Twelve Surprising Facts about Switzerland Did you know ...?

I recently made a small informal and amusing survey: I asked about twenty foreign business people stationed in the Greater Geneva Berne area what impressed them the most about our region. Here are their impromptu answers.

1. The best universities and schools are public and virtually free of charge. Naturally, the children of Swiss ministers and of Swiss top executives attend these schools.

2. Swiss children go to school unaccompanied. Their parents do not worry about their safety.

3. Many Swiss top executives and even ministers do not hold university degrees. Instead, they took advantage of the so-called Swiss dual educational system.

4. The number of foreigners holding key positions in large Swiss companies is amazingly high. In addition, up to 45% of professors in Swiss universities are foreigners.

5. Many famous Swiss companies were created by foreigners: Nestlé, ABB, Rolex, to name just a few.

6. Through the Swiss political system of referendums and initiatives, the people really have the last word, even for very complex matters.

7. In popular votes, the people repeatedly refuse to increase their own vacation allowances.

8. Labor laws are truly liberal. For example, there is no minimum wage. This keeps unemployment very low and the state finances in good shape.

9. The Swiss federal government regularly achieves surplus, largely thanks to the so-called debt brake mechanism.

10. Many meetings at the national level occur in different languages, but without translation. Everyone is free to speak his/her mother tongue but understands the languages of others.

11. The official language of Swiss multinational corporations is English. It helps to integrate foreigners and to deal with foreign markets. And it drastically reduces translation costs.

12. Research is largely market-driven and financed by the private sector. Even projects partly financed by the state are market-driven, and the resulting intellectual property is normally owned by the private sector.

Let's not be stingy. I'll give you another "surprising fact" for free: Year after year, Switzerland is ranked #1 in the WEF Global Competitiveness Report…

Best Regards, bien à vous, beste Grüsse,

Philippe D. Monnier
Executive Director, Greater Geneva Berne area

Picture: © Berne Tourism

Author: Philippe D. Monnier

Philippe D. Monnier is GGBa Executive Director. Previous jobs include McKinsey consultant, e-business entrepreneur and international executive in a global industrial group. He has lived in about 10 countries.

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