Doing an MBA in Switzerland.

AuteurWilliams, David
Fonction Education - Reprint


Over the past decade, Switzerland has attracted an impressive roll call of European corporate headquarters: Yahoo, Procter & Gamble, McDonald's, Nissan and Starbucks, to name but a few. In 2010, Switzerland also benefited from the UK's decision to impose a bonus tax on finance professionals, with hedge funds such as Brevan Howard Asset Management and BlueCrest Capital Management responding by opening large offices in Geneva. So, what does this influx of international headquarters mean for someone contemplating an MBA course in Switzerland? David Williams of QS investigates.

"Any professional who is good and who has very good experience or skills, has great opportunities in Switzerland at the moment," says Alessandro Fonzi, an MBA graduate of the IMD in Lausanne. Originally from Italy, Fonzi is now a senior vice-president with private bank Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch in Zurich.

Call of the Alps

But what is the attraction of the small mountainous country to companies from all over the world?

It comes down to a confluence of positive factors, but fundamentally, it is Switzerland's liberal taxation policies, which--despite the country's location at the heart of Europe--are not constrained by EU membership. The transport infrastructure is superb and the quality of life extremely high, with Geneva and Zurich consistently ranking as some of the best cities in the world in which to live. Its education system is very well regarded, plus a long tradition of language learning means any company wishing to set up its headquarters in the country can expect to find a skilled, multilingual workforce.

What's more, the economy and the banking sector in particular, have weathered the downturn very well. A conservative, save-before-you-spend culture means Switzerland is less indebted than other nations, while the country's banking sector was less exposed to toxic assets than many elsewhere.

"Switzerland has traditionally had a very resilient labour market and economy," says Dr. Rob Straw, MBA director at the University of St. Gallen. "It is smaller, so there is more stability, and the economy has not been hit as hard here as it has been in other countries."

The MBA jobs market

Not all the companies who have relocated to Switzerland are necessarily MBA recruiters, of course; and it seems that international MBA candidates are still more interested in the quality of the business schools in the country than in working in the...

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