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New Silk Road – Chances and Challenges for Swiss Companies

Bank Vontobel AG, Zurich
Leadership Meetings

Mittwoch, 27. Februar 2019
15.00 - 20.00 Uhr, Zürich


China’s New Silk Road – risk or opportunity?

The mammoth Chinese project is hitting the headlines, including in Switzerland. More and more leaders from industry and politics are coming to realise the speed, momentum and scope with which the Belt and Road Initiative is approaching Europe and is already altering the markets. The New Silk Road not only comprises railways, roads and shipping lanes from China via Central Asia to Europe and on to Africa and Latin America. With the Digital Silk Road, the People’s Republic of China also aims to massively improve Internet links and ensure global cover by expanding the Chinese satellite navigation network BeiDou. A safe, reliable and faster alternative trade route to Europe is being opened up with the Polar Silk Road through the Arctic. Not even outer space is sacrosanct to the Chinese: participating countries are to have privileged access to China’s planned space projects.

The topic of the New Silk Road is omnipresent, there is no lack of information. What we lack are statements about strategic options and practical recommendations on implementing strategies in companies. When it comes to China, Swiss managers mostly think of the People’s Republic as a market for selling their wares; the prospect of increasing Chinese competition in the domestic market and their own export markets has been little discussed so far. We therefore want to address these questions:
– Are we affected by the New Silk Road? If so, in what way?
– What new threats are emerging for us? How will we deal with them?
– What do we have to do to continue our company’s success in the future – in a competitive environment that has been changed by China?
– What new opportunities will open up to our company? How can we seize them?

The answers will be supplied by competent China experts with many years of experience. Swiss legal expert and sinologist Harro von Senger will present the political framework of the New Silk Road: China’s long-term plan, sino-Marxism and the relevance of its stratagems that are also reflected in the Belt and Road initiative. Hans Joachim Fuchs, who has advised many Swiss and European companies on their China business over the past 20 years, delves into the practical side and shows how companies can respond strategically to the new challenge.

Dieter Voegtli has worked in China for more than 20 years. He has headed the China business of the Bühler Group since 2004 and its entire Asia business since 2009. Bühler built large state-run grain mills in the 1920s and 1970s and has also been working locally in R&D since 2009. Bühler China comprises 8 factories, 3500 employees and 13 service stations.

Aida Kaeser, CEO of SAVVY® Telematic Systems, has developed with her company a device that attaches to containers or railway wagons and constantly transmits data such as temperature, vibrations, location and time to the Cloud. With the expansion of goods transport, SAVVY® is benefiting from the New Silk Road and the start-up already achieves sales in the seven-figure bracket.

On 27 February, delegates to the Leadership Meeting will receive qualified input for the development and implementation of strategic initiatives with which they can tap into the opportunities that arise and minimise the new risks.


3:00 pm

Arrival of delegates at Bank Vontobel Ltd, Gotthardstrasse 43, Zurich

3:30 pm

Welcome by Lukas Braunschweiler, President SMG

3:40 pm

Speech by Prof. Harro von Senger, Swiss legal specialist and sinologist:
«China’s Supraplan and Stratagems»

Speech by Dr Hans Joachim Fuchs, Managing Director of Chinabrand Consulting:
«The New Silk Road: Facts, Motives and Strategies»

4:40 pm


5:00 pm

Key Input from Dieter Voegtli, President Global Sales and Service Organization,
Bühler AG: «Trade Relations with China Over the Years»

Key Input from Aida Kaeser, Co-founder and CEO of SAVVY® Telematic
Systems Ltd: «Understand China, but Plot your own Course»

5.30 pm

Panel session with all speakers
Moderator: Peter Hartmeier,
Co-proprietor and Partner Lemongrass

Questions and Answers

6:40 pm

Summary and Outlook by Lukas Braunschweiler
SMG invites you to a standing reception.


End of the event



Lukas Braunschweiler, President SMG. Lukas Braunschweiler is the President of SMG and serves on the Board of Directors of a variety of companies. He holds a Master of Science in Analytical Chemistry and a PhD in Physical Chemistry from ETH Zurich. From 2011 to the end of March 2018, he worked as the CEO of the Sonova Group. He was previously CEO of the Swiss technology group RUAG and led the Californiabased Dionex Corporation as President and CEO from 2002 to 2009. In addition, Lukas Braunschweiler held various roles in the corporate management of Mettler Toledo from 1995 to 2002. Lukas Braunschweiler is a member of the Boards of Directors of the Sonova Group, Sulzer and Schweiter Technologies AG and is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Tecan Group Ltd.

von Senger

Prof. Harro von Senger, Swiss legal specialist and sinologist. Prof. Harro von Senger, lawyer, completed a PhD in Law in 1969 and a further PhD in Sinology in 1981 after spending long periods teaching at the National Taiwan University in Taipeh, Tokyo University and Beijing University. Since 1981, Harro von Senger has been a lecturer in sinology at the University of Zurich, specialising in China’s legal and political institutions. From 1982 to 1989, he worked as a research fellow in Chinese and Japanese law at the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law in Lausanne. He has been an expert in Chinese law there since 1989. The University of Freiburg, Germany, awarded Harro von Senger a life professorship in sinology in 1989. He retired in 2009. Harro von Senger has authored many legal and sinological works for both the professional and scientific community and the general public. Two of his books have appeared in 15 languages.


Dr Hans Joachim Fuchs, Managing Director of Chinabrand Consulting. Dr Hans Joachim Fuchs, engineer with a PhD in Economics and Social Sciences, is Managing Director of the consultancy firm Chinabrand Consulting. He has been out and about in China for the past 20 years and advises prominent European branded goods manufacturers on their China business. Professional highlights: Director with Deloitte, Board Member with Braxton Associates, Vice Director of Prognos Ltd and manager with the Handelsblatt publishing group.


Dieter Voegtli, President Global Sales and Service Organization, Bühler AG. Dieter Voegtli holds a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (ETH Zurich) and an MBA (INSEAD). He started his career in global power plant commissioning and as a software development manager with ABB. He then worked for eight years as the Technical Director for Roche China Ltd. Since 2004, Dieter Voegtli has been President of Bühler China. He has headed the Bühler Group’s China and Asia-Pacific business since 2009. As of 1 January 2018, he was appointed President of the Global Sales and Service Organization.


Aida Kaeser, Co-founder and CEO of SAVVY® Telematic Systems Ltd. After completing a degree in business science, Aida Kaeser held various management roles in international listed IT companies, always with a focus on the digitisation of corporate processes. In parallel, she continued her education in software and web development. In addition to many years of experience at the top management level, Aida Kaeser has a very good knowledge of software development, B2B marketing and strategy development. In January 2014, she founded SAVVY® Telematic Systems Ltd in Schaffhausen together with two other colleagues and a core team of more than 15 software and hardware developers.


Peter Hartmeier, Co-proprietor and Partner, Lemongrass Communications. Peter Hartmeier is a co-proprietor and partner in Lemongrass Communications. He focuses mainly on advising companies, organisations and individuals in demanding media situations and reputation management and works regularly as a journalist. Before joining Lemongrass in 2013, Peter Hartmeier was Head of Communications with UBS Switzerland. During his long career in journalism, he worked with publications including «Weltwoche» and «Bilanz». In addition, he was the chief executive of the Swiss press association VSP and Head of Corporate Communication with Tamedia.

Registration and fee

This event is fully booked. We ask for your understanding that we can no longer accept applications.

Host and event organiser

Bank Vontobel Ltd
Gotthardstrasse 43
8022 Zurich
Main entrance, corner Gotthardstrasse/Genferstrasse

Event organiser
Swiss Management Association
Zeltweg 48, 8032 Zurich
office [at],
Telephone + 41 44 202 23 25

Beat Meyer
Blauen Solutions - Pivotal Connections in Context

How to get there

Bank Vontobel Ltd
Gotthardstrasse 43
8022 Zurich
Main entrance, corner Gotthardstrasse/ Genferstrasse

Directions by public transport
From tram stop “Hauptbahnhof/Bahnhofstrasse” by tram line 6 (direction Bahnhof Enge), line 7 (direction Wollishofen) or line 13/17 (direction Albisgüetli). Alight at the “Tunnelstrasse” stop. Cross the street, walking towards the lake, and follow Genferstrasse. After around 200 m, the entrance to Vontobel is on the left.

Directions by car
No reserved parking is available. You are recommended to use public transport.

The nearest multi-storey car parks are at Beethovenstrasse 35 opposite the Palavrion restaurant or in the Park Hyatt Hotel.

How to get there
Route planner

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