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Ludger Schwinn, Senior Client Partner at KornFerry

Ludger Schwinn, Senior Client Partner at KornFerry


Switzerland – a magnet in the global war for the best talents in Life Sciences

It’s a sector of great importance for the Swiss national economy: The growing Life Science industry. Across pharmaceuticals, biotech, medtech, diagnostics or providing sectors more and more companies have settled in Switzerland over the last 15 years. In fact, the number of employees working in the pharmaceuticals sector almost doubled over the past 35 years reaching 46,000 in 2016. Some 33,500 work in the Basel region, the hometown of the two largest Swiss pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Roche which are among the most successful innovators of groundbreaking therapies on a global scale. Numerous upcoming Life Science companies such as Roivant have settled in Basel in recent years and international headquarters (global and regional) of renowned bio-pharma, consumer healthcare and medical medtech firms are expanding. This positive development is underpinned by new knowledge driven platforms focusing on precision medicine, biomaterial engineering and other domains.

Basel is a serious competitor

Switzerland is known for its outstanding Life Sciences talent pool which is composed of local talents educated in Switzerland’s first-class universities and some of the best foreign talents finding their way to Switzerland to take up an attractive role. In my work I am specialized in the identification and evaluation of executive level leaders in the Life Sciences industry. For the past 15+ years we have been supporting large- and mid-cap pharma but also upcoming biotech and medtech companies opening a regional office in finding best-in-class talent along the entire value chain of Life Sciences. For these companies one key criteria for selecting a location is the availability of agile, accessible, multi-cultural and highly skilled leaders who operate within and are inspired by an ecosystem which provides entrepreneurial thinking. In this regard Switzerland, namely Basel, is truly competitive if compared to some of the other major Life Sciences hubs such as Boston, West Coast USA or Singapore.

Highest level

New approaches emerge from digital, data analytics and Artificial Intelligence touching almost all functions of cutting-edge Life Sciences firms. As a consequence, innovation cycles become shorter, commercialization strategies change, and skills and capabilities of new generation leaders evolve. In this situation, the sector can benefit from other strong and innovative industries operating out of Switzerland and attract those talents with scalable assets, the agility and hungriness to play in a new sector. This increases the cross-sectoral talent flow and can expand the talent pool over time.

Why Switzerland is so much appreciated by expats and their families is due, among other things, to the high quality of life, easy access to international travel destinations, economic and political stability and the high-level educational institutions. Basel particularly stands out for its rich and broad portfolio of cultural offerings and the location at the border triangle with great leisure and shopping opportunities in Germany and France.

About the author

Ludger Schwinn is Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry Zurich office and heads the Global Life Sciences Market with a focus on Switzerland. He focuses on senior executive recruitments in the Life Science industry, including the pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics sectors. Ludger Schwinn was Managing Partner in Switzerland of an international executive search boutique before joining Korn Ferry. Earlier he led the fast-growing operations of two renowned global pharmaceuticals firms in Russia / CIS as the Managing Director. Ludger Schwinn holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of Basel and speaks five languages.

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY) is the world's leading organization and people advisory firm. The service offerings include Talent Acquisition i.e. executive search and RPO. Korn Ferry operates in over 50 countries with a total of 7,500 employees. Based in Zurich, Korn Ferry is an international platform of excellence. In Zurich, Korn Ferry employs 70 people from 16 nations working for national and international clients in the industrial, financial services, life sciences, consumer goods, technology and non-profit sectors. Korn Ferry Switzerland also includes Austria with a branch in Vienna. Since its foundation, the company has carried out 2.5 million assessments and has a correspondingly extensive pool of relevant data on leadership and talent consulting. In 2014, Korn Ferry recruited a total of over 8,000 top executives. Since 1969, Korn Ferry, headquartered in Los Angeles/USA, has supported its clients in recruiting new executives, deploying them correctly, promoting them and retaining them permanently in the company. With the acquisition of Hay Group in October 2015, Korn Ferry strengthens its holistic approach to Leadership & Talent Consulting.

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