October 2018 – Switzerland Chapter Event

Driving the Advancement of Women in Switzerland:

‘The Case for Change’

On October 30th, the second LEAD Network Switzerland Chapter networking event took place in Zürich, hosted by Mondelēz International.


Caroline Basyn, SVP, CIO & Global Services at Mondelēz International and Chair of the LEAD Network Switzerland Chapter, welcomed 260 passionate women and men from large and small companies from all over Switzerland.

Sharon Jeske, Executive Director of the LEAD Network, congratulated the Swiss chapter committee with the largest attendance of any chapter event yet…! The Swiss Chapter is now the third-largest in the LEAD Network with 540 members (up from 120 a year ago).

Marie Barnard, President Chocolate Europe at Mondelēz International, gave an inspiring keynote speech. She shared experiences from her international career and the tough choices she had to make, for example not to miss important family events. She offered two pieces of advice: 1) To women: write an ambitious career plan, 2) To men: Take time to understand what women need and the barriers they have to overcome to advance.

Sarah Kreienbühl, HR Officer of Switzerland’s largest retailer and employer Migros, shared her view on Diversity & Inclusion in an interview with Caroline Basyn. To her, D&I is not just an initiative but needs to be an integrated approach, a mindset, supported by top management and the Board and it should be made visible through role models throughout the organisation.

Karolina Cardoso (EY) and Piret Kusche (PepsiCo) presented the three pillars and the concrete programmes and action plans for the Chapter in 2019. The pillars:


  1. The Manager – Build a friendly ecosystem to enable the advancement of women in their companies
  2. My Career – Help women build confidence in themselves and to own their careers
  3. The Industry – Build and leverage a network for career opportunities across the industry

A panel discussion led by Deborah Croft, co-founder and Managing Partner of ‘Thriving Talent’, featured senior, diverse and competent supporters of diversity: Astrid Teckentrup, VP Sales Germany, Austria, Switzerland at P&G; David Souperbiet, SVP HR Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa at PepsiCo; Simone Strebler, Consultant at Egon Zehnder; Jürgen Leisse, President Central Europe & EU Central Sales at Mondelēz International; and Sandra Kottenauer, Chief Digital & Marketing Officer at Manor (and on the LEAD Network Switzerland Steering Committee).

Key discussion points and quotes:

–        Women and men need to learn better how to communicate about needs, barriers and expectations. A frank and open dialogue is important with oneself, one’s family, and one’s employer.

–        All panel members mentioned mentors and role models as key to success. Try to be a role model and inspire others to follow: this applies to women and to men.

–        Key to Inclusion is to understand the individual and then to build a specific plan to support her or him.

–        Take planning your career in your own hands. Women are excellent in planning work and family life so why not in planning their professional careers?

–        Show more self-confidence and dare to go for opportunities.

–        It’s not about the numbers but about creating an ecosystem that encourages Diversity.  We should think beyond gender; only a truly diverse workforce will create the best results.

–        Be honest with yourself and your manager on how far you are ready to go in your career. Discuss the expectations and responsibilities of top managers; for example, working 60% may not be possible.

After the panel discussion and Q&A, many members took the opportunity to network  while enjoying the food and beverages provided.

Finally, some reactions from participants: “Inspiring speakers with high authenticity”, “Great energy in the room and the entire event”, “Lots of possibilities to meet and talk”, “Helps me definitely in my job and life”.

We thank our kind host Mondelēz International for their fantastic hospitality. We would like to thank all LEAD Network members for their engagement during this event. We are looking forward to seeing you at our next event.


All the very best to everyone,

Frank Offermanns (Corporate Sales Director Switzerland at Nestlé S.A.) on behalf of the LEAD Network Switzerland Chapter Steering Team