Michael Rechsteiner

Michael Rechsteiner is a mechanical engineer ETH with an Executive MBA from the University of St.Gallen. He has been member of the board of directors of Swisscom AG since 2019 and its chairman since 2021. His career began in 1990 at ABB Kraftwerke AG (later Alstom), where he held various international positions. In 2003, he became COO of the then textile machinery manufacturer Sultex. In 2007, he returned to Alstom Power and led the global service business. After the acquisition of Alstom Power by General Electric, he was responsible for the global product range of GE Power Services and, from 2017, as CEO for the power plant business in Europe. Michael Rechsteiner is board and board committee member of economiesuisse.

«Complementary diversity in any form and constructive teamwork are highly important on the supervisory board»

What are the main topics that currently concern you in your activities as supervisory board member?
Currently, the supervisory board is working intensively on growth options and sustainability. Succession planning and excellent corporate governance are ongoing topics.

How have the demands on the work of the supervisory board changed in view of the increasingly rapid economic changes worldwide and the increasing cadence of extreme events?
The supervisory board is responsible for the strategic leadership, the management for the operational implementation of the strategy. It is therefore important to always distinguish between these levels and not to lose the strategic long-term view in the supervisory board despite the operational challenges.

With this in mind, which expertise is becoming increasingly important on the supervisory board?
Complementary diversity in any form and constructive teamwork are highly important. A supervisory board should be able to challenge and thus support the management in its executive management. It is about anticipating future challenges for our society and working on their solutions today.

The ecological footprint of Swiss companies is large. How important is sustainability at Swisscom, and how did ecological considerations change the focus of the supervisory boards’ agenda?
Indeed, climate, but also energy efficiency, supply chains and circular economy are strategically important. At Swisscom, we have been closely involved in these topics for many years as a supervisory board and actively engage with them. Responsibility for sustainability lies with the entire supervisory board; the Audit & ESG Committee examines ESG reporting and has also been renamed accordingly. We are all proud that Swisscom was once again named the world’s most sustainable telecommunications company last year.

56% of the new executive board members and 44% of the new supervisory board members do not hold Swiss citizenship – both absolute records in the last 18 years. Where do you see the reason for this?
We want the most capable minds in the company and also on the supervisory board. This is the only way we can meet the high demands of our shareholders, customers, and other stakeholders. A person’s citizenship therefore plays less of a role than their skills and willingness to commit themselves whole-heartedly to Swisscom. Furthermore, these conditions reflect the international orientation of our Swiss companies.

Due to demographic developments, soon more managers and skilled professionals will retire than succeed them. How do you deal with the increasing shortage of skilled professionals at Swisscom AG? What strategic measures have you introduced to counter this?
It is not just a shortage of skilled workers, but a shortage of labour that we and the entire Swiss economy are facing. Our strategy in this regard is based on four pillars: 1. we are pushing ahead with the digitalisation of our processes with all our strength; – 2. we are investing in the training and further education of our employees; for example, we have around 900 apprentices, offer various career-start programmes and every employee is entitled to training days. – 3. we are constantly working on improving our attractiveness as an employer and attach high importance to employer branding. – 4. we also develop certain service activities or software abroad.

In a few years, the majority of employees will belong to Generation Z. How does your company attract this target group and what do you expect from this target group for the further development of your company?
Each generation brings with it its own new skills and ideas. At Swisscom, we are used to adapting to the associated changes, developing and constantly adapting products, but also working conditions and corporate culture. We do not leave this to chance, but actively shape change. Accordingly, we are looking forward to Generation Z as customers as well as employees.

How do you think the corporate culture has changed since 2019 and what influence has this had on the collaboration between you as chairman and the CEO?
Swisscom has a strong corporate culture around the values of «curiosity, commitment and trustworthiness». These values are formative and deeply rooted. Under the leadership of our new CEO Christoph Aeschlimann, we have renewed our vision and additionally strengthened the dimensions of innovativeness and trustworthiness. Accordingly, today I feel a new, pleasant euphoric mood with an eagerness for the future. With Urs Schaeppi and now also with Christoph Aeschlimann, I maintain a very open and appreciative collaboration. We see ourselves, but also the supervisory and corporate executive board, as a team in which everyone has his or her role. This makes the work very joyful.