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Preparatory Seminar 2020, Day 3 – Visiting Hoffmann-La Roche & Bertschi AG

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With a very intensive Tuesday behind us, the Preparatory Seminar continued with two company visits. The first one was scheduled at the Hoffmann-La Roche AG in Basel, the second one took place after lunch at the Bertschi AG in Dürrenäsch.

It is still in the early morning, when the first couple of delegates met before the headquarters of the Hoffmann-La Roche AG, which includes the Roche Tower, the tallest building in Switzerland. After everybody arrived at the scene, a familiar face welcomed the Insight China project. Michael Schaub, former Head of Partnership & Finance working now as an intern for Roche, greeted us cordially at the entrance and led us via elevators to the upper floors for the first presentations.

In a dimmed room, Patricia Fischer, Visit Manager at the Roche AG, introduced us to the company and its eventful and long lasting history of almost 125 years. She presented impressive figures, for example the 30 breakthroughs the company experienced during its activities in the pharmaceutical industry.

Fischer was not opposed to answer upcoming question from the audience and ended her presentation with a quick history about the site development of the headquarters and the present construction of the new Roche Tower.

Dr. Volker Herdtweck was following up on the speech of Ms. Fischer and quickly gained the attention of the audience with both his humor and insightful opinions about employment and applications. In a first part, he told us about his career and experiences he had during his time in all kinds of interesting positions, reaching from Senior Consultant to Managing Director. Dr. Herdtweck’s insights were really noteworthy, since he gave attendees important key take away’s for their own applications, such as showing the needed passion for the job, staying humble and relying more on skill-sets than on the reputation of the graduated university.

The HR Campus Marketing Manager also tried to display how businesses work when looking at applications and cleared the students up about Go’s or No-Go’s. The clue in his speech was, that he could illustrate almost every point he made with an example from his own work experience, making his statements way more tangible and understandable.

After the speech, the group left the presentation room and got the Chance to visit the exclusive Pebbles Lounge in the famous Roche Tower 1. During this short detour, Patricia Fischer used the opportunity to explain the planned new tower in more detail, and showing the progress made so far through the power of Virtual Reality.

Going back into the presentation room, Dr. Ignacio Fernandez-Garcia welcomed us for another journey through the insides of Roche. This time, the speech focused more on the foundation of the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Fernandez-Garcia went really into detail while explaining the early stage development as well as a mindful dealing with misinformation.

He continues by explaining the uniqueness of Roche and their focus on innovation. The speech further exemplified the hierarchy composition of the Hoffmann-La Roche AG, and the challenges that lie ahead when changing from a traditional hierarchy to a structure of a team of teams, as they want to do it in the Roche AG right now.

In a final Questions and Answer session, delegates and project team likewise asked about the problems with supply chains, hierarchies and the challenges of local regulations when doing business abroad.

Strengthened from a refreshing lunch, Insight China moved via organized bus to Dürrenäsch, the location of our Platinum Partner Bertschi AG. After a very warm welcome from Beat Berner from the HR Group of Communication and Marketing, the participants got briefed on the history of the Bertschi family business, as well as their massive scale, their key figures and most important services (75% Rail, 15% Short Sea & 10% Road). Mr. Berner also displayed the importance of China, their economic influence on the company and their behavior during the current situation.

As a follow-up to the welcoming speech, the attendees were split up into different groups and guided through the open-plan offices.

Different speakers explained all the possible facets about the Bertschi AG, for example how the current Digitalization within the last four years at the company, already increased the efficiency of major process significantly. Moving around thousands of numbered containers manually on a magnetic board, and wasting hours of work when making an error, was shrunk down to a couple of mouse clicks. The same counts for monitoring activities both of transports and heat signatures of the respective freight, a so-called End-to-End supply chain visibility.

The employees at the Bertschi AG presented a lot of innovative ideas to increase the supply chain efficiency, but the potential success of some of them won’t show until the end of the year. The approach seems to be right, only looking at the fact that Bertschi Global grew around six times the size from 2013 to 2020.

After a last presentation about the tankcontainer as Bertschi’s most valuable asset, Insight China was invited for a quick snack and talk on the upper floors, before boarding the bus and heading towards home.

Thank You so much Hoffmann-La Roche AG and Bertschi AG for welcoming us and giving us these exclusive insights of your companies. We could learn, laugh, discuss and network due to the unique opportunity that you gave us. We wish you all the best and value your support.

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