Interview with Josef Dobrawez

Name: Josef Dobrawez
Nationality: Swiss / Slovenia
Cohorte: EMBA 57

Tell us more about your background. What were you doing prior to embarking on the EMBA HSG?

I am an Engineer at heart, I love new technologies and innovations. After my apprenticeship as an electronics engineer, I studied electrical engineering with a focus on computer science and started my own business together with two other students during my studies. From a three-man software start-up, I quickly grew into a small e-business consulting and service company with subsidiaries in Germany, Portugal and India. In the process, we have advised well-known banks in Switzerland and Europe in the area of e-banking and also implemented SW solutions. As CTO, I was mainly at home on the technical side for more than 15 years.  Afterwards I changed to the industry and was responsible for research and development at ZEAG AG, an international SME in the engineering industry. At the same time, I was also responsible as head of innovation for transforming existing products into the digital age. As deputy CEO, I always had the overall success of the company in mind, but always strongly influenced by my technical background. Therefore, I decided to make a radical change and to gain experience in the discipline of sales. I also had the desire to live abroad.

As Business Development Manager for Thomson Reuters, a leading global financial services provider, I took on a classic sales role in Cape Town, South Africa. I was responsible for the market development of financial information systems and equity trading platforms in Sub-Saharan Africa, a very demanding job with lots of travelling. This was the point in my career where I was hesitating to pursue an EMBA, but realized that with all the traveling, I didn’t have enough time for it. After almost 10 years, I returned to Switzerland for family reasons and found a new challenge here. Today I am responsible for sales, marketing and project implementation for the Car Access division at SKIDATA (Switzerland) AG. We are the world’s leading provider of access solutions for ski resorts, parking lots and stadiums. The exciting thing about my job is the symbiosis between technology, sales and new business models.

Why did you choose the Executive MBA HSG Programme?

I am currently facing the challenge of business transformation in a professional context. Pursuing this transformation is a decisive reason why I chose the Executive MBA HSG. In the run-up to the program, I had studied the content of various other programs intensively and also exchanged ideas with professors and alumni. In the end, I selected the University of St.Gallen because the content and format of the modules convinced me. Another decisive factor was the fact that the modules take place from Monday to Friday, which allows me to plan many things better and still find time for my private life. In addition, I would like to activate the network of the HSG, with its good reputation as the top address for professional development in Switzerland.

How has the EMBA HSG programme changed you personally so far?

I’m glad that I didn’t do the EMBA at the age of 30, because today I have a much bigger backpack with valuable experiences that help me to put what I’ve learned into perspective. What I really appreciate is the class size and the exchange with the other participants, who come from very different industries. We have doctors, people from industry, banks and insurance companies, consultants, administrations, lawyers – this opens up many new horizons. The special thing about the EMBA HSG is that everyone has a huge backpack of experience, which makes the exchange so valuable. I come to the module on Monday and on Friday I go home with much more energy and full of zest for action, even though the week is exhausting. I also get really great support from my boss in the company, I can bring a lot of what I learn during the week into our company without reservation and implement some of it one-to-one, he gives me a lot of freedom. In addition, I have received confirmation for much of what I do intuitively but I have also learned many new methods, for example in negotiations and communication with investors. In the past I have failed in this area, but now I know how to prepare myself optimally for a pitch.

The biggest change I feel is the question of my purpose. The social deceleration forced by Covid-19 has mercilessly shown what is really important in life and I am currently at a point where I am more than ever dealing with my personal purpose – away from my career. There I feel a change, but it is not yet complete.

Which module has inspired you the most so far?

The Leadership and Business Transformation courses have brought me enormously forward on a personal level, while the Strategy course has taken me very far in my professional career. I always have a lot of new business ideas and I’m always very innovative, but you have to communicate them in a way that you can pick up people. This is a point where I have learned a lot and can take it back with me.

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

Do the EMBA HSG because you want new input and are open to it and don’t do it to have something on your CV. Be ready for this challenge and take advantage of this great opportunity to share your experiences. In the EMBA you have to have experience, that is the most valuable thing. I learn most during the exchange with the students and in the group work, you can’t read or study that anywhere. And take the opportunity to make new acquaintances and friendships that can help you outside your career.

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