Joana Filippi

Joana Filippi has been the Chancellor of the Canton of Aargau since August 2021. She heads the Cantonal Chancellery, which includes the Secretariat General, the Communication Services of the Government Council, Strategy and External Relations, and the Legal Services of the Government Council. Prior to this role, she led the Public Affairs department at Zurich Airport AG for eleven years. She gained her first administrative experience as the head of the Department of Economic Affairs in the Canton of Schwyz. She also has international professional experience in a publishing house. She completed a commercial apprenticeship before obtaining her federal maturity diploma and an MA in Political Economy from the Universities of Constance, Warwick, and St. Gallen, where she also completed an Executive MBA.

«A rapidly changing environment requires that the public administration also remains constantly on the move»

What trends do you see in how leadership is evolving in the age of digitization, artificial intelligence, increasing individualization among employees, and agility?
The mentioned developments increasingly require social interactions and participative leadership approaches. The further development of soft skills and lifelong learning are required. In addition, fundamental leadership values such as authenticity, transparency, and credibility will continue to apply.

What opportunities do roles in the public administration offer that are generally overlooked but would be attractive to executives from the private sector?
A rapidly changing environment requires that the public administration also remains constantly on the move, anticipates developments, analyses them, and implements measures. Managers are required to work in an interdisciplinary manner and to think in a networked way – and to do so for a very broad range of topics. This is enormously enriching.

In your opinion, is it an advantage if the managers in the public administration have experience from the private sector?
Professional and management experience from different companies and organisations is always an advantage, whether acquired in the private sector or in public administration. Fortunately, there is a high degree of permeability in both directions, from which both the public and private sectors benefit equally.

Public administrations must fulfil political requirements while also meeting financial demands and continually evolving. How do you deal with these conflicting objectives?
Politics is famously known as the «art of the feasible». This also applies to cantonal financial policy. Setting priorities between what is necessary, desirable, and feasible is the responsibility of the parliament. The daily implementation of these guidelines in the public administration is a conflict of objectives that requires a targeted approach, anticipation, and creativity; this is challenging and interesting.

What areas do you see where public administration could become leaner, more effective, and more productive?
In the Canton of Aargau, optimising tasks and expenditures is a constitutionally mandated ongoing task that determines our daily work. I believe that identifying services that are no longer needed offers great potential for realising productivity gains. The planned use of digitization and AI will also increasingly improve efficiency. However, appropriate investment must first be made in developing these skills.

As a result of demographic trends, where more managers will soon retire than succeed, how do you address the skilled labour shortage in your canton?
In the cantonal administration, we aim to remain attractive to both leadership and skilled professionals through a package of measures that includes attractive working conditions, training and development opportunities.

Switzerland’s ecological footprint is large. How important is sustainability in your canton?
As the «water castle» of Switzerland, this topic holds significant importance in the canton of Aargau. It is crucial that sustainability is practised in everyday life. In addition to various programmes, the cantonal climate compass also contributes to this, which, for example, provides specific implementation measures for climate protection and adaptation.