Executive Interviews

Our Executive Interviews feature top leaders from across the disciplines that we specialise in, sharing their career advice and experience with candidates seeking success in those sectors.


Cyrill Schuler - Director - Logitech EMEA Finance

What do you love about Switzerland and why?

As a native Swiss, this is a wonderful question to answer. But I think the wonders of Switzerland are obvious to anyone who lives and works here. In business, I'd call out Switzerland's capacity for innovation, high quality products, and excellent education and management skills. Personally, I love skiing and mountain biking - we have breathtaking mountains and views.

What do you think are the major challenges that lie ahead for Switzerland's growth?

I do not intend to give the Federal government or its institutions advice on the economy, but I can share some of Logitech's recipe for growth. Our co-founder, Daniel Borel, says that "success is never final". He's so right. The day you succeed at something, you should move towards your next success. Logitech designs dozens of products every year in an industry full of competitors, many of whom are inspired by our innovation and follow quickly after. That means we can never be satisfied with our success. We need to move fast and innovate. Last fiscal year we grew three new businesses into our portfolio - mobile speakers, video collaboration products for small and medium sized businesses, and accessories for tablet computers. They contributed around $380 million dollars to our sales. This is a great example of the need to move fast, innovate and keep moving. Whatever the future for Switzerland's growth, I'm convinced we'll succeed.

How does your organization stand out from the market and your competitors?

I've already described Logitech's ability to move fast and innovate. That sounds easy, but for a global organisation with around 7000 employees, it's a daily challenge. We have a "small company" culture at Logitech to help keep us hungry and lean, like a start-up. As a start-up you have nothing to lose - decisions get made and you move fast. That's what we aim for, no matter how big we grow. Big companies can all too easily be slowed down by bureaucracy, hierarchy and the complacency of size. We work to being the same speed into our innovation machine - prototyping ideas and iterations of our products very rapidly in order to fail, learn and perfect them as quickly as possible. We have also recently integrated a culture of design into our product innovation machine, ensuring our product experiences reflect art as well as science.

What are your growth plans?

Over the past two years we've worked hard on our profitability - it has tripled over that time period. We're now accelerating our growth transformation. For the current fiscal year, our outlook is to achieve 7% growth in our retail business in constant currency.

What challenges await your business and how will you overcome them?

Like every business, we face innumerable challenges. The PC and iPad markets are currently in decline, the strong dollar creates headwinds for our sales. Nevertheless, we never expect to be doing business without challenges and believe our strategy to be the right one.

What excites you about working for Logitech?

I've touched upon the reasons already - small company culture, the speed of the business... It's a wonderfully fast and inspiring culture built on the back of a great team of people.

If you could give your younger self career advice, what would it be?

Keep on learning - the world is changing so fast, you have to keep looking at it with a new pair of eyes.

What do you feel makes an effective sparring partner?

Someone once said that strategy without numbers is poetry. Said differently, strategy without numbers is just words. The point is that great strategies yield great numbers, and that really is what I love in my job. In partnership with my business leads, we frame strategies that yield growth, margin and cash. To succeed you need to convert data into insights, and insights into actions and lead organizations to ultimately impact positively our business. Being in finance, numbers are definitely a form of ” professional poetry”? but above all leadership and impact is what counts.

What are your personal motivators?

To have fun a work - it's a large part of your life. I love that I don't know what a day will be made of. I also admit to specifically enjoying working for Logitech. There's something new every day and I work with people who truly believe they can change the world if they put their mind to it.

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

I better not admit that it was as early as 13 years old. Did I say that out loud?

How did you plan out your career path?

My first big job was with P&G - probably one of the best leadership ” academies”?. On-the-job experience and career progression there is a career plan in itself. That said, at the heart of a career, will always be a vision to achieve, a passion to pursue ... and the ability to identify the right opportunities.

What recruitment challenged do you face?

The idea some people have of Logitech is a Logitech from the traditional world of the PC. That's how we built our business. For the past two or three years, we've been reinventing ourselves. Our people, culture, product lines, leadership and brand are all very different, keeping the best of who we've always been. Every new candidate needs to be brought up to speed on this.

What attributes do you look for when choosing a recruitment partner?

The most important element in my opinion is a partner who takes the time to understand the company and role in order to identify the right profiles. EMEA Recruitment did just this - it took the necessary time rather than rushing in.

What advice would you give to future aspiring leaders or someone aspiring to be where you are now?

Branson is great, but there is not necessarily a need to be Branson to inspire. There are lots of talented people around you. If you learn from and emulate the best of them you're already on a good path. Also, it's important to learn that what you learn is often not what actually happens!


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

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Daniela Martin - Head of HR - Evraz

What do you love about Switzerland and why?

Its structure, location, security, humbleness

Despite the fact that Switzerland is one of the 5 most desired countries to live in in the world, its humbleness always surprises me. At the point of where I am in my life and career, I truly enjoy the clarity which is the result of this country’s clear structure and rules. It gives me and my family a great feeling of security, which in today’s world we live in has become a very important word.

What advice would you offer to someone moving to Switzerland?

I`d like to highlight that this is coming from a person who is an expat myself: my recommendation to someone moving to Switzerland is to be culturally aware, do your homework and prepare well – meaning to be informed about Switzerland 's cultural values, the mentality of Swiss people, the working culture, language -  to which extend possible. To be open to understand what makes Switzerland so Swiss! It will make the transition and adaptation in this country less challenging, plus it may open the door to numerous opportunities.

What excites you about working for Evraz?

The international environment and dynamic working culture, plenty of opportunities for me to learn and grow professionally as well as a person.

Being a sparring partner is a pre requisite for and HR/Finance Division – what do you feel makes an effective sparring partner?

Ensuring mutual understanding of common goals and needs from both sides. Being professional and competent in your own area of work, to be able to communicate your views and add important factors to influence management decisions.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your role?

The most rewarding part of my role I would say is recognizing that people rely on me as their trusting partner.

What recruitment challenges do you face?

Time - no enough time to recruite for a certain role,which takes away on the quality of selection process; not enough candidates available at the right time, with the right profile

What attributes do you look for when choosing a recruitment partner?

Someone willing to take time to understand the needs or requirements for the role, the fine details beyond the job description. Thorough pre-selection of the candidates and close contact throughout the recruitment process.

What would be your advice to someone aspiring to be where you are now?

Believe in yourself, always try to be excellent in whatever you do. Work hard, but nurture your personality and character along the way, because that is what makes you stand out. 


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


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Daniel Kellenberger - Group Finance Director - Veldhoven

As someone who has had over 27 years' experience within the Swiss market-place, how have you found the Swiss market & working environment has changed over these years?

I would say the changes came from the European Union, as Switzerland didn’t join the EU this had a big impact on our economy. Bilateral agreements were made resulting in pressure on the Swiss Market companies and industries to be more competitive, suddenly you had a group with demands and regulations that we were not part of but still we export to the EU with 60% going to the German market. We must be competitive on the price. Switzerland is a country which people will relocate to for work which gives us an excellent quality of employees, making CH more flexible which is key to surviving as an individual and company. As a company, currency is a worry, before Brexit the Swiss Bank froze its currency which gave pressure to export and import in turn adding to costs with the revenue of the company which in turn adds costs across the board.

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

The recession in 2008 definitely made an impact on the retail industry, from that we have learnt and are still learning how to recover and how to regain our status. Migration has grown as a direct result of the recession impacting on the workforce.

What advice would you offer to someone moving to Switzerland?

Be open to new experiences, as things will be different, Switzerland is an open country that embraces people. Do research and make yourself aware of the cost of living, this can come as a surprise to some who relocate. Make yourself aware of the language skills you will require also.

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

One challenge we had was to reduce costs. We were aware that 70% of our revenue was coming from Europe and we needed to balance this with ensuring staffing costs were met. We reviewed the efficiency of our staff and found that now staff are 20-30% more efficient. We have achieved this by hiring teams that work well together and not by just looking at a fashion background.

What excites you about working for Veldhoven?

The fashion industry it is a very dynamic sector to work in and Veldhoven is no exception. Being in the Finance department of this sector it is not always easy to predict retail forecasts, due to weather, economy and trend influences. The life time of a style is very short as this governed by the seasons, once the stock has been removed from the shops it will then go to an outlet which leads to larger amounts of stock. We pride ourselves on producing sophisticated products which means we hire skilled people, which makes for a very interesting workplace.

What are your personal motivators?

I personally get great satisfaction from following business processes, I also enjoy the social aspect of the fashion industry and the influences by our Dutch shareholders.

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

To be very honest I had a colleague who introduced me to someone in his network who knew of the position as Veldhoven. The fascination for me is how the products are made and being able to test them, I genuinely like fashion.

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

I believe that within the first 10 minutes of an interview you gain a good or bad feeling of that person, I don’t believe you need 2 hours. I like people that listen, and are direct with their answers. It is a lot to do with intuition, I believe in content, if I’m interviewing a controller I will cover their analysis, what is important to them, how they manage a business case and listen to their approach. Maybe offer half a day in the office to gain a clear insight into the business. Always check references, and communication skills. Team fit is everything.

Describe yourself in 3 words

straight, engaged, trustworthy


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

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Romain Raimann - Senior Manager Corporate Audit - Baxter International Inc

As someone who is interested in sports in general, what can Switzerland offer?

Due to its topography, Switzerland offers a wide change of outdoor opportunities. As you may be aware, we have a lot of lakes, rivers, mountains, forests and open areas that are all easily accessible due to their proximity from our main cities and the excellent transportation system that this country offers. In addition, the seasonal weather increases the variety of options that are available to all outdoor fans. Last but not least, I haven’t heard anyone complaining about some of the amazing landscapes that are definitely worth exploring!

What advice would you give to someone looking to move here at the current time?

First of all to ensure that the company has a medium/long term plan in place to keep its presence in Switzerland. As all other countries do, we are subject to economic and political factors/decisions that may justify reconsidering the needs to set up/keep local operations. However, Switzerland has been and remains a very attractive place to do business and invest in due to its stability, safety, know-how and qualitative workforce which will always be favourable elements. I would also mention to assess if the Swiss lifestyle is something that matches the expectations of people coming from abroad – We have a very high quality of life but are quite different from our neighbour countries. Finally I would definitely recommend learning the local language which will be an asset for the rest of your life.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

To make sure that you learn new skills or develop new ones every 6 months as part of your private and professional development and that you make a difference in your current role before moving too quickly to the next one. A career is something that should be built with patience and decisions should be taken considering the long run.

Who do you look at for sources of inspiration?

People and leaders that are able to balance their life (work life balance) and manage their time efficiently. By definition time is limited which makes it very precious. I always believed that we all beneficiate from being able to switch off from work regardless of how busy and how much responsibilities we have. With the development of technology and the endless increasing completion and pressure, we are all required to be more connected and flexible. Being able to add skills and perspective that come from our private life into our professional live is key. Similar to the previous question, this is something that will contribute to the long term success and stability.   

As someone who has lived in both the French & German speaking regions of Switzerland, what would you highlight as the main differences of the regions?

First of all the language…even if pretty much everybody speaks English in Switzerland! The mentality is also very different but this is not only dependent of the speaking region that you are in but if you live in a city or in the country side. In general, German speaking people seem to be more conservative. People’s habits are also different but this difference trends to decrease due to the fact that our main cities have a lot of expatiates. They both offer multiple job opportunities and a wide range of outdoor activities.


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

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Stefan Spiegel - CFO - SBB Cargo

If you could go back and give your younger (graduate) self some career advice, what would it be?

I originally studied Physics and Mathematics and at that time I didn’t know to become CFO at a company like SBB Cargo. To give advice from that point of view is therefore a little bit difficult, but what I see today is that there is not a specific CV or personality type in finance, there are always different pathways. The key is that everything you do, you should do it with enthusiasm, fun, passion and curiosity. When we are in discussions to promote a person within our company, we do not discuss whether this person has announced its aspiration, we discuss ‘what does the person do’, ‘what are the results the person has delivered' and ‘what is the standing this person has’. These are the points on which we can decide whether somebody should be promoted. 

What attributes do you think make a good leader in finance?

It is twofold, on the one hand you have compliance issues and you must be able to handle them with 100% accuracy. For example, internal controls, accounting standards and tax issues. You must be very precise, honest, exact and persistent. On the other hand, coming from a physics perspective where you describe nature using mathematical models, a good finance leader is capable to describe business with its financial models. Not only describing what is happening, but overtaking the role of a performance leader showing the way to profitability and growth. Here you need a holistic approach, creativity and analytical thinking, so quite different to compliance issues.

What are the most common mistakes you see more junior candidates make at interview and what advice would you give for preparation?

I am not sure ‘mistakes’ is the right word. I think it is all about preparation for the interview. So first a candidate should study the annual report of a company, he should understand the business and develop his ideas about the challenges of the company. Second the candidate should understand what he is looking for, how he likes to work and what he does not like to do. He should describe his idea of the job role and be able to define goals he would like to reach within this role. And last  everyone should be able to describe what he achieved in his previous roles and what was the impact he made on the company’s development. 

How important was it for you to develop relationships outside of finance for career development?

It is always good to have relationships, they usually help, not always, but could have potential. However, I always say that no-one would recommend you if you are not doing a good job, so this is the base requirement. 

What excites you about working for SBB Cargo?

First of all it is the business itself, logistics is like the blood of the economy, without logistics nothing moves! A big portion of well-known Swiss companies are clients of SBB Cargo and also within Europe. We have a very high level of competition, also competing against road. The logistics volumes react very quickly on economic switches, so the business is very fast paced and changes from month to month. Another point, from a strategic perspective, is, that if you look at rail freight the production of the business has been done the same way for the last 100 years. Actually, regarding for example developments of self-driving vehicles on the road we stand at the beginning of an innovation boost. So over the next 20-30 years the way that rail freight business is done must change fundamentally.  Being part of these changes is a very exciting perspective.

Second, concerning the finance function of the SBB, the possibilities to develop and follow your own ideas are very high. You are attached as a division in a big company, where we get the support of a big company, but often we can act like a mid-sized company and decide relatively independently as SBB Cargo. 

SBB Cargo saw its first two years in profit in 2013 & 2014.  What challenges await the business in 2015 and how do you hope to overcome them?

The company was for 40 years producing negative figures, but since 2013 we show positive results. Now the downturn of the Euro will hit the profitability of our business quite seriously. In addition, oil prices are also going down improving cost advantages of road trucks, and raffineries in Switzerland are shutting down reducing our freight volume. Certainly the start to 2015  could have been better! Fortunately we already have set up a good portion of efficiency and innovation programs, which are now becoming much more important than before. 

What do you find are the main challenges attracting finance talent to SBB and what do you see as the key selling points you can offer candidates?

If you join SBB you can get a very high level of variety and complexity. For example if you make investments in power plants or rail infrastructure you discuss over periods of 80 years or more. If you buy new rolling stock, such as the new trains for the intercity tracks, these are investments for the next 40 years. On the other hand at Cargo, we are deciding from week to week about new relations or closing down non-profitable ones – and all such decisions are depending on each other as the production processes are linked together.

Another point is that hierarchies are pretty flat and you can move within SBB very easily. So for example, if you are a younger finance talent you have the opportunity to gain experience across many different branches and finance functions in a short time: Real estate, energy, construction, industry production, transportation, retail, tourism and logistics.

For senior people that already have greater knowledge and experience, SBB offers a lot of transformation projects within the finance function across the whole company. This allows you to develop your ideas, to change processes in a significant way and to leave your footprint within one of the most regarded companies within Switzerland.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?

The success and impact we achieved with SBB Cargo. When you can change that much in a company and you can observe the success you have, then I believe this is the really rewarding aspect of the role. Besides, the actual role is very favourable concerning flexibility and self-determination.

Switzerland's economy showed limited growth in 2014, what do you think are the major challenges that lie ahead for Switzerland's growth?

Switzerland’s economy is very dependent on international relations. With the downturn of the Euro Swiss economy, mainly export industry, will even more be forced to follow the next level of efficiency programs. Automation, innovation, research towards products with high value-added will get more and more important to overcome the disadvanteges of high production costs. 

Looking back through your established career, what would you identify as a personal highlight?

The turnaround of SBB Cargo.A lot of people inside and outside thought that with this business model it would be impossible to get positive figures. But we not only managed the financial turnaround, at the same time we reduced our finance department by more than 30% to gain efficiencies, whilst introducing on a green field basis a fully new SAP ERP system. Due to the added workload and risks, normally you wouldn’t do such changes at the same time. To overcome such obstacles gives you a deep satisfaction.


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

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Cynzia Nardiello - CFO - Barry Callebaut Schweiz

Looking back through your established career, what would you identify as a personal highlight?

I have worked for very dynamic and multicultural companies so I am lucky to have had many highlights! When I was a Finance Manager for Alfa Romeo I was the only woman at the time working at this level in the business globally and I was also very young. It was a big challenge as I took over from someone who gave up after 3 months despite his experience, so I was asked to take on the role as they needed someone with personality. The position was in the UK and at the time I did not even speak the language! The role was a great success and I was later asked to become CFO for Mazerati.

My current position is also a big challenge, where we are really driving costs in production and purchasing. I had slowed down in my career and taken on the role as a mother, however, my young daughter is now 4 years old and last year I decided it was time to focus on my career again. An opening became available at Barry Callebaut due to a maternity leave and this has given me the chance to step up again.

If you could go back and give your younger (graduate) self some career advice, what would it be?

My advice to any graduate would be to gain international experience, seeing different countries and companies. It is a great opportunity to learn and gain respect for other cultures. It is important not to forget your individuality, but you need to be open minded. All of my highlights have been linked to international experiences, including projects I have been involved in in Russia and South America. This is really how you differentiate yourself.

What advice would you give to ambitious women who are aspiring to reach senior leadership roles?

My advice to anyone aspiring to senior leadership roles would be to never give up, but women need to make an extra effort. You really need to have belief!

When interviewing candidates at an earlier stage in their career what are the common mistakes you see and what advice would you give?

A lack of enthusiasm and preparation. I need to see ‘the drive’ in the person, why are they interested in the job or the company? There is sometimes a lack of direction and you are searching for the personality.

What are your personal motivators, particularly when working in a high pressure role?

My family is of course a strong motivator and also it helps that my husband is in a similar role, so his opinion is always important. We do not always speak about work, but if I have a concern they we can talk it through. I am a very motivated person anyway and I enjoy working, but it is important for your family that you are also satisfied.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your role?

Being able to support management and profitability, the numbers are always important! Providing financial support where you can see how this effects commercial decisions and drives the direction of the business is really rewarding.

You have worked for Barry Callebaut since the end of 2007, what excites you about working for the business?

I started in the company working in the cocoa division, so I saw the source of the raw material and now I am working in chocolate as the finished product. I love the product, and love working in a product orientated business. It is a seductive product and I consider myself really lucky to work here. Previously I had the opportunity to work in the automotive sector and this was also great for me as I love cars as well! I have only ever left companies in the past where I did not have a feeling for the product.

What do you think are the major challenges that lie ahead for Switzerland’s growth?

Switzerland needs to rethink its business model as the environment has changed and there is a need to reinvent to become more competitive and innovative. I believe that behind every problem there is a new opportunity.


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

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