#ThrowbackThursday: Gabriela Stefanini

Selfie taken at the 4 July reception at the US embassy in Bern: from left Olivia, Gabriela and Evelyn

“Olivia, Evelyn and I were the project team for connectUS and during that time we met the then US ambassador to Switzerland.  He was kind and helpful and sent us a letter with an invitation to the Independence Day party at the US embassy in Bern.  I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to wear to such an event, didn’t know who would be there, how we had to behave, whether we should bring something along. It was a huge event with several hundred people, none of whom we knew, mostly seemingly important and affluent.  What still makes me laugh is that I had bought a flower for my hair at H&M- if you look carefully you can see it on the photo – and at some stage a guest came and talked to us and said “Oh, how lovely. Is that a Chanel flower?”

Gabriela delivering a talk at a technical conference last year. (Photo: Leandro Godoy)

Graduated in 2012

Now  “I’m  in the Get Shit Done team – yes, really, that’s its name. I’m a software developer at Shopify, mostly working on internal tools and applications, with the aim of increasing company productivity.  Our company is moving really fast globally – we now have over 2000 employees and are expanding, well almost doubling in size each year.  So it’s very dynamic and exciting.  What I love is that we’re all given a great deal of freedom and independence to be creative and come up with our own ideas for new features and solutions. We work hard, but I really enjoy it. “

After graduation   Gabi first stayed on at the School of Business as an administrator in the International Office.  Here she also developed and launched some new tools and processes which increased her interest in software engineering and coding.  In 2014 she moved to Canada, initially to start a degree in Computer Science at the prestigious McGill University (which she has nearly finished) in Montreal.  She landed an internship with the dynamic Shopify (a cloud-based commerce platform) as software developer where she worked on product tools such as  SSL encryption, domains and upgrading the framework.  She was then hired permanently a year ago which involved a move to Ottawa.

How did studying IM help?  Even now, I profit regularly from having such a solid knowledge of business processes and tools. Next to the software backgrounds,  I have knowledge and insight into Marketing, Finance, PR and this knowledge is useful all the time.  For instance, because I have knowledge and a good awareness of Comms, I have perspectives that are genuinely useful.

Want to get in touch with Gabi?  You’ll find her on our closed IM Alumni group (sub-group of FHNW Alumni) on LinkedIn or on Twitter at twitter.com/lastgabs


IM Medley: Info on AI for businesses + an apero

So is AI something for my organisation? (Photo: http://freedomandsafety.com/en/file/ai-businessjpg)

Combine gaining some insights into current business topics with socialising and networking.

On 22 February, from 6pm, Prof Dr Kaspar Riesen presents a dynamic mini-lecture on Artificial Intelligence (OVR building, Campus Olten. Room  OVR A013 ). An apero follows.

Big data and machine learning has been on everyone’s lips lately, and many companies are wondering if and, most importantly, how these topics could be used to their advantage. In this mini lecture, the topics of machine learning and artificial intelligence are vividly presented and possibilities and limitations of this specific field of research are discussed, including some case examples from current consultancy.

Kaspar Riesen, IT-consultant and lecturer (Photo: © Adrian Moser)

Kaspar Riesen received his MSc and PhD degrees in Computer Science from the University of Bern in 2006 and 2009, respectively. His research interests cover the fields of artificial intelligence, pattern recognition, machine learning and data mining. Kaspar Riesen is the author of two unique books that present thorough introductions to the field of structural pattern recognition. Moreover. his list of publications includes 17 papers in international peer-reviewed journals and more than 50 publications in refereed conference proceedings and edited books. Since 2010 Kaspar Riesen works as a university lecturer and researcher at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland.

Register here now (scroll down past the season greetings) or send us a mail at alumni.bsc-im.business@fhnw.ch

Next event:  Bid for a Boss. 12 April from 6pm in Olten.


#ThrowbackThursday: Daniele Turini

Met on day 1 – the crew! From left Robel, Manuel, Reto , Daniele (in front) and David

This is our crew.  We met on the very first day of studies in IM.  In one of the classes we had to form a group and there was no choice, really, all 5 of us guys were in the back row.  There was an instant  chemistry among us though and the friendships have proved lasting.  After graduation, we all went our separate ways but remain in touch sporadically.  And – whenever one of us turns 30 we get together. Recently it was David’s turn and we all made sure we could at least catch up, say hi and plan our next common activity.

Graduated in 2012

(Photo: Natascha Jansen)

Now  After 4 years as the Head of eCulture, Marketing and Communications at the Basel Museum of History, I changed jobs last August and am now Digital Consultant at Xeit GmbH where I can concentrate on what is my passion – digital communication.  At this agency, I can work on a broad range of projects such as working out social media strategies, re-designing websites, drawing up concepts for blogs or working on some kind of digital projects that yet have to be defined.  Sometimes we work for bigger corporations, but it’s also very nice to help the smaller start-ups.  I hold Social Media workshops or even broader-themed workshops for clients.  I also do more teaching now.  Currently I hold courses in community management at the ZHAW (Zürcher Hochschule for Angewandte Wissenschaften) and once a semester I’m guest lecturing at the Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg im Breisgau on eCulture.  I love the diversity of my roles but it is of course demanding.

After graduation My career path was a case of serendipity.  I took on an internship at the Basel Museum of History and just then they were looking for someone who could do Social Media.  This role expanded over the years where I developed a digital strategy and in teams worked on numerous cross- and transmedial events and activities. It was a good time. I had the chance to start from zero and eventually was invited to present our digital strategy in Atlanta, Barcelona, Berlin and various other places in Europe. At the same time, I returned to the FHNW repeatedly to further educate myself in this field: I first did a DAS in e-Business Management and currently I’m doing the Master in Digital Marketing (to be quite honest, I never would have thought I would do that).

How did studying IM help? It gave me an international mindset.  I always felt that there’s a different approach in IM both on the personal and the business level.  We were always encouraged to think outside the box and to be open-minded.  This mindset increased my initial motivation to study IM and it has served me extremely well in my professional field.  Social Media, digital media is also very much about being open-minded.

Want to get in touch with Daniele?  You’ll find him on our closed IM Alumni group on LinkedIn. (And of course, you’ll find him on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, on Snapchat, on Xing, on SoundCloud, and on his very own dotcom page!)


#ThrowbackThursday, #Love@IM: A December Love Story

Tatiana and Marcel Dickmann

Tati came from Ecuador and Marcel from Germany – both on a one semester exchange which brought them much more than expected.

“When I arrived at the Olten staff house for my exchange semester in spring 2007, I was given a room on the 13th floor. My buddy brought me and upon our arrival there was another exchange student there. “Can you look after these girls?” my buddy asked the student, as they knew each other from the HR class. That was how Marcel and I met for the first time.  He was on exchange from FH Dortmund and I from Universidad  Católica de Santiago de Guayaquil in Ecuador.   We didn’t go to the same classes but on the 13th floor we all socialised together a lot.  We never dated as such but hung out and got to know each other very well. By June we were a couple.  Before we returned to finish our education in our different countries, we travelled around Switzerland and at the end of our time together Marcel proposed.

I knew it was real but I also had my doubts whether a relationship could survive the distance and the long separation on the horizon. We agreed that he would come in December to meet my family and then we could announce our engagement. But shortly after going back home, in September, we both realized that it didn’t make sense to be apart. So he came to Ecuador in December to marry me. I completed my open semester and moved to Germany by March 2008 to learn German and a year later we were back in Olten: Marcel had accepted a job in Switzerland and I had decided to study IM.”

Coming Full Circle: Tati, Marcel and Oscar. Ten years after meeting and marrying, the two former IM (exchange) students are back In Trimbach where their baby Oscar was born just a few steps from where the couple met.

Now  “This month is our 10th anniversary.  And the biggest gift we received was the birth of our son Oscar last September.  We also moved to our house this summer – to Trimbach.  As Marcel said, we have come full circle – we are back to the place where we started as a couple and our son was born in the hospital on the same grounds as where we had lived.

In February I will return, at 70%, to my job as Country Business Manager LFP DesignJet at HP GmbH in Zurich. I really enjoy that it’s so international and that besides using my managerial skills I can use all my languages.  I like the travelling and getting to know the business in other countries, I enjoy presenting our products and being in contact with our customers.”

Tati, after graduating in 2012, first worked for Scintilla for 2 years and then joined HP’s graduate program. She was promoted to her current role in March 2015.

Marcel, who graduated in 2007, worked first in auditing for Deloitte but then switched to finance controlling in the energy branch working for companies like AXPO and BKW. While employed in that role at BKW AG, he completed his MAS in Controlling at ZHAW. Since January 2016 he has been finance controller and member of the Management of the hospital Dornach (Solothurner Spitäler AG). “Being a site finance controller means to have the whole responsibility of the site’s finance, which allows me to interact with different people in different departments in order to understand their processes. So being a hospital finance controller has brought me to have experiences like joining a couple of surgeries without being a doctor. And I like the challenge of having this big responsibility while working 80%. I enjoy spending every Friday with my son and wife.”


Bid redeemed. Robots and Rotkraut

Manuel Frei at the Industrie 4.0 trade fair in Nürnberg

The prize was a trip to Europe’s largest trade fair – Industrie 4.0 – in Nürnberg. CEO and IM alumnus Stephan Kunz offered this at the Bid for a Boss – Manuel Frei placed the winning bid.  The two shared a dinner of Rotkraut and Spätzle the night before  the big day – looks impressive.  We don’t know what Manuel thought of the robot, though.

There will be more such amazing opportunities at next year’s Bid for a Boss. Set for 12 April – so save the date.

Manuel Frei (left) won the bid for CEO (and IM Alumnus) Stephan Kunz’s offer to be taken to Europe’s largest trade fair in Nürnberg.


Forecast 2018: Events and Expert Pool

Merry Christmas everyone and may 2018 be awesome for you all.

And what are IM Alumni doing next year?

  • Thursday, 22 February Prof Dr Kaspar Riesen will give us a talk about recent research and projects he’s involved in Business Intelligence/Artificial Intelligence. This IM Medley is a good opportunity to combine learning about professional developments as well as networking with fellow alumni during the apero afterwards.  Dean Prof Dr Anya Nikoulina is sponsoring this for us – you can register on

  • On 12 April it’s time for Bid for a Boss – we’re thrilled with not only the money raised this year for alumnus John Uwaeke’s charity but also with the wide range of unique opportunities bosses provided for so many of you. And it was fun. So – save the date or you can already register on 

  • Two other events are planned – a repeat of the Pub Quiz in October and an informal barbecue where you can also bring along your partners (and children) in September. We’ll also, of course, be present at Graduation to award the IM Alumni Graduation Prize.

New: We’d like to establish a pool of experts on IM Alumni. We’re looking for 2-3 experts/professional in the fields of HR, Communications, Finance & Banking, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Accounting & Controlling and Education who are willing to mentor alumni or students, or be willing to simply be available for questions on their professional fields, on continuing academic or professional studies, on professional developments and employers. If you might be interested in being included in the pool, send us an email under alumni.bsc-im.business@fhnw.ch


#ThrowbackThursday Daniel Altherr

(From left) Flo, Daniel, Stefan and Jan on the “weird but fun” night out in Zürich with a group of BEST tour Californian students in 2007.

In June 2007 about 15 students from CalState Fullerton came to Switzerland as part of the so-called BEST programme run by Robert Buttery, the Head of International Relations.  He asked some of us regular students to take the group out – which we did.  It was a Monday evening and we, Stefan Stöckli, Jan Musar, Flo Estoppey and myself took this group to several bars in Zürich.  Let’s just say it was a weird but fun night with a lot of alcohol.  Which meant that the next day we ended up sleeping on our desks in a classroom as we waited for a lecture to start.

Graduated BSc IM in 2007

Now I’ve been with DePuySynthes, which is part of Johnson&Johnson, for over 8 years now in various roles.  Currently, as EMEA Marketing Manager for the Spine segment, I can profit from knowing the business inside out and the network I’ve built up.  I’m tasked with rationalising the portfolio of 255 products by half. Reducing this number will allow us to focus our R&D efforts on creating innovation instead of keeping old brands updated to comply with the changing regulatory environment. The challenge is to retain our existing customers when removing some of their favourite brands. So I have to keep them and our sales force well informed.  This is such a major project that it’s on our CEO’s scorecard which motivates me even more. My role is very much more about marketing strategy than sales which I enjoy and means I learn something every single day.  Also, importantly, I enjoy that I can have a better work-life balance now that I don’t have to travel so much. I had years when I undertook 70 trips a year.

After Graduation I’d done my semester abroad in Hong Kong and joined the Insight China seminar so a year after graduating I tried working in China. But it was 2008 – I picked the wrong year.  I then returned to Synthes as Product Manager in the Spine unit, which after two years lead to the role of Market Development Manager of the same group in the Middle East and Africa. Especially the Middle East is a vibrant development area in our sector and I travelled a lot. However, after the merger with Johnson&Johnson that business unit became redundant – I then took on the same role but for 13 countries of Eastern Europe and was based in Prague.  This market was expanded to include Neuro – two business units dealing with implants and instruments for brain and skull surgery.  This unit, too, was reorganised last year so after about 4 years in Prague I returned to Switzerland.

How did studying IM help? You know, I was thinking about this recently. In my current job I’m not applying much of the knowledge taught in the courses I took.   But my studies brought me three highly valuable assets. One is that those three years made me an adult, able to work independently and take responsibility. Then, I learnt to present. I developed the skill to stand in front of people and talk about what I know- or sometimes even what I don’t know and to be concise. I need to present every day – to colleagues, to surgeons. And then thirdly, it gave me a valuable network of people including some, like Stefan and Jan, who remain my best friends.

Want to get in touch with Daniel? you’ll find him in the IM Alumni LinkedIn group.


Bid Redeemed – Innovation Playdate

Monika Blaser (left) took Nikolina Fuduric through the Innovation Lab toolkit at Postfinance which Nikolina had won at the Bid for a Boss event. We’re not sure what the piggy bank is about but looks like they had fun

This week Nikolina Fuduric redeemed her Bid for a Boss win: she and Monika Blaser, Head of the Innovation Lab at PostFinance enjoyed a “playdate” – Nikolina could pitch a business idea they then took through the Lab’s toolkit. “It was a learning experience for me and it was a lot of fun!” reports Nikolina.

The Bid for a Boss event, with the auctioning of various opportunities with bosses from all walks of life, raised over CHF 3000 of which the majority went to the charity C4C which provides laptops and ICT training for youngsters in rural Nigeria.  The event will be held again in April 2018.