eA 9th Edition

Seminar in Switzerland – Recap Day 2

Delegation Blogpost – Seminar Recap #2

Our second day of the Seminar in Switzerland was filled with many thrilling guest speakers that brought their industry experience and offered their expertise in the topics of Circularity, Digitalization and Robotics. We also learned more about Singapore and surprised our student delegation with a cooking competition at the end of the day.

Big thanks to our delegation for their active participation during the seminar as well as while writing these blogpost. We are thrilled to present these student contributions in the following paragraphs and without further ado – Ready? Steady Pom Pipi!

Sustainability in Corporate Banking – A Workshop with UBS

The past week we had the privilege of welcoming Remo Häcki and Imola Kurel as guest speakers in our seminar in Switzerland. With their expertise in managing client portfolios and offering customized
solutions and advice on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)
issues, they brought invaluable insights to our discussion.

Our Tasks and Learnings

All students were organized into groups based on their prior work
experience, embarking on a thought-provoking exercise. We had to select a former or current employer to examine through the lens of two critical questions:

1)  How can a company approach sustainability to stay
competitive in the future?

2)  What role do banks play when supporting companies in
making its business practices more sustainable?

The day before the actual get-together, we had to assess where the
chosen company currently stands in terms of sustainability. Based on the first impression questions were prepared for an interactive Q&A session. The Q&A session was intended to give the students a deeper understanding on their chosen topic. Remo Häcki came without Power-Point-Slides, he picked a flipchart and collected our questions. We appreciated the fact that his inputs and insights were at the interests of the students and not his company UBS. Through the following exercise, the students developed strategies to enhance sustainability, sharing their innovative ideas with the class. A key challenge identified by Remo Häcki was the difficulty in achieving transparency regarding CO2 emissions, which are often only estimable.


Remo Häcki emphasized the importance of understanding a business’s
unique challenges before advising on leveraging sustainability for
competitive advantage. He encouraged thinking outside the box and
highlighted how fostering exchanges between companies can significantly improve overall sustainability.

This hands-on experience with real-life scenarios gave us an invaluable
insight into the complexity of sustainability and provided us with the
necessary sensitivity to make future decisions to tackle these

Authors: Caroline Stocker & Cedric Hänggi

Insights Singapore: A Hotpot of Cultures

Genevieve Schärer-Lim gave us a fascinating insight into the diversity and dynamism of Singapore. With a rich cultural heritage and a thriving economy, Singapore has much to offer and remains a key destination for global business interests and cultural exchange.

The Facets of Singapura

The presentation highlighted many fascinating facts about Singapore. The English name “Singapore” derives from the native Malay word Singapura, which was in turn derived from the Sanskrit word for ‘lion city’, simha means ‘lion’ and pura means ‘city’ or ‘fortress’, reflecting the country’s history and geography. Interestingly, many aspects of Singapore are named after Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who played a pivotal role in the country’s development. He transformed Singapore from a small, resource-poor island into a thriving global financial hub, marked by its robust economy, advanced infrastructure, and high living standards.

A fascinating feature that Singapore shares with Switzerland is its multilingualism. Sharing both four official languages, Singaporeans speak English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil, reflecting the diversity of cultures and traditions in the country.

The presentation also highlighted Singapore’s world-leading standards in areas such as quality of life, research and innovation, and urban management efficiency. Despite its conservative social structure, Singapore offers opportunities for women in top management and emphasises work-life balance.

An interesting cultural nuance highlighted during the presentation was the Peranakan culture, which is a blend of Malay and Chinese influences. The recommendation to try the local cuisine opened the door to a rich culinary heritage that reflects the diversity of Singapore’s ethnic groups.

Strict adherence to rules and regulations is another hallmark of Singapore, contributing to its high level of safety and efficiency. From a ban on chewing gum to strict rules on cleanliness and hygiene on public transport, discipline is an integral part of the Singaporean lifestyle.

During the presentation, we also learned some local terms and expressions that gave us an insight into Singapore’s unique culture. These included words like “shiok” for delicious food and “pokai” for financial hardship. We were also amused to learn expressions such as “ketok”, which means paying too much for something, and “digging gold”, a term for picking one’s nose. These expressions, which come from the local creole language Singlish, not only offer a glimpse into Singaporean humour, but also serve as cultural touchstones that enhance our appreciation of the local lifestyle.


Overall, Genevieve Schärer-Lim’s presentation was a captivating exploration through the diversity and richness of Singapore. Her insights and information not only provided us with better understanding of this fascinating country, but also skillfully linked it to the broader objectives of the ExploreASEAN delegation. As our journey is inspired by the shift from linear to circular, emphasizing the critical role of innovation in shaping a net positive future.

Authors: Vanessa Vecchio & Filippo Fusco

The Capabilities of Artificial Intelligence

In the roam of the exploreASEAN preparation seminar held in Olten throughout the past week, the delegated students and the Project Team members, as well as their academic supervisor Dr Teresa L. Freiburghaus, were introduced to the topic of Artificial Intelligence by Ms Maja Spahic, lecturer at the FHNW. One of the main goals that this presentation had to meet was to efficiently provide the students with some key insights about artificial intelligence, that should be very useful for their seminar abroad in Asia in March.

Key Learnings and Takeaways

During her 2-hour speech, Ms Maja Spahic took the students through an exciting journey about artificial intelligence, revealing some key points that almost no one would have expected. As an example, it was unveiled that the first idea of a modern computer was built and used back in 1830, a year that appeared as extremely far back in time, when it is known that artificial intelligence (AI) and technology mainly developed over the last 30 to 40 years. What was also to be learned from this presentation were some facts about the development and the spreading of AI in anyone’s daily routine, should it be through machines providing support to simply complex tasks, for example in healthcare or logistics, something that was also a subject during the visits of companies that took place on the previous day.

Relevance towards our Topics

In fact, the content of this speech was directly linked with the themes of this year’s exploreASEAN seminar, whose focus is placed on “Beyond growth : Embracing Digitalization and Robotics in a Circular Economy”. Indeed, it can even be placed as a core topic in this global theme, as AI are among the most accurate concrete representations of digitalization and obviously of robotics in our contemporary world. As the position of robotics and digitalization generally is accurately central in the current Asia’s economies, having a focus on AI during the preparatory seminar was truly needed and especially relevant. Furthermore, when focusing on the circularity of the economy, AI may from time to time be questioned from an environmental perspective, regarding the electronic waste that it may generate. This represents a subject that could be explored deeply during the seminar abroad in Asia.


Overall, discussing about AI brought lots of relevant knowledge to the delegates, the Project Team and their supervisor, and provided them all with key insights, facts and information that they will need to understand the vision, mission and strategies set by the different companies that they will be visiting in Asia next month. It was once again proven during this speech how crucial AI has become in the modern current economic world, winning a relevance that does not seem to be fading away in the upcoming decades, but rather continually growing.

Author: Thibaut Fritz

A Culinary Excursion: The Vietnamese Cuisine Competition

On Thursday afternoon, the entire delegation was very excited about the Vietnamese cooking experience. Not only were we looking forward to getting to know Vietnamese cuisine, but we were also highly motivated to compete against each other in a team competition. Three criteria were evaluated: the number of summer rolls, the taste, and the appearance/decoration. The competitive pressure was high, each team wanted to win the challenge. And of course, we had a lot of fun!

The Importance of Food in Vietnamese Culture

Food plays a central role in the daily lives of the Vietnamese people. Locals rarely eat at home, they rather prefer to enjoy their meals in the community at street food places, where multiple dishes are served simultaneously and shared with family and friends. Street food not only offers delicious, varied dishes but is also financially affordable for the locals. Vietnamese food culture is characterised by fresh ingredients, complex flavors and balanced textures. Dishes consist mainly of fresh, local ingredients such as herbs, vegetables, seafood and meat. In addition, foods typically combine elements of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and spicy flavors.

Vietnamese cuisine is well known for its time-intensive preparation. This is mainly because the recipes require a lot of fresh ingredients, which need to be peeled and chopped before they can be processed.

The Challenge

Before the challenge began and we had to prepare our meals in just 60 minutes, the students from Vietnam, currently studying abroad for a semester at FHNW in Switzerland, showed us step by step how to make the dishes. Firstly, they explained us how to prepare Nôm (north Vietnamese). This is a delicious sweet-sour salad made from shredded kohlrabi and carrots. The dressing consists of simple ingredients such as lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a lot of sugar. For the great taste, the salad is flavored with Asian herbs such as coriander and Thai basil. Peanuts as a topping complete the dish. Secondly, they showed us how to make traditional Vietnamese summer rolls. They cut a carrot and a cucumber into small juliennes. The fish, meat and tofu are also prepared. To make the summer rolls, you have to take a piece of rice paper and wet it with cold water. Then lettuce, chopped vegetables, cooked rice noodles, fresh herbs and either fish, meat or tofu need to be added. The stuffed rice paper can now be rolled up. Done! the summer rolls can now be perfectly enjoyed with either fish or soy sauce. Some garlic and chilli may be added to the sauce.

Before we began working, we prepared all the ingredients. In order to complete the menu, including decoration, within 60 minutes, it required the full participation of every team member. While some individuals were busy grating and cutting the vegetables, others began rolling the ingredients, while another group started with the sauce. It was almost like being in a factory. We made a conscious effort to utilize each person’s strengths to the fullest extent possible. During the decoration process, everyone contributed their ideas, each offering fantastic suggestions on how to enhance and beautify the menu even further.

Authors: Nina Weber & Alessandra Maute

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