On 4 July, just under 20 EMBA alumni gathered at the Kongresshaus Zurich, which had reopened 12 months earlier.
Roger Büchel, EMBA alumnus and CEO of Kongresshaus Zürich AG, opened the event with an exciting presentation, painting a picture of the “Kongresshaus” institution, which has remained young despite its 80-year history. But first things first: Roger started his job as CEO during the renovation and even before Corona – no one knew what challenge the Kongresshaus and thus Roger would soon face. Nor could anyone have guessed how much Roger’s insistence on digital offerings such as better cabling or a streaming studio would prove to be an absolute necessity in Corona times. Roger was an absolute stroke of luck with his vision of a convention centre geared to the digital age. In addition to digitalisation, the business model of the “Kongresshaus” has also undergone an adjustment under Roger: In line with today’s standards, everything is now offered from a single source, thus generating more added value for the congress centre. The extent to which inputs from the EMBA programme have played a role in these considerations has remained hidden from the writer. However, typical EMBA topics such as vision-mission-values or the strategic thrust of the “company structure” caught our attention.
During the subsequent tour, the writer was struck by three things in particular: Firstly, a great deal of attention was paid to the time-honoured substance during the renovation. For example, the large Tonhalle was painstakingly restored to its former state by removing paint in order to recreate the ambience from the year it was built, 1895. Secondly, there is state-of-the-art technology everywhere, from the permanently installed streaming studio to the huge, mobile LED screen. And thirdly, sustainability is a top priority: The events are organised in a climate-neutral way, whereby the lake water centre with its heat exchangers is a very important piece of the puzzle, as about 70 per cent of the cooling and heating requirements can be obtained in an environmentally friendly way from Lake Zurich.
After the exciting presentation and the impressive guided tour, it was already clear that the Kongresshaus will receive more visits from EMBA alumni in the future. The subsequent gastronomic flight of fancy during the aperitif convinced everyone that Roger is running a jewel in the middle of Zurich – dear Roger, we are proud of you!
And with this treat, an excellent opportunity for learning, sharing and networking has come to an end.