Ursula Nold

Ursula Nold has been chairwoman of the board of directors of the Federation of Migros Co-operatives (MGB) since 2019. Until 2021, she was a lecturer in management and system development at the Bern University of Teacher Education. She is also chairwoman of be-advanced AG and a board of trustees member of the Pestalozzi Foundation and the Bühnen Bern Foundation. In January 2023, she was included in the list of the top 50 women over 50 in Europe, Middle East and Africa by the business magazine «Forbes». She lives in Bern, is married and mother to four adult children.

«A diverse and varied general workforce at all levels enhances the competitiveness of companies»

What are the main topics that currently concern you in your activities as supervisory board member?
Like most companies, we experience the effects of the climate crisis, the war in Ukraine and natural disasters. Rising prices of raw materials, energy, and packaging, as well as complex supply chains, present challenging tasks for Migros. A main focus of my work is to ensure a coordinated approach to these challenges – as a strong Migros community with the same values, a common raison d’être and clear goals that give us orientation.

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?
Today’s supervisory boards should not only be strategic and supervisory bodies, but also ensure proper compliance, identify and manage risks, and promote social responsibility. Supervisory board members also provide the impetus and pace for new business opportunities and promote a good leadership culture. The supervisory board thus strengthens overall resilience in the company.

With this in mind, which expertise is becoming increasingly important on the supervisory board?
A supervisory board increasingly needs agile expertise and must not be exclusively reactive. Companies are often successful because their strategic bodies as credible initiators set the tone for a mind change and also live it. A clear attitude, which is based not only on professional expertise but also on appreciation and the courage to renew, is the characteristic feature of a committed supervisory board member. This also includes critically questioning the basis for decisions.

The ecological footprint of Swiss companies is large. How important is sustainability at Migros, and how did ecological considerations change the focus of the supervisory boards’ agenda?
The sustainability strategy with clearly defined goals is discussed and approved by the supervisory board. Thinking sustainably means acting responsibly. This is the foundation of the Migros culture. Migros Group has defined ambitious climate objectives: On the way to net zero, all Migros companies shall reduce their operational greenhouse gas emissions by a solid two-thirds by 2030. The cooperative retail sector has already achieved carbon neutrality in its operations 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?
In the current economic development, the demand for expertise and skilled professionals is higher than the Swiss market can provide. That is the reason why many companies are recruiting foreign colleagues. A diverse and varied general workforce at all levels strengthens the competitiveness of 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 Migros? What strategic measures have you introduced to counter this?
With a diverse corporate culture and the promotion of the compatibility of professional and private life, Migros provides attractive employment conditions for all life models. This framework is defined in the new national collective labour agreement. Additionally, we support the health and further development of our employees. It is also important that Migros Group stands for a raison d’être that employees are eager tu support. Migros Group has set itself the goal of being more committed to education, health, sustainability, inclusion and culture than any other company in Switzerland.

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?
I experience young people as very motivated. They are committed to the society, the environment and demand support for this – this is what Migros offers. Generation Z are digital natives – so they will positively influence Migros Group and its offerings.

From your perspective, how has the corporate culture changed since 2019, and what impact has this had on your collaboration as chairwoman with the CEO?
In recent years, a corporate culture has established that is increasingly characterised by cooperation across departmental and company boundaries. This requires regular exchange. Therefore, I have a meeting with the CEO every week, and I am in regular contact with the members of the administration as well as the general management, the regional cooperatives and subsidiaries. I find joy in this exchange and the pursuit of the best solutions.