Doing business in Zurich: Trends to watch out for

Posting date: 28 February 2019

Doing business in Zurich: Trends to watch out for

Since being named as the world’s most sustainable city in 2016, Zurich hasn’t rested on its laurels, continuing to flourish as a place to both live and work. The social, environmental, and economic factors that led to the award are things that the city has long been revered for, but it’s not something that’s happened by accident.

With a desire to maintain its reputation as a “centre of economic life and education” (a line coined by the official tourist site myswitzerland.com), investment in Zurich’s local infrastructure continues at pace, while being conscious of its environmental impact; the city is one of the lowest generators of emissions and consumers of water in Europe.


Why Zurich attracts businesses and people

While it’s regularly ranked as the second-most competitive financial centre in Europe behind London, uncertainties around the future of the UK could well play into Zurich’s hands.

Already home to 10 of the world’s largest financial firms, the engineering hubs of tech giants and a giant data centre industry, a local startup scene has emerged attracting talent from amongst the 60,000 students who call the city home.

While some will naturally be keen to move into an established household name business when they come out of education, the chance to be a part of something new and exciting is just as attractive to the modern workforce.

Zurich offers the best of both worlds.

Zurich’s low rate of 3.0% unemployment is on a par with the national average, below that of Basel (3.6%) and Geneva (4.9%) and far better than the European average of 6.8%. The business setup is there to cope, no matter how many people want to call the city home!


Sensible city planning

Of the 425k people who currently call Zurich home, 68% of them are of working age. That’s 2% above the national average in Switzerland and 3% above European averages.

Those may sound like small margins, but in a city that’s seen annual population increases of 1.8% over the past decade, it may look from the outside to be a growing city with limited space to expand.

In other regions that could create some serious logistical nightmare — over-urbanisation has a habit of pushing the cost of living way up — however, Zurich isn’t just any other city.

The planning department at the City of Zurich recognised this trend well before it became a problem, implementing an active policy to make better use of abandoned industrial sites to provide affordable studio spaces and rehearsal rooms.

This has seen great redevelopment in Zurich-West, where the former derelict buildings are becoming lively spaces full of contemporary art. Refurbished shipping containers have become pop-up retail spaces and dingy back streets and railway arches now house some of the most desirable restaurants and cafes in the city.


Providing a launchpad

While Zurich is home to many large corporate financial services organisations, such as UBS, Credit Suisse, Swiss Re and Zurich Insurance, it’s increasingly becoming known for its positive startup environment.

Areas like Kreis 5 provide the perfect spot for coworking, and the many meetups, tech conferences and incubator schemes have helped fuel the thriving startup scene.

With the close proximity to those making financial decisions, some for these companies can be expected to break out of startup mode in the coming years. Exactly who it will be is a matter for debate, but there are some strong contenders.

Of course, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, and within the financial sector companies such as Advanon and Wefox are attempting to challenge the traditional norms of the industry.

The medical folk are arguably even more active when it comes to innovation, with Ava becoming a vital service for women across the world, and Versantis, Xeltis and Cutiss showing strength in the pharma and medical devices field.

Whether it’s Selfnation in fashion, ComfyLight in home security, Nezasa in travel or Beekeeper in employee communication, every corner of the city has a potential ‘next big thing’ on its hands. For any company considering where to base their HQ, Zurich surely must close to the top of the list.


Make your business move with Swisslinx

As a specialist recruitment company providing talent solutions across Switzerland and internationally, we’re proud to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and recruitment trends. With a Zurich base, we are active partners to new startups and larger organisations emerging in the city, and have a thriving network of skilled, vetted candidates ready to make their mark in this market. Find out more about what we offer here.

Celebrating 20 years at Swisslinx: An interview with Director Colin Tivendale

Swisslinx is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, and to celebrate, we’re speaking to some of the people who’ve helped make Swisslinx become the business it is today. Colin Tivendale started his career working in journalism and event promotion before entering the recruitment industry in 2002, where he’s remained ever since. Working within the recruitment markets of Digital & Technology and Change & Consulting, he’s worked his way up to Director level at Swisslinx and is looking forward to seeing the company continue to grow into the future. Here’s his story:“I worked in multi-lingual call centres before moving to recruitment”After moving on from his work in call centres, Colin first gained an insight intro recruitment when he worked at S3 in London on one of their Swiss desks. As an English, French and German speaker, Colin was able to further develop his multi-lingual skills during these early days of his career, before deciding to venture into more of a business development role.“I wanted to be based in Zurich at a company that placed a high value on the customer experience”Colin had his sights set on a boutique company where he could make a meaningful impact and commit to a long-term career. Swisslinx fit the bill – he joined in 2002 to specialise in technology, finance and business support, and has since added executive search, program resourcing and consulting to his skillset. His journey has seen him touch on most sales topics, including business development, research and account management across technology, corporate functions, finance and executive search, spanning the regions of Zurich, Geneva, Dubai/Abu Dhabi and London.“I manage a team of four in a space that is ripe for disruption”Colin’s team’s focus is primarily developing the business lines of the future for Swisslinx, which he believes to be Consulting/Professional Services and Executive Search for CIO/CDO and CTO functions. These spaces are primed and ready for disruption and Colin says better service levels can be delivered to customers by providing more transparency, a shorter timeline from engagement to hire and a more direct and delivery-focused execution style. “There have been so many highlights since I joined the company”Swisslinx has grown enormously during Colin’s tenure. When he joined the offering was mainly banking, and he’s proud of helping hedge this portfolio by introducing two large key accounts, one in reinsurance and one in industrial, garnering CHF 20-30 million per year spends. He’s also worked on the majority of the firm’s largest fee generating searches and placements.“I never thought I’d enjoy management as much as I do”Having seen the company grow from fewer than 10 people in one office to a 50 person company with offices around the globe, Colin says Swisslinx’s development has been significant – but there’s still a long way to go. He’s grateful to have who he believes are some of the most talented people in the local and international markets on his team and says their potential to grow and develop is unlimited.“If I ever start feeling too comfortable in my chair, I ask for a new project”Colin remains stimulated in his work thanks to the autonomy he is afforded at Swisslinx. He says he’s been given the freedom to develop business lines and add new elements to existing areas, which has resulted in the introduction of the Commodities and Natural Resources business and the recent focus on Consulting and Professional Services. The former was instrumental in Swisslinx moving away from being a generalist recruitment agency towards the highly specialised boutique model of today. Meanwhile, the Consulting and Professional Services offering provides customers with a sustainable and credible alternative to the established management and tech consulting firms.“Good recruiters are at their best when they are the broker directly communicating with the client and candidate”While Colin counts himself lucky to have started in recruitment in the early days of LinkedIn and new technology platforms, he maintains that the personal touch of a recruiter cannot be digitalised. As client needs continue to evolve at pace, Recruiters and Swisslinx as a business must be proactive to keep developing. “Here we are given enough freedom to innovate and create, coupled with just the right amount of support to succeed”In addition to having the autonomy and ability to craft, design and implement business plans, Colin loves working alongside people who are passionate about what they do. From the partners who have been with Swisslinx since day one to the management team and new joiners, he believes the most important elements are in place to continue to exceed expectations.  Interested in learning more about what it’s like to work at Swisslinx or do business with the company? View our blog to find out more, or click here to meet other members of the team. 

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Celebrating 20 years at Swisslinx: An interview with Director Jennifer Bego

Swisslinx is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, and to celebrate, we’re speaking to some of the people who’ve helped make Swisslinx become the business it is today. Jennifer Bego has been with Swisslinx since 2005, when she arrived in Switzerland after spending a year in Australia. While she never anticipated such a long and successful career in recruitment, she’s loved every step of it. Here’s her story: “At university I never really imagined a career path for myself” Like many in this industry, Jenny didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a Recruiter. Rather, the career is one she fell into, and she’s not looked back in 14 years. During her schooling and uni days Jenny wasn’t sure what career pathway might interest her, although she had the fundamental skills that make up a good Recruiter: communication, confidence and social intelligence. After graduating she was eager to start earning, and when searching for jobs within her skill set and qualifications she kept coming across recruitment vacancies. With no reason not to, Jenny interviewed for her first role – and the rest is history.  “Swisslinx is family – literally” Many people say that their work is like a family, but Jenny really means it. Her then-UK-based father was recruited by Swisslinx whilst Jenny was travelling in Australia, and after her trip ended she returned to her new home of Zurich to join them. Her father suggested she consider a role at Swisslinx, and since then the company has had a hand to play in bringing her brother, his best friend and Jenny’s school friend to Zurich. She says the ripple effect of that first call from Swisslinx to her father has been amazing, changing the course of not only her life, but those of many people she knows. “My reasons for joining weren’t strategic – I really just liked the Partners” When Jenny first joined Swisslinx, she had no idea she’d had such an illustrious career with the business. With little thought to her future or any strategic reason for joining a company, Jenny says she simply liked the people she met at Swisslinx and wanted to work somewhere that seemed friendly and focused. Starting out as a researcher on the finance desk, Jenny soon saw herself drawn to the speed and style of the IT side of the business, where she’s been ever since.  “In my 15 years I’ve experienced different roles all over the business” Jenny’s time at Swisslinx has spanned research, consultant and management roles, before she moved into her current Director position in January 2018. She says it’s important for her to remain hands-on and play an active role in managing accounts, particularly as Swisslinx retains the number one position in numerous Preferred Supplier Lists (PSL). Managing a team of Consultants, Jenny has contributed significantly to the strategy and growth of Swisslinx with the creation of new service offerings such as RPO. “15 years in any industry brings a lot of change” Jenny says one of the most dramatic changes she’s seen during her time at Swisslinx has been the introduction of automated and system-driven recruitment delivery models. Relationship building will always be a crucial part of recruitment, but the addition of new technologies has allowed many processes to become more efficient and effective. This has meant well-written CVs have become more important than ever in the recruitment process, as Recruiters can no longer discuss certain attributes of a candidate directly with line managers. In addition, Jenny has seen a growth in interest for flexible talent solutions such as RPO has stemmed from an increase in scale-ups and start-ups, as well as the candidate-driven market which requires more manpower to reach the top talent. Many roles end up being filled by the passive candidate market who can only be reached by active sourcing, which is in itself a hugely time-intensive task. This is an activity that is not a part of traditional HR responsibilities and is therefore typically outsourced to active sourcing specialists, such as Swisslinx, to run in tailor-made solutions such as project or long-term based RPO.  “The people are what I love most about Swisslinx” Swisslinx has become a family to Jenny over the years, and she says the way employees are treated is unique. “They truly care and make you feel valued as a person” says Jenny. “The trust and freedom they provide creates a natural and deeply rooted sense of loyalty which I am sure is shared by many here.” Jenny says Olivier and Caroline extend so much trust in their team members and are flexible, understanding and supportive.  In addition, Jenny says she’s stayed with the company due to its ethics and ways of working. Swisslinx has a strong moral compass, says Jenny, and will not “make a deal at any cost”.  “It’s been great to see the evolution of the company and the success we’ve had over the past 15 years” Jenny says Swisslinx has become so well regarded in its market space and its expansion into new areas is testament to its ongoing growth and success. She’s particularly proud of the success the RPO model has already had and says the level of transparency Swisslinx works with fosters a high level of trust with both clients and relationships.  “We’re seeing demand for RPOs and dedicated talent acquisition teams, and I’m excited about what’s coming in terms of the service lines we’re growing and offering,” she says. Start-ups and scale-ups are increasingly looking to Swisslinx to help fill their talent pipelines and build a database of candidates, which Jenny is keen to see develop into the future.  “As long as I’m working in recruitment, I’m working at Swisslinx” Loyal to Swisslinx and excited for the future, Jenny is looking forward to helping consultants on her team develop and grow with the company – just as she has.  Interested in learning more about what it’s like to work at Swisslinx or do business with the company? View our blog to find out more, or click here to meet other members of the team. 

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