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Leader Spotlights

Reflections on leadership by members of the American Swiss Foundation

Larry Grob: On Creativity

Larry Grob is the Co-founder of a creative communications agency and a Board Member of the American Swiss Foundation.

As I amass more and more years of leadership, and age to be sure, one thing becomes clearer—don’t short-change creativity. Whether one's left or right brain is naturally the more dominant, it’s accepted truth that the side that drives emotion, intuition, and imaginative thinking—the right brain—is often the empowering source for true inspiration and innovation.

Colleges know this. Business schools know...

Ajay Kori: On Failure

Ajay Kori (YL 2016) is Cofounder and Managing Director of Novilla Pharmaceuticals.

Failure is one of the most underappreciated aspects of business. People seem to fear it, but it should be embraced. It provides us so much. By doing things that have the chance of failing, we end up trying novel things. Game changing things that make the world a better place and move forward our collective abilities and technologies. If you’re only ever trying things that have a small chance of failing, chances are you aren’t doing anything...

Robert Peck: On Gratitude

Robert Peck is the CEO & Co-founder of Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, an award-winning specialty coffee and cold brew company based in Arlington, VA.

Is success reaching the destination, or is it the journey itself? In entrepreneurship and business, we too often fixate solely on outcomes. Certainly, setting a clear vision and achieving strategic goals and results are important, but I believe true success and personal fulfillment emerge from cherishing the journey, grounded in the cultivation of gratitude.

Fostering an attitude of gratitude enhances relationships and drives outsized...

Tony Svanascini: On Resilience

Tony Svanascini is the CEO of Mr. Svanascini is a member of the American Swiss Foundation's Board of Directors and an alumnus of the 2010 Young Leaders Conference.

Vince Lombardi, the great football coach of the Green Bay Packers, said: “It’s not whether you got knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.” I think this statement has helped me more than any other in life and business. Resiliency is arguably nature’s most impressive quality as without it, life would have ended as soon as it started. Resilience is life’s key ingredient as it keeps everything in balance, ensures survival,...

Ambassador Ed McMullen: On Optimism

Elected as Vice Chairman of the American Swiss Foundation in 2021, Ed McMullen served as Ambassador of the United States to Switzerland and Liechtenstein from November 2017 to January 2021. Ambassador McMullen is an alumnus of the 1995 Young Leaders Conference.

At the core of ethical and effective leadership is a culture that drives positive change and the overall betterment of our world around us. In my experience, the single most important attribute of leaders who embrace such a culture is an attitude of optimism. During my Ambassadorship to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, I had the great honor of speaking at the University of Zurich from the same podium where Sir Winston Churchill gave his “Let Europe...

Ambassador Jacques Pitteloud: On Trust

Ambassador Jacques Pitteloud has served as Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States of America since 2019.

It’s all about trust. The 30+ years of my professional and military career have given me the opportunity to witness extraordinary as well as very bad leadership examples. I was lucky enough to serve under fairly exceptional bosses, both male and female, and if I were to describe their most impressive leadership skill, I would not hesitate to pick one: trust.

Trusting your subordinates to do their job well means that you will be able to...

Christian Mumenthaler: On Intuition

Christian Mumenthaler is Group Chief Executive Officer of Swiss Re. He holds a PhD in Physics from ETH Zurich and is an alumnus of the 2003 Young Leaders Conference.

Intuition – or more colloquially: gut feeling - is beyond rationalization. By the definition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it's "a natural ability or power that makes it possible to know something without any proof or evidence."

Consequently, intuition has a rather difficult stance in today's business world that is dominated by facts and figures. This is also true for my line of business at Swiss Re – global...

Kevin Conroy: On Perseverance

Kevin Conroy is CEO, president, and chair of the board of Exact Sciences. He is an alumnus of the 2010 Young Leaders Conference. 

In Cool Hand Luke, Paul Newman plays Luke Jackson, a war hero sentenced to two years in a prison work-camp for a minor offense. Dragline, the prisoners’ leader, challenges Luke to a boxing match. Severely outmatched, Luke gets knocked down, again and again, yet refuses to acquiesce.  Eventually, Dragline, after unsuccessfully begging Luke to stay down, abandons the fight himself. Luke wins, albeit painfully,...

Kimberly Reed: On Resilience

Kimberly Reed was the first female chair, president, and CEO of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), where she helped American companies to succeed in the competitive global marketplace. She is an alumna of the 2001 Young Leaders Conference and a member of the American Swiss Foundation's board of directors.

When I was very young, my grandmother called me “Kim-Can!” Through these simple words, she was indirectly telling me—and, deep down, I eventually knew—you can do anything, no matter what the obstacle, if you are focused and determined. If you fall, you can get back up to achieve the task at hand. It just takes resilience.

Over the years, I have taken resilience to a new level by forcing myself out of my comfort zone...

Jesse Kimball: On Change

Jesse B. Kimball is founding partner at 1859 Advisors, an energy consulting and asset management firm. He was a Young Leader in 2014 and has served on the Board of the American Swiss Foundation since 2019.


Change gets a bad rap. Policy change. Regime change. Climate change. These days, it seems that most people assume change is bad.  If the common assumption is that change is bad, then one must assume that the result of that change is also bad....

Markus Diethelm: On Success

Elected as Co-Chair of the American Swiss Foundation in 2021, Markus U. Diethelm most recently served as General Counsel at Credit Suisse from June 2022 until the merger of UBS and CS. From 2021 until the end of April 2022, Markus Diethelm was Of Counsel to UBS and for the previous thirteen years, he served as the General Counsel of UBS Group AG (2014 to 2021) and UBS AG (since 2008). From...

How can we help everyone - and I mean everyone - live to their potential? Let us begin by putting an end to averagarian thinking - meaning that any organization composed of individuals of average ability, working in accordance with policies, plans and procedures discovered by analysis of fundamental facts of their situations, will in the long run prove more successful and stable than an organization of geniuses each led by inspiration. We have lost dignity...

Jerome Adams: On Compassion

Jerome Adams, MD served as the the 20th surgeon general of the United States. He is an alumnus of the 2015 Young Leaders Conference.

Back in 2015 while running the Indiana State Department of Health, I was thrust into the National spotlight by the largest HIV outbreak ever caused by injection drug use. It was occurring not in an urban setting, but in the rural, mostly white town of Austin, Indiana. We knew the science dictated the opening of a syringe service program (SSP), but needle exchanges were illegal in the state at the time. Academics from the east coast to the west wanted...

Joe Hurd: On Curiosity

Joe Hurd has spent the past twenty years building global sales and business development teams and structuring strategic partnerships with consumer-facing internet companies. He is an alumnus of the 2008 Young Leaders Conference and member of the American Swiss Foundation's Board of Directors.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a front row seat in Silicon Valley over the past twenty years at companies like AOL, Friendster and Facebook, where we leveraged technology to radically transform the media, content, and advertising industries. One characteristic shared by almost every successful founder I have ever worked with, invested in, or advised is an insane degree of curiosity. Being insanely curious goes way beyond being satisfied with a simple...

Bettina Schaller: On Habit

Bettina Schaller heads the Group Public Affairs activities of Adecco Group, the world's leading provider of HR solutions. She is an alumna of the 2011 Young Leaders Conference and member of the American Swiss Foundation's Board of Directors.

You know them—the habits of highly effective and successful people. You have intuitively been following them. Or, as the word “habit” in French implies: You’ve been wearing it.

If you’re looking for hands-on tips for developing more effective leadership habits, how about the HABIT checklist? Here you are: Humility, Authenticity,&nb​sp;Bravery, Intention, and Tenacity.


Maxeme Tuchman: On Resilience

Maxeme Tuchman is CEO and co-founder of Caribu, an interactive video-calling platform that was one of Apple’s 15 “Best Apps of 2020,” one of Time magazine’s Best Inventions, and made Fast Company’s...

David Simnick: On Grit

David Simnick is the CEO and co-founder of Soapbox, a company whose mission is to empower customers with the ability to change the world through everyday quality purchases. He is an alumnus of the 2015 Young Leaders Conference.

2017 was the hardest year of my professional and personal life.

Soapboxthe company that I had built with my best friendContinue Reading