste of Resources.

As electric vehicles are booming, tons of lithium batteries come for recycling every year, although they are still reusable. Additionally, lithium batteries are expensive and represent a major investment upfront. Libattium addresses these problems by developing more sustainable and effective lithium batteries. Benefits of their products include amongst others: improved unique cell balancing that improves cycle life by 30%, 20% lower total life cycle costs and upcycled high power cells are more sustainable.

After the input session about Libattium, Norbert Bäckert, Head of Grid Management, presented EBL on the basis of Vision Zero. It was an very interactive session and we got an insight on what EBL is working on, their initiatives in the topic of renewable energy (as for example the EBL Wind Invest AG of the Wasserkraftwerk Obermatt) and what challenges they face (as for example that wind, solar and hydro depend on natural resources and are thus volatile).


After lunch, we participated in the Virtual Design Thinking Workshop by Deloitte and learned about the double diamonds. Design thinking approaches a problem to be solved from the opposite direction typically taken by analysts. It begins by imagining a solution that does not yet exist, and outlines a pathway to realize it — instead of beginning with an assessment of today’s problems and seeking corrections to them.

A huge thanks to Giada Polini, Biancamaria Tedesco, Thorben Pfeil, Lisa Peter and Salome Servello for sharing their knowledge.!



To end this blog, we want to keep things simple. The last day was held jointly by all international student projects and dedicated to connecting and networking with partners. Companies presented themselves and held speed interviews with delegates and project members. In the afternoon we had the honour to listen to a speech by Mr. Hervé Lohr, Deputy Head Bilateral Economic Relations and Head Americas at State Secretariat for Economic Affairs  International Relations, on the question “How can Switzerland respond to the challenges of a polarizing world?”. We successfully closed the Seminar in Switzerland with a joint Apéro. The pictures speak for themselves – we definitely had a blast!