Interview with Alexander Furer

Name: Alexander Furer
Nationality: Switzerland
Year Graduated: EMBA Alumnus (Cohort 52)
Current Organization: Swiss Armed Forces
Current Role: Head of Political and Military Strategic Affairs

Tell us more about your professional background. What were you doing prior to doing the Executive MBA HSG?

After completing the Military Academy at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, I served in various positions and ranks as a career officer in the Swiss Armed Forces. This includes leadership positions as well as staff functions as well as serving as an instructor in leadership courses does. Before attempting the EMBA HSG programme, I served as the garrison commander of the basic training unit and officer school in Payerne. From 2015 onwards, I was deputy commander of the Air Force Training Brigade.


Why did you decide to do an EMBA programme? Why did you choose the EMBA HSG?

Before I enrolled into the EMBA HSG programme, I laid my academic focus on security policy related issues.  This resulted in my diploma in military sciences from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and my Master of Science degree in Global Security from the Cranfield University (UK). The EMBA HSG programme provided an alternative in terms of gaining insight into the economic sector while giving me the opportunity to complement my military leadership training with a civilian understanding of leadership. I chose the EMBA HSG programme because of its programme content, its excellent reputation and the efficient programme format.

How has the EMBA HSG programme changed you personally?

Personally, I experienced the EMBA HSG programme as something similar to a training camp. It was much more than just another step in my professional development. It has changed the way I see and understand things. Today, I am able to assess a situation more comprehensively. I am able to understand security policy issues within their appropriate economic context. The EMBA HSG programme allowed me to think and assess in a holistic way.

Overall, the EMBA HSG programme has contributed to my personal development as much as it has advanced my horizon. This is especially true in the context of my leadership experience as well as having made new friends and thus expanding my network – both in social as well as in work related elements. Last but certainly not least, the EMBA HSG programme has fuelled my thirst to capitalise on development opportunities, strengthened my ambition for continuous change and equipped me with the necessary capabilities to accept new challenges.

How has the EMBA HSG programme made a difference in your career?

I had the opportunity to experience the EMBA journey as part of a management development programme. Three months after completing the programme, I was able to assume my current position.
Today, I am responsible for political and military strategic affairs within the Armed Forces administration. This places me at the crossroads between defence policy and the Armed Forces, which allows me to gain deeper insights into all things related to defence policy and of how politics ultimately works behind the scenes as well as into the strategic management of the Swiss Armed Forces. In my point of view, this is a benefit and an important prerequisite for any potential further advancement within the Armed Forces.

What did you appreciate the most about the EMBA HSG curriculum?

The modular programme structure enables a thematic focus and at the same time, generates an increasingly holistic picture as the programme progresses. The balance between mandatory and elective modules, on one hand, covers the essential aspects and, on the other hand, makes it possible to incorporate personal preferences. Overall, I found the programme to be well coordinated, balanced and holistic.

Was there a particular course that you enjoyed most, and why?

I found the Corporate Governance module particularly interesting and instructive. This may have something to do with my previous education and experience but it also reflects my specific interest in the strategic management of any organization. I also found the innovation module very interesting learning about all the opportunities innovation can offer to any organisation.

What advice would you give potential participants who are looking to do an EMBA HSG programme?

The EMBA HSG programme brings about a comprehensive personal development process. It does not only change the way you see things or how you think or the way you act, but also demands a profound confrontation with oneself as an individual in a leadership position. Having said that, I would like to point out to any potential and future participant that the EMBA HSG programme is much more than just another step in your professional career. It is a real training camp for leaders.

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