Markus Binkert (Young Leader 2006)
Chief Commercial Officer, Member of the Management Board of Swiss International Air Lines
What do you like most about Switzerland?
The way it’s so international yet has so many local accents, too, and the way it maintains its clear Swiss values while being so open to the world. I see the same mix in Zürich: It’s such an international city, yet in an hour you can be deep in the country or up in the mountains standing on a ski run.
What do you like most about the U.S.?
To me it’s still the “land of boundless opportunities”! I especially appreciate the people’s positive attitude towards success. You just don’t have the kind of envy culture that we unfortunately have in Europe, and are actually seeing more and more of, too.
What defines your leadership style?
I view myself as a “channeler." I like to be close to my people, not shut away in my office. I like to ensure that everyone knows and understands what we stand for and where we’re headed, so they can bring all the energy and enthusiasm to their work that are so vital when you’re in the airline business.
Who inspires you?
Natural leaders: people who are totally convincing on the strength of their personality and their commitment. They needn’t be top managers. They can be the person next door. It has nothing to do with hierarchies, either. It can be our receptionist, welcoming guests with the same genuine warmth every day or a world star like Roger Federer, who also promotes and personifies such strong and clear values.
What is your greatest achievement?
Keeping to my character, my values and my principles. That should be a given, really, but it’s not always easy to do!
Do you have any weaknesses?
I think that, because of the way I see my leadership role, I can sometimes take it too personally when something doesn’t get done the way I want it or something goes wrong.
Where do you live?
I’ve had the good fortune to have spent seven years in some of the world’s finest cities: Hong Kong, London, New York and Chicago. But now I’m glad to be back near Zürich, which is where my roots are.
What is your favorite place in the world?
Our second home in Lenzerheide up in the Swiss Alps – especially on a sunny winter’s day with perfect snow conditions.
What is the best book you ever read?
I like fiction. When I read, I love to immerse myself completely in another world. But I also like my fiction to have some link to reality: Dan Brown, for instance. I also enjoy biographies: Winston Churchill’s, for example. But at the moment I’m reading the Asterix comic books with my son, and we’re both really enjoying them.
What is your goal in life?
To grow old happy and healthy… and hopefully pass something good on to the next generation.
About Markus Binkert
Markus currently serves as Chief Commercial Officer, Member of the Management Board of Swiss International Airlines (SWISS). Previously, Markus was named Managing Director, Head of Marketing. From the beginning of 2008 until November 2010, Markus was the head of the Product & Services department at SWISS. In this role, he was responsible for the overall customer experience and heading Inflight (catering), Cabin Interior (seats), Ground Product Development (lounges) and Core Customer Management. From 2005 to 2007 he was responsible for Business Sales CH and Global Sales at SWISS. Before joining SWISS, Markus worked in business consulting as a project manager for Bain & Co. After 2 years as a senior consultant, he was promoted in 2003, subsequently managing strategy development and reorganization projects in the consumer goods and transportation industries. Prior to Bain, he gained experience in the hotel business, where he worked as Assistant to the CEO of Mövenpick Gastronomy after having directed financial and operational aspects of Food & Beverage operations in luxury hotels in London and New York. He earned an MBA degree at Kellogg (Northwestern University) in 2001 and holds a Bachelor's Degree from Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne. Markus spent over 6 years in Hong Kong, London, and the U.S.