Leader Spotlights

Reflections on aspects of great leadership by members of the American Swiss Foundation.

Ambassador Ed McMullen

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...

Kevin Conroy: On Perseverance

Kevin Conroy is the Chief Executive Officer, President, and Chairman 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 actually wins,...

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...

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...

Tony Svanascini: On Resilience

Tony Svanascini is the CEO of AmericanEagle.com. 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. Resiliency is life’s key ingredient as it keeps everything in balance, ensures survival,...

Markus Diethelm: On Success

Markus U. Diethelm has been Group General Counsel of UBS Group AG since 2014, having held the same position at UBS AG since 2008, when he became a member of the GEB. Mr. Diethelm is Co-Chairman of the American Swiss Foundation and Chairman of the Swiss Advisory Council.

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...

Kimberly Reed: On Resilience

Kimberly Reed was the first woman Chairman, President, and CEO of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) where she worked helping companies to succeed in the competitive global marketplace. She is an alumna of the 2001 Young Leaders Conference and 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...

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, President of the Young Leaders Alumni Foundation, and member of the American Swiss Foundation's Board of Directors.

You know them, as a Leader: the Habits of highly effective, successful people. You have intuitively been following them... Or as the word “habit” in French implies: you’ve been wearing them…

Now if you’re looking for hands-on tips on developing more effective leadership habits, how about the H.A.B.I.T checklist? Here you are: Humility, Authenticity, Bravery,...

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 list of World Changing Ideas. She is an alumna of the 2018 Young Leaders Conference.

Raising startup funding as a Latina is challenging. The odds were not in my favor, and they still aren’t. Over the years, I’ve had plenty of investors advise me to just give up. It was never because they thought that the concept of Caribu was a bad idea, they just weren't willing to take a risk on someone who didn’t fit their preconceived mold of a successful entrepreneur. But, I never let that stop me. Today, my company is thriving....

David Simnick: On Grit

David Simnick is the CEO and co-founder of SoapBox Soaps, a company whose mission is 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.

The company that I had built with my best friend had declining revenue, our investors were suspicious of our future, and all indicators from the market were telling us that we should fold. We had an offer, albeit an awful one, by a similar consumer company to acquire us and their negotiation tactics were beyond Machiavellian. Oh, and we had to lay off half of our staff to preserve...