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.

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Sarah Stary - Head of HR Europe & Africa - Trina Solar

What excites you about working for Trina Solar?

When I joined Trina, we were a fairly small team of only 10 people spread across Europe, and only 6 in Zurich.

My main challenge was to recruit the team that we are now which is close to 100 people. What excited me from the beginning as it still does after 5 years is that we have been able to attract a lot of talent outside of different countries. We have a very international team, In Switzerland we have created a very versatile and international team which is passionate about what they do. That for me is a personal achievement and an environment that I enjoy and that I thrive in, in addition, we are in daily contact with our colleagues at our HQ in China. Communication can sometimes be challenging but it has been a great learning curve. Our colleagues in China have travelled here and have learned about our culture in Europe, and we have travelled to China and learned how processes work over there. This I feel has been a real win win.

What advice would you offer to someone moving to Switzerland?

It depends on where they come from. To acquaint yourself with permit regulations is helpful and when you are coming from a country that is outside of the Schengen region, to read up on how difficult it can be to obtain a permit, as we sometimes have applications from candidates with US nationality for instance and it is very tricky for us to obtain a permit for them.

In general it is also important to read up on the cost of living, because some candidates we interview tend not to do that right away. This is very important for salary negotiations, in order for you to prepare yourself and understand what you can actually ask for, and what you will need to make a decent living. It is true that Switzerland tends to be more expensive than many other countries out there in Europe.

What recruitment challenges do you face?

This depends on the role, what we tend to struggle with is to recruit people who have an International mind-set and can deal with a very dynamic and sometimes volatile environment, and stay on board because it can be stressful. In that way I say we are perhaps unique, we are certainly not a standard Swiss company. Some people enjoy this type of environment. Identifying whether the candidate is a fit doing the interview process is essential.  Profiles that require certain language capability such as German, English and Spanish coupled with a technical background for example engineering are the types of roles we struggle with the most, the more languages that are required the more we struggle.

What advice would you give to future aspiring leaders, and why?

I would say that first of all it is important to have an idea of where you want to go in your career and envision it. Many things can go sideways and perhaps decide to pursue a different career later on, and none of that is right or wrong. But to have a plan or at least an idea of what you are doing and why you are doing it is important. At least this is what helped me; to have an idea of where I was going. It motivated me to work hard.

Also getting international exposure is important, this is key for anyone who aspires to be a leader, even a short stint perhaps in Asia or US can help. Any country that offers you international exposure, makes you broaden your horizon, this I feel is good even if you don’t see yourself living or working there long term, just that experience alone helps a lot. To be able to see and experience something new can help open your mind-set and is essential in developing.  For example at Trina, we transfer staff on temporary assignments to China for one month, which is great for the company and helps our staff in becoming more rounded.

Lastly Education is important even if you have completed your Bachelor and perhaps a Master’s degree in the area you are working in, consider an MBA, and consider training. This is something we promote; we have started sending staff to Business School and Executive trainings. Employees feel and see the company is investing in them, but also they go back to learning something new. When you have been in a career for some time, having to do that can be a challenge. Putting yourself in a new situation, speaking to different people not necessarily your colleagues, it is a good stimulus. Employees come back with fresh ideas and broadened mind-sets. I believe training promotes thinking outside of the box and to make me work. Next have an idea of where you are starting and this helped me to start ha

Who is your most inspirational person in business and why?

There are many, but one that is obviously much discussed as a great role model for Women is Marissa Mayer. What she has done in terms of having a family and being in charge of Yahoo is very impressive. I know there is some controversy surrounding her and it is legitimate to ask whether it is easier for her as she can finance a Nanny, where an ordinary working mother might not. I get the point but still I think it is so important for women in business to have a role model who they can relate to. To discuss accomplished business women; even in a controversial context, is a good thing, as they are out there and visible. I don’t necessary agree with everything Marissa has done, and she still has to prove herself, but woman like her make it easier for career woman with families to be accepted in what is still all too often a Man’s world.

Describe yourself in 3 words

Energetic, Curious, Goal orientated

 

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

 

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Marcel Hagmann - Fundraising / Marketing Director - Amnesty International

Marcel has been working in the NGO sector for 28 years and is the Fundraising/Marketing Director of Amnesty International. In his spare time Marcel enjoys mountain biking and skiing and ran in 7 marathons. He has also played Tennis at an International level. To relax he enjoys jazz and gourmet foods.

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

I first studied Theology and worked within a church for 5 years providing advice to others. This led me to want to help  more people that are disadvantaged and I wanted to become more of a direct influence.

Most rewarding part of your role?

Seeing the success from a project within a local community through leadership. Also working with like-minded people within my development role, this is of course a very interesting scope of work.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? (work and personal)

Work – In 2002 I was heading the "Jimmy Carter Work Project" and we managed to build 100 houses with seven thousand volunteers. We had 5 Presidents assisting us and a Jimmy Carter was there every morning from 7am lending a hand!

Personal – I think that's still to come!   

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

Not to expect to take shortcuts, studying does help but immerse yourself within the people and learn from them. Courage is key and not to be led by those more opinionated be courageous and make your own decisions.   

What are your internal drivers and why?

I always think it's my understanding of justice and injustice, even from an early age I was more interested in becoming friends with the more multicultural kids!

Who is your most inspirational person in business and why?

I don't have one person in business but am always inspired when people think of innovate ideas and make things happen regardless of sector.

Why are you excited to be working for Amnesty International?

I have always been impressed with the Amnesty brand, Amnesty have great access to public figures which opens doors which motivates me. Because Amnesty work more on policy, advocacy and lobbying this has a bigger impact for change.  

What books / blogs are you currently reading?

I read articles from local communities on projects we're working with and LinkedIn is great for Fundraising updates and news. I prefer up to the minute information and interactive knowledge.

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

Strategically we are trying to increase our global presence as power and problems are shifting worldwide all the time. Fundraising in Switzerland is saturated, it's always a challenge to retain supporters/donors and to ensure that we don't just gain their support for one cause but become lifelong members of Amnesty.

What has been your worst / best interview experience?

Best interview I've conducted was meeting a candidate who was so good, I offered them another role that was still in signoff stage, this candidate was excellent and we just couldn't pass up the opportunity of not having him on the team. It was a little risky but saved us time and money on the recruitment stage of that role.

 

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

 

 

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Martina Moritz - Poyry Switzerland - Head of HR, Alpine Region & Middle East

What do you love about Switzerland and why?

I love Switzerland, as it feels like it is the whole world in a miniature version. Within a small radius you can experience both sky scrapers and mountains. A huge variety which makes life very exciting and interesting. In addition, I like the structured and organised way of the Swiss and the efficiency, as well as the influence of so many nationalities and variances.

What advice would you offer to someone moving to Switzerland?

Learning German, but to also respect the Swiss Culture and Swiss languages, and to be open and curious about the culture and all its special nuances.

What excites you about working forPöyry Switzerland Ltd?

I am excited about the engagement of our employees for their projects, and how proud they are about their results, as these are highly tangible and long lasting results. They are contributing personally to the vital infrastructures across the world (e.g. Gotthard Base Tunnel).

I am proud of working forPöyry because of its focus on sustainable projects, providing infrastructure and energy to millions of people across Switzerland and the globe.

How did you plan out your career development path?

To be honest with you I had no plans for my career path, however when reflecting back I realise how important it was for me to be open to opportunities, even if I had never thought about going in certain directions. It was also important to trust my managers’ assessment of my personal capabilities and potential.

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

As the Head of HR for several countries, I have a pivotal influence in management decisions, which shape the way of working, and the culture of the company in the various countries. Having this impact is hugely rewarding as is the feedback in contributing to a better working environment.

What advice would you give to future aspiring leaders, and why?

Our companies need leaders with a high level of intellect and open heart, this means being perpetual, and curious about individuals with different personalities. My advice to future leaders would be to add to their studies, the ability to reflect and to communicate on a personal level with others.

 

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

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