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Zurich is a unique place in the world for a myriad of reasons, according to native resident Oliver Banz, ’05The Swiss city has a range of job opportunities across all sectors and is also a fantastic place to live, he said.

“People work hard, but it is not that cutthroat culture you find in other places,” said Banz, who recently stepped down as chief of staff for global ultra-high-net-worth at UBS ahead of taking on a new position. “You only need a 30-minute journey out of Zurich by car or train and you are in a perfectly beautiful landscape where you can walk, bike, run, picnic, or do whatever you want.”

This work/life combination has attracted scores of Booth alumni to the city, where they work in sectors as diverse as luxury goods, food, pharmaceuticals, and finance, according to Banz, who has been president of the Zurich alumni club since 2015.

The Zurich Experts

Oliver Banz, ’05Former Chief of Staff for Global Ultra-High-Net Worth, UBS

Monica Dreyer Staub, ’17 (EXP-22), Head of Marketing and Branding, Zurich Cantonal Bank

Rolf Friedli, ’96 (EXP-1), Partner and Chairman, Capvis Equity Partners

Florian Muggli, ’17, Vice President and Key Account Manager, Lombard Odier Group

Julie Muggli, ’17, People Analytics Manager, Swarovski

The club’s 200-odd members meet up for the six to eight events that are held every year—a significant increase from when it was established in 1996. One of its founding members is Rolf Friedli, ’96 (EXP-1), who is now partner and chairman at private equity firm Capvis Equity Partners. “In 1996 there was no formal club,” he recalled. “At the first meeting we had three people including me, so I remember it well. We kept on going and now it’s a thriving club.”

Today’s club provides a forum for Booth alumni in Zurich to meet each other and maintain contact, as well as to keep up-to-date with developments at the school. Club members organize a variety of formal and social events that encompass everything from high-profile speakers and topical panel sessions to ski trips and barbecues on the shore of beautiful Lake Zurich.

It was really nice to meet other alumni who had something in common when I was moving to somewhere where everything felt so new.

 

— Julie Muggli

The combination of business and social events worked particularly well for husband and wife Florian Muggli, ’17,and Julie Muggli, ’17. Florian moved to Zurich in January 2018, and Julie joined him in the city this past June, moving from Chicago.

Julie, who is people analytics manager at Swarovski, the luxury crystal and jewelry company, said she found the club an excellent way to make connections in the city, especially as this is the first time she’s lived outside the United States.

Her first alumni event was a wine tasting at Martel’s in Zurich, one of Switzerland’s top wine merchants. “It was really nice to meet other alumni who had something in common when I was moving to somewhere where everything felt so new,” she said. “It was really nice to have something that felt familiar.”

The event turned out to be even more significant for Julie, as a Booth graduate she met at the event worked for Swarovski and mentioned that they were hiring. “Once a role became available, he was the first person I could reach out to,” she said.

The Mugglis hope to attend an event that the club holds every January at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. “That is one of those events that you don’t normally get to go to unless you are a senior level or have some other connection,” said Florian, who is vice president and key account manager at private bank Lombard Odier Group.

Florian said he was impressed with the number and range of activities the club puts on and is hoping that future events will involve a visit to a regional “factory or some other company to learn from someone who can show how the business works so that you get an insight.”

Monica Dreyer Staub, '17(EXP-22), said that the club is important because of the opportunities it’s given her to make contacts with alums. She said she is one of nine Booth graduates at financial services provider Zurich Cantonal Bank, where she works as head of marketing and branding. “We meet there as well, which is very interesting, and it provides two opportunities to meet—at the bank and at the club,” she said.

Friedli can still remember one of his favorite events from more than 20 years ago, when then-dean Robert S. Hamada, now the Edward Eagle Brown Distinguished Service Professor of Finance Emeritus, gave a presentation and then joined a round-table dinner at a traditional Swiss restaurant.

“There was a big reunion in London many years later, and he came and found me among many people and said, ‘Hey, Rolf. Remember that evening when I ate rööschti in Zurich?’ He still remembered the people at the table, the occasion, and where it was. It was an evening where we had very interesting discussions. That was something to remember after 20 years.”

For Friedli the value is in the learning the latest news about the school, hearing talks by professors, and making connections. “You don’t have to examine the attendance list. If you know they went to Booth, they must be interesting people you absolutely want to meet and get to know.”

Booth Selects


The Networking Breakfast: Sprüngli at Paradeplatz

Florian Muggli said the café’s location on the Paradeplatz makes it an ideal spot, as the street is home to the headquarters of both Credit Suisse and UBS, and many other banks are within walking distance. He said it’s known for its Luxemburgerli, airy mini-macaroons filled with a light cream. “I enjoy people watching in this area—you see bankers running around in their suits, tourists trying to find their tram or taking pictures, and the rich of Zurich showcasing their wealth,” he said.

The Classic Business Dinner: Haus zum Rüden

This gothic dining room in a guild hall serving gourmet Swiss dishes has been catering to the higher echelons of Zurich society since the 14th century. Friedli favors it for its location near the Limmat river and in the heart of the old town, close to the Bahnhofstrasse and Paradeplatz. “It is a house with lots of tradition and excellent French and Swiss cuisine,” he said.

The Family-Friendly Activity: Jucker Farm

Although it is about a half hour’s drive from Zurich’s city center, this adventure farm is worth the trip, said Julie Muggli. “The farm has a delicious buffet, a beautiful view, a petting zoo, and plenty of space for kids to play,” she said. The best time to visit is during pumpkin season, which starts around the first week of September. They have a large display with sculptures made of pumpkins that changes every year. It also features a corn maze, a big haystack for climbing, hammocks, and a playground.

The Stroll with a View: By Lake Zurich around Bellevue

There are so many places to relax over a drink, but Florian said Bellevue is especially beautiful on a sunny day when many people hang out by the lake. Some brave young people jump from the bridge into the water. “I enjoy just walking around this area or sitting there with a delicious Mövenpick ice cream,” he said. “It is also a noticeable contrast to Paradeplatz, although it is only some hundred meters away.”

The Free Afternoon: Wall around the City Center

Zurich may be the largest city in Switzerland, but it is compact enough to explore on foot. Banz recommended starting at Hauptbahnhof, the train station, and walking down Bahnhofstrasse to the lake, crossing the bridge over to Bellevue and up along Limmatquai to Central. From there you can take the cable car up to the Polyterrasse and enjoy the view. Florian Muggli agreed and recommended the area around Lindenhof because the remains of Roman life are still visible today. “I love thinking how life must have been back in the day,” he said.

The Day-Trip Getaway: Lucerne

Because of Zurich’s small size and excellent transport system, there are many surrounding Swiss cities that are accessible for a day trip. Monica Dreyer Staub recommended going to Lucerne. From the train station you can take a boat to Alpnachstad, where there is a cogwheel train—running on the steepest track in the world—to the stunning peak of Mount Pilatus. To descend take the cable car down to Fräkmüntegg before returning to Zurich. “Have a nice dinner at Gustav in Zurich-Europaallee and a last drink at the bar,” she said.

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