A Taste of "Owning Your Career Trajectory"

Review of HBA Zurich – Zug event at Page Executive 

30 January 2020

We are all familiar with that gratified feeling after a scrumptious meal – all smiles, a nice lingering aftertaste and a belly full of goodness. That was the same feeling the audience carried home after the recent HBA Zurich – Zug event with Page Executive last night. 

Instead of dishes of well-prepared food, the panelists continually served platter after platter of interesting insights, considered observations and funny anecdotes. The moderators conducted the evening with impeccable pace and left the audience craving for more. 

The event kicked off with a welcome to the full-house by Corinne Stupp, the outgoing programming director of HBA Zurich – Zug who made the point that gender parity can often start with recruitment, thus paving a great handover for Louise Duerr, partner at Page Executive Zurich to briefly describe her career trajectory and Page Executive’s already progressive role in promoting and encouraging diversity. Nicole Formica-Schiller, the VP of HBA Zurich – Zug proceeded to share the respective activities of the HBA and the chapter. 

Then metaphorical feasting began. 

Isabel Kalofonos, VP and franchise lead at Takeda, amongst many other topics, talked about navigating between start-up approach and established corporate systems, her observations of different working cultures and stories about her experience and response to gender bias. She left no doubt that it is possible to balance between the sweet and the sour. 

Olivia Zollinger, CEO of Swiss Healthcare Startups, described with great enthusiasm the tenacity needed during her employment search some time ago, coupled with having to overcome cultural stereotypes in a foreign country and how she eventually got to where she is today. She also shared many bite-sized tidbits of funny moments with the audience about handling prickly colleagues in the past. 

Jürg Wiedler, managing director of Phillips Medisize Switzerland, served up optimistic learnings from being part of four different corporate changeovers during one tenureship. Throughout the session, he demonstrated that the complexity that surrounds our professional lives is a sophisticated taste often worth savoring. 

The moderators, Louise Duerr, partner at Page Executive, and Sean Yap, director of marketing and communications at HBA Zurich – Zug, helped the panelists plate up their stories with rhythmic ease. 

Many arms were raised high with visibly outstretched fingers the moment the moderators turned towards the audience for questions. Like enthusiastic diners at the sight of chefs emerging from behind the kitchen, there were ‘how was it made’ - type questions, (“How did you cope during that time?”), as well as ‘how would I do this at home’-type queries (“What is your advice about professional mobility”). There was not one moment that the moderators had to ask for more questions from the audience. 

In the vast menu of discussion that covered the importance of mentorship, the ability to be agile and adaptable, resilience for the unexpected, the most impactful ones had ‘passion’ as the core ingredient. This often overused seldom understood term was clear to the audience – in the context of overcoming hardships, “moderating how you react to the moment”, “assessing how do you get up again after you’re down” – in the context of retrospect, “life begins when you’re outside your comfort zone”, “career is an investment”. Although these came from different career trajectories, they all resonated with the audience, evidenced by the number of nodding heads. 

The remarkable feeling about this evening was that all the discussions were served warm, straight from the human heart. The one that really stood out amongst other equally formidable thoughts was that one should not always expect to win. Career journeys are never linear but our compass in the form of our convictions will often get us to a satisfying place. 

The learning from the HBA from this event is that food that fills the belly satisfies the day, food that fills the heart satisfies forever. Certainly, the audience and panelists alike walked away into the cold Zurich evening after the post-event drinks cozily nourished with newfound confidence and energetic reassurance. 

Keep a lookout for more events from HBA Zurich – Zug on the website

Written by Sean Yap, director-at-large, marketing and communications, HBA Zurich – Zug

A panel in action

Olivia describing a fine point.

Louise and Jürg sharing a light moment. 

Isabel making a challenging situation sound fun. 

Sean trying to show a skeptical Isabel this clap (no, not really...).

The speakers of the evening. 

Groups audience: